Whenever possible, try to use items that are multipurpose.
The world is getting smaller and so, it seems, are apartments. Whether you embrace the tiny-living movement or have unwillingly had it thrust upon you, many people are living in smaller spaces these days and having to find creative ways to make it work. Small spaces have their benefits: they’re cheap, they’re simple, and they may force you to get rid of some of the junk you’ve been hauling around with you your whole life.
And fortunately, it’s still possible to live large, even in the most miniscule space. There are plenty of ways to keep claustrophobia at bay. Here are ten of them:
1. Start paying attention to legs
No, not your legs (although walking into things can be a risk in small spaces) — your furniture’s. When a piece of furniture like a couch sits directly on the ground, it creates the feeling of a blocked-off space. But get a couch with legs, and suddenly it’s lighter, more shaped, and less of a burden. Plus, you can store stuff under it if comes to that. The “look for legs” rule doesn’t just apply to couches. Tables, chairs, and shelves all feel less like space-hogs when they’re standing rather than sitting. When in doubt, pin legs are always a great option: they’re light, thin, and a classic design feature.
2. Pay attention to your colours
It’s not a hard and fast rule that the small-apartment dweller must paint their space white, but if you’re susceptible to the feeling that walls are closing in on you, it might be a good option. Light colours tend to make a space feel more open, so take own claustrophobia into account, and if your tolerance is low, go light. Otherwise, you may find yourself relating a bit too much to Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
3. Avoid massive furniture pieces
Massive wardrobe? No. 10-seater couch? No. Sturdy yet lightweight desk? Yes please. Just like in the real world, real estate is valuable inside your apartment. So don’t use up a big chunk of it on one item unless it’s absolutely vital.
4. Go flat
If you haven’t already, it’s time to join the couch potatoes of the future and get a flatscreen TV. They take up less space, and they can be mounted on the wall or tucked away out of sight when you need a break. (High-resolution image quality is a nice perk too.) A giant, vintage, antennaed TV may look cool, but in a tiny apartment, utility sometimes must win out over nostalgia.
5. Try to use things in more than one way
Whenever possible, try to use items that are multipurpose. Think countertops that are also storage space, or couch beds, or drawers that fit inside of desks that fold into walls, that sort of thing. Hot tip: almost anything can be a chair if you put a cushion on it.
6. Find your curves
Straight lines can look boxy, so whenever you can get away from the modular look, do. Look for a round kitchen table, or a soft-edged desk, or an irregularly shaped rug. Curves will reframe the way you see a room, so it looks less like a cell and more like a unique, well-designed space.
7. Get a murphy bed
This one is ambitious. Acquiring and setting up a murphy bed can be arduous. But the reward is a big chunk of free square footage whenever you aren’t asleep. If you’re in a studio apartment, staring at your bed all day may make it hard to embrace the world of wakefulness, so having the option of tucking it out of sight may benefit your energy levels and productivity as well.
8. Keep your space alive — literally
When living in a tiny space, you may have to make sacrifices, but you don’t have to go completely spartan. Make sure to decorate your space and use it to express yourself, and as with any apartment, you can make it feel more alive with plants. Plant life keeps you connected to nature, and it adds an organic feeling to your home.
9. Develop a rich life — outside your apartment
We know, why go out when your apartment has your bed, your food, and your Netflix account? But spending too much time in a small space can start getting to you. Some psychologists even say that spending too much time in your tiny hideaway can lead to psychological distress, so it’s worth taking in the wider (and bigger) world from time to time. So go out, see friends, head to the library, go to the movies. And when you’re ready to go home, your apartment cocoon is still there waiting for you.
10. Be creative
No two spaces are the same, so you have to work with what you get. Check out your apartment’s unique features and try to work with them. Figuring out how to make the most out of a small space can feel like a puzzle, so if you’re a problem-solver, you might enjoy figuring it out. And remember, no one else has to live in your space,