I can remember the day I moved into my very first apartment like it was yesterday. I was almost done with my degree and I knew that I needed to start looking before all the good places got snapped up by my fellow graduates. And I was really lucky because one of the first places I went to look at was a tiny little studio apartment that didn’t need much fixing up, was close to public transport and that I absolutely fell in love with. I had zero furniture, a tight budget and an even tinier space to work with!
So just like my mother had taught me I headed online – first for inspiration and then to search for some budget friendly deals. There are plenty of useful websites such as Discountrue or She Saved that offer great discounts on furniture, home décor and more from Kohl’s and other popular shops. I started with the living room because I knew that was the room most people would be seeing, and where I’d probably spend most of my waking time.
Light colored walls equal airy spaces
The only fixing up I needed to do before moving in was to repaint the walls in a lighter shade (I went for a very pale almost white pastel blue). I have no idea what the previous occupants were thinking (or maybe it was the previous landlord – who knows), but the walls were this dark sandy brown color. Normally beautiful but in a small space it just makes everything look more cramped than it already is!
Mirrors equal illusions of space
This was something I learned years ago from my mom, or it might have been my gran. But whoever it came from I knew that one of the easiest ways to make a room look bigger is to hang a mirror on the wall opposite the window. This will reflect any light in the room, around the room and make it seem airier than it is. If you can’t place a mirror opposite a window, then hang it on the wall that faces the most open space with a small light in front of it. The bigger the mirror, the better it works so try get one that fills the wall instead of something narrow.
Sparkle equals simple space
Anything shiny, shimmery or sparkly captures light and bounces it around the room. I found some really old lamps (sans shades) at a garage sale which I sanded down to get rid of the layers of grime the years had deposited. Then I bought a tin of silver spray paint and gave them a face lift. Then I made lamp shades out of a thick chiffon type material with a leaf pattern stitched into it in sparkly, shimmery, silvery thread (SOOOO pretty!).
I also made a kind of wind chime chandelier thingy (no other way to describe it – it wasn’t a chandelier, and it wasn’t a wind chime) out of different sized glass, crystal and metallic beads which I hung from the main light fixture in the room. I installed a ‘warm light’ not too bright globe and every time the wind snuck in through the window I got a show with little patterns of light dancing across the walls.
Floating shelves equals floor space
I was pretty lucky that the apartment I chose already had floating shelves fitted along two of the walls in the main living area, as well as the kitchen and bedroom. If you don’t have them then invest in them because not needing bookcases, chests or an armoire (that’s a chest of drawers to normal people!) gives you a whole lot of extra floor space to work with!
Before you start filling them to capacity just make sure that they’re completely stable and able to support the weight of whatever you’re packing on them. I have had a whole shelf of books and ornaments come down on my head at a friend’s apartment and I can assure you that it’s highly unpleasant! Plus there’s all the mess and possible serious damage to clean up.
Compact furniture equals smart space
When you’re working with a small space the worst thing you can do is fill it with furniture that is bulky – in any way! Choose a small settee rather than a poufy couch, a comfortable (it must be comfortable or else it’s just a decoration) club chair rather than an arm chair, and a backless sofa or ottoman that doubles as a coffee table. It’s also a good idea to make your furniture mobile so that it can be easily rearranged or moved around to accommodate an impromptu girl’s night!
I also dual purposed everything to get a little more storage space and avoid unnecessary clutter. My ottoman was hollow, I had a backless sofa/settee that acted as a faux window seat, with deep drawers as the base. It wasn’t an upholstered bench though – it had arms which made the perfect cushion for my head whenever I was reading! I also hung pretty shower racks from the supports for my hanging shelves and filled these with knick knacks, ornaments and anything that didn’t find a shelf of its own.
Plant life equals fresh space
No matter how small or cramped a space is, and no matter how tiny the plant you choose for it – any greenery makes a space feel fresher and lighter. One of my shower rack shelves became a hanging herb garden, and I filled up the empty spaces on my shelves with easy to care for plants in pot plants that I decorated in whatever way I wanted to.
My dad spied an empty corner and decided it was a good place for an indoor garden so he built me a beautiful plant stand with four tiers. The best way I can describe it is that he made a standing coat rack, then suspended each shelf on different lengths of chain. He made the base wide enough to catch any water dripping from above and filled it with these plants that had tiny little leaves and the cutest white flowers.
And there you have it – my tiny little closet of an apartment was turned into an oasis that I actually cried about selling. I was offered a much better job in another state and had to move, though if I could have figured out a way to take my little home with me – I would have done it in a heartbeat!