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Furniture for Small Spaces: Dos and Don’ts

Posted By: Maria Rainier

A concise look at decorating for a small studio apartment.

Decorating a small studio apartment like you would a three-bedroom house is not only unrealistic, it may ultimately cause you enough stress to make you unhappy in your home.  Large dinner tables, towering bed frames, and an entire gallery of framed art can actually clutter your room and make it unlivable. 

Rather than denying the fact that we live in small spaces, we must consider this—embrace it—when choosing new furniture.  Minimalism can actually maximize space and chic factor.

DON’T buy tons of new furniture.

DO buy from thrift stores, which can offer gently used and higher-quality items than the pressed-plastic, break-6-months-later pieces you’ll find at generic stores like Target or Walmart.  Keeping older items in circulation by shopping at thrift or consignment stores also makes your CO2 footprint smaller.

DON’T buy table lamps.  They require tables, which require space, of which you are in short supply.

DO put standing lamps in corners and hanging over the couch.  They can fit in small areas and make use of vertical space.

DON’T use heavy drapes which will give your room a case of claustrophobia.

DO invest in lighter, gauzy fabrics which will give the space a spacious air. If you’re worried about window insulation against the winter chill, DO stop by your local hardware store for a window insulation kit.  It contains transparent plastic that you can press against the glass to add another buffer against the cold.  This way you can keep your curtains open most of the year; natural light will make any space seem bigger.

DON’T clutter. 

DO make minimalism a golden rule.  Clutter is your enemy.  Avoid tons of wall art and decorations and reserve yourself to a quality few rather than a mountain of knick-knacks.

DON’T buy many of the “simple basics,” like ottomans or tables (for those table lamps you shouldn’t have bought).

DO think double duty.  Look for ottomans in which you can store magazines or napkins.  Raise your bed with bricks so you can store boxes beneath it.  Build shelves into the wall of your closet.  You should also consider a small sectional couch as opposed to a large one.  You can arrange the pieces as you need for a modern, chic look or put them together for a more traditional feel. 

DON’T buy tons of gaudy furniture and bright tapestries to make small spaces exciting.

DO make bright, eye-catching pieces focal points of the room.  Most people will tell you to stick to neutral colors but bold colors can do wonders even in small spaces.  Yellow, sea green, and azure are great colors for apartments.  If you prefer a modern look, go monochrome for the most part but add splashes of color like with flower vases or a central furniture piece.  Minimalism is still a keyword here, though.  Don’t go overboard with colors.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, playing with the newly revealed degree calculator and researching which engineering degrees pay best. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.


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