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10 Small Urban Apartment Decorating Ideas

Are you living in a small space? You’re not alone! In fact, many small interiors can be found in vibrant cities. Some of the most spectacular urban apartments are spatially challenged. One benefit of small-space living: you are forced to de-clutter on a regular basis, which trains you to clean out from time to time. This “keep it simple” attitude can carry over to other areas of life, such as your work desk or your storage closet. See–streamlined living has its perks!

Today we take a look at ways to decorate a small urban space, and finding images for the post was anything but difficult. That’s because some of the most innovative design is occurring in big cities where–you guessed it–spaces are smaller thanks to high-rise living. The result: an array of creative solutions. From choosing pieces that reflect light to making the most of corner space, we’ve got some great ideas for you… Enjoy!

Divide and Conquer

The key to defining a small space often lies in division. If you have one large room that must act as living room, dining room and bedroom in one, try setting boundaries with ceiling-mounted curtains, as shown below in this chic Manhattan loft. [from Roger Hirsch Architect via Houzz]

Ceiling-mounted curtains in a small apartment

Another option that doesn’t involve a construction project? Purchase an open bookshelf and use it as a room divider. The open design keeps the space from seeming closed off and prevents inhabitants from having to view the back of a shelf from one of the “rooms.” Plus, there’s an added benefit of storage with this divider! [from Apartment Therapy]

A bookshelf room divider

Select Clean-Lined Furniture

Clean lines=less frills=more compact. If you love ornamental furniture, go for it! But if you’re inclined to choose clean-lined pieces, your taste may pay off. After all, simple lines and angles create a sense of flow. Not to mention, the visual effect of clean-looking pieces has a calming effect that can help achieve contemporary harmony in a space, as shown below in a room designed by Leonora Mahle and Laurent Girard. [from Lonny]

Clean-lined furniture in a modern interior

In the very small apartment featured in the next image, modern furnishings with straight edges or simple round forms elevate the style of the space. Natural elements such as a potted plant and tree trunk-style stools add an organic component, giving the room a fresh feel. [from VGZA Architecture and Design via Houzz]

A small apartment with modern furniture

Go Compact When Possible

There are times when truly compact furnishings are not an option. But if you can purchase one or two compact pieces, they can free up much-needed space. Imagine a home office in just a few feet of space? That’s what Victor Vasilev’s MAMBA Shelf/Desk can do for your interior! [from Contemporist]

A compact floating desk

Or try incorporating a small entertainment center on wheels, with the help of the Peekaboo Clear Media Console from CB2:

A compact acrylic media console

Incorporate Modular Pieces

Modular furnishings can be combined in different formations to save room or increase the versatility of each piece. Often the answer for small spaces, these useful pieces really come in handy when they can easily be moved. For example, the ottoman below can double as a handy footrest or quickly transition to a useful coffee table. Need even more space? Simply move it to the side! [from Pangaea Interior Design via Houzz]

An ottoman doubles as a coffee table

The next image features a compact office area, L-shaped seating and handy storage bins. This selection from Matroshka can be arranged in a variety of formations. For example, rather than seating, use the space to the right of the desk as a bed, complete with under-bed storage for the green-topped bins. But do note that the cushion-topped containers can double as extra seating!

Modular furniture from Matroshka

Choose Dual-Purpose Furnishings

Like modular furniture, dual-purpose pieces can serve a variety of functions (although they may not be as easy to move). But when you’re pressed for space, having one item pull double duty can make all the difference. Take the large table below. Dine at it, or use it as a kitchen island that can provide valuable space for food preparation. [from Pucci + Saladino Architects via Houzz]

A large kitchen table

Or use the kitchen island/counter as a desk. Pull up a chair and grab your laptop, because this roomy arrangement is perfect for small spaces! [from Michel Design via Houzz]

A counter bar doubles as a desk

Make the Most of Corner Space

Corners–you can’t live without them! Unless your home is round. While some see corners as limiting, there is great possibility in using them to your advantage. One option involves opening up the room by using a corner to anchor seating, as shown by the couch below. [from Rita O’Brien via Houzz]

A bright, small apartment

Another option: sectional sofas. They’re not just for large spaces! In fact, aligning an L-shaped couch with a corner is the perfect way to get the most seating out of your small interior. Every inch of wall space in the area is utilized to the full effect. [from Archi Expo]

A corner sectional sofa

Create the Illusion of Space with Mirrors

Mirrors reflect light, so why not brighten your small space by adding one of these glassy pieces to your interior? Not to mention, mirrors reflect images. What better way to make the room seem twice as large? Below we see the home of artist and designer John Derian, complete with a large mirror over the couch. [from One Kings Lane]

A large living room mirror

You can also go big with your mirror. Very big. As we can see in the next image, the floor-to-ceiling mirror opens up the space by reflecting the grand staircase it faces. Now isn’t that better than facing a wall while you dine?! [photo by Michael Abrams via rentenna]

A large mirror opens up a dining room

Open up the Room with Clear Furniture

Another way to open up a room? Use clear furniture! After all, see-through furniture has a way of visually de-cluttering a room. Not to mention, the room will appear larger because you can see straight through to the wall. Or the floor. Acrylic furnishings are perfect for small spaces. The acrylic ghost chairs below create a “barely there” appearance while making a strong statement. [from Novi Decor]

Acrylic ghost chairs

Another option: go for glass. The Silverado Rectangular Dining Table in the next image features a chrome-plated base and a glass top. This dining area may be small, but it looks twice as large with this transparent piece. [from CB2]

A glass dining table

Shelve It

In a small space, you don’t want to wade through clutter. Keep your floor free of debris with ample shelving. Not only can shelves help you display your decor with style, they serve a functional purpose as well. What better way to hold your collection of books?! [from Minimalisti]

Bookshelves in a compact apartment

Speaking of decor, one stylish blogger used an Expedit shelf from IKEA to make an eye-catching display. Making each vignette count is particularly important for small spaces. For more details, check out Design Manifest.

A stylish bookshelf display

Use Books Creatively

Sometimes you just have to get creative. The images below reveal stacks of books that become true conversation pieces. In the room below designed by Mary Nelson Sinclair, a tall stack of books may as well be a desk-side sculpture! [from Lonny]

A stack of books in a chic living room

Need a small table? Have a surplus of books? Kill two birds with one stone, as shown in the next space, the home of M. Design Interiors associate designer Kate Schintzius. Top it off with a vase of foliage for a one-of-a-kind result! [from Design Sponge]

A table stack of books

Here’s to the power of the small space! Yes, small spaces are powerful spaces! Limited room forces you to make each piece count. Plus, when you look to creative solutions out of necessity, wonderful results are possible. A bookshelf as a room divider? A see-through chair? These unexpected tools become unforgettable focal points in your cozy abode. Happy decorating!

Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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