A well-arranged small space, featuring a desk, vertically stored bicycle, shelves, and a bed.

13 Tips For Decorating Small Spaces in 2024

Remodeling and Renovation Tips

by Heather Magness Posted on January 10, 2024
Home decor: the secret sauce behind a place that takes your breath away when you walk in. It’s the magic driving endless Pinterest boards and Instagram tags. It’s an entire industry filled with nuances, trends, seasonality, and skill. But breathtaking home decor specifically for a one-bedroom or studio apartment? That’s a little harder to pin down (get it?). In fact, decorating small spaces like these is notoriously difficult. 

We understand. You want to spice up your home decor game, but you just can’t seem to get it right for your small apartment. You're starting to wonder if it's even possible to make your small space seem bigger. We’re here to tell you it’s tough, but it’s absolutely doable.

So what is the best way to decorate a small space? You need some trusted advice, a bit of planning, and a lot of follow-through. Time to sell your California-king bed, ditch that tiny mirror, and get ready — because these tips for decorating small spaces are about to change your entire outlook on just how much you can do with your “cozy” home.

1. Minimize and Organize.

First things first: An easy way to make a small space feel even smaller is to fill it to the brim with stuff. Before you start decorating a little home, you have to declutter. Go through each room, closet, and drawer, and pull everything out. Look at each thing and decide if you need it, want it, or if it’s time to let it go. It may be hard at first, but it’s a super important step on the road to having a spacious and livable little home. Donate or sell whatever you decide to part with, and then organize the rest, so there’s a place for each thing in your home. 

Too much stuff for your small space? If you still have too much stuff for your little space after decluttering, consider putting some of it away in storage. Seasonal items and too-big pieces of furniture (that you plan to use in the future) are just a couple of examples of the things that can be stored. PODS will deliver a portable storage container right to your driveway (or parking lot), where you can pack and load at your own pace. And when you’re ready, PODS will pick it up and keep it in a secure storage center until you need it.

A studio apartment with only a few pieces of furniture. The space features tall skinny elements like windows, curtains, a brick column, and a vertical accent section of the wall. These design elements make the room seem larger.

2. Make It Tall and Skinny.

Tall and skinny don’t just make for a good latte. When you approach the elements of your entire home with this mentality, your apartment will start to click. Long curtains and drapes add the illusion of space, as do tall bed frames. Skinny cabinets infuse a bit more breathing room into every space, and if you have the chance to do some remodeling, take a look at your windows. Tall (and in this case, large) windows go a long way to making an apartment or room feel bigger.

3. Mount Everything on the Wall.

Decorating small spaces doesn’t have to mean sacrificing functionality for aesthetic appeal. Case in point: If you want to make room in your apartment or home, there are ways you can stylishly turn wall space into floor space. That means mounting everything you can on walls, as long as it still looks good. When decorating vertically, think lamps (whether mounted or inset), cabinets, storage spaces, floating chairs, desks, TVs — you name it. Just make sure you have the right screws and washers and that your lease (if you have one) allows it.

This small living room features a window wall, which lets large amounts of natural light into the room, and a large mirror, which makes the space seem larger.

4. Learn To Love Large Mirrors

As you may have read in our article on must-have furniture pieces for small spaces, mirrors are your best friend when it comes to making a space feel larger than it is. Get your hands on a long vanity mirror to lean against a wall or even the more artistic circular mirror to work double-duty as an accent piece. If you really want to trick yourself (and your friends) into thinking your small space is anything but, check out this multi-pane mirror from Amazon. It’s one of the quickest and easiest entryway decorating ideas for small spaces!

5. Use Simple and Focused Color Schemes.

An age-old trick for opening up space in a cramped room is white painted walls. And while this certainly helps, that doesn’t mean you must avoid darker colors. You can meet in the middle by painting three walls in a light color and the fourth in a darker accent hue. Regarding decor, focus on one or two complementary colors and anchor them throughout the room or your entire home. When it comes to living small, simple is better.

A horizontal Murphy bed from Wayfair is shown in each of its functions: folded up into a desk and opened down into a queen size bed.

(Source: Wayfair.com)

6. Get Clever With Your Furniture.

“Convertible” doesn’t just apply to cars. When you’re decorating small spaces on a budget, the more uses one piece of furniture gets, the better. The possibilities are practically endless, but here are a few awesome pieces from Wayfair to get you started:

Q: How do you make a small space look luxurious?
If you want a high-end look without a high price tag, try a large piece of art or a gallery wall that incorporates your home’s color palette. This is a great focal point for you to design your space around and a simple way to add texture and color. And, yes, you can buy art on a budget. Many affordable options exist at local art shows, garage sales, second-hand stores, and even social media resale groups.

7. Install a Picture Wall.

Speaking of wall decor for small spaces, if you have a few pictures and mementos you want to display, using your necessary counter space for several picture frames may not be the best way to get the job done. Instead, turn a wall or a portion of a wall into a photo wall using cork material or, if you don’t want to do the whole floor-to-ceiling thing, hang a photo memo board.

A man is using a level to determine the correct placement of a large painting that he’s hanging in his apartment.

8. Consider That Bigger (Art) Is Better.

It may sound counterintuitive, but bigger is definitely better for wall decor for small spaces. Ditch the dozens of small photos, band posters, or paintings, and replace them with a single, large piece of art. It’ll act as a focal point for the room and actually make it feel larger than it is. And if you’re not a fan of large art pieces, you can reframe smaller pictures and paintings with larger mats and thinner frames to make them appear bigger.  

Q: How do you decorate a small space on a budget?
If you want to decorate your small space and keep costs down, start by decluttering and organizing the area. After all, it’s free and makes your home look instantly larger! Beyond that, you can opt for multipurpose furniture with added storage, like a hollow ottoman or platform bed with storage underneath. Thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, and garage sales can make decorating small spaces on a budget a cinch, too. Second-hand decor can be first-rate for decor shoppers looking for deals.

9. Keep Your Floor Cleared and Organized.

Square footage is valuable real estate when you don’t have much to work with. It’s much easier to notice clutter in a small area, which makes keeping your floor space neat and organized even more important. Start by getting creative with your storage space and designating a “home” for everything — shoes, throw blankets, bicycles, mail, etc. Develop a system to keep things organized and the floor clear of clutter. A great method is to have a decorative basket that you keep in a closet or the corner of your living room. At the end of each day, grab that basket and walk through your home, picking up all the little items that have accumulated throughout the day. If you have time, go ahead and put them where they go. If not, put the basket back in the closet and handle it when you have 15 minutes to spare. The daily walkaround is an easy five minutes of your day, and it’s worth it to make sure your walkways are actually walkable.

The living room of an apartment is made to appear larger through the use of a tall floor lamp placed in the corner.

10. Make a Room Bigger With Lighting.

There’s a reason why movie sets have entire teams dedicated to lighting. It can make or break a room, especially when it comes to decorating small spaces! Place vertical floor lamps in the room's corners to draw your eyes across the whole area. You should consider wall lamps, too, which free up valuable floor space and scatter more light. But it’s not all about electric lighting. Pulling in plenty of natural light from your windows will also help reduce the cramped feeling of the place.

11. Don’t Forget About the Holidays.

Just because you don’t have a ton of square footage or storage space doesn’t mean you can’t let your festive flag fly. Decorating small spaces for the holidays is easier than you might think! If you don’t have room for a six-foot tree, you can try a smaller variety, like this one from Target, or forgo the tree and opt for other sensory-inducing holiday decor items, like cinnamon potpourri, live greenery, or winter-themed candles. Don’t forget that there’s decorating space above your head, too. Using damage-free adhesive hooks, hang garland from the ceiling and decorate with ornaments, tinsel, or paper fans.

A small bedroom is spruced up with pops of color in the bedding, a unique bedframe, and textured floor rugs.

12. Spruce Up Your Small Bedroom.

But what about your small bedroom? Do you have any way to add decorative touches when you’re already maxing out the space with your bed and dresser? Of course, you do! If you don’t have room for a bedside table, stack some coffee table books or large hardback books and put a small lamp on top. Your bed and floor can have their own flourishes, too. Use a colorful bedspread and a few carefully chosen throw pillows for a pop of color (which we hear is very “in” right now). And if you want to add some texture to the space, try a jute rug, patterned headboard, or 3D wall art. For a vibrant effect, turn the wall behind your bed into an accent wall by decking it out with some funky wallpaper.

13. Balance With Feng Shui.

Our final tip is to decorate your pad with the careful touch of feng shui. This is especially important when decorating small spaces, because it’s much easier to feel the contrast between ill-placed furniture and colors when everything competes in close quarters. Approach your home decor with a sense of minimalism — understand that less is easier to balance than more. Find the centers of gravity in each room, depending on how you use it, and make sure the areas don't feel like they’re overcompensating by missing out on counter-balancing elements.

The beauty of home decor (and home remodeling) is that there are seemingly endless ways to bring your dream home to life. What tips did we miss? How did you make magic in your own small space? Tell us in the comments!

Heather Magness is a member of the PODS Blog creative team. When she’s not formatting images and blog layouts, you can find her writing a song, watching a movie, or enjoying the great outdoors.

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