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Apartment Living: How to Create a Modern Aesthetic in a Small Space

If you live in the city, apartments are the most common types of residence. Unless you are part of the 1%, a small apartment, loft or condominium is usually the answer to living right in the center of things. 

Since you will be spending more than half of your time in your apartment, it pays to decorate the space. Despite its small size, an apartment doesn’t have to stifle your interior design creativity. In fact, a well-executed and modern design can transform a relatively small space into an airy and expansive-looking one.

Here are ten clever tips and tricks for providing your apartment with a modern aesthetic.

1. Perfect the Essentials

Most small apartment designers make the mistake of ignoring the essentials when they’re creating their interior design plan.

We’re talking heating, cooling, and all the other necessities that go into any home. Rather than working around them, we’re going to make the most of a small space by working with them.

Your choice in heating is going to make a big impact on a small apartment. A larger home might be able to hide or hide their HVAC system, but it’s going to be out in the open in your apartment.

This means you need to go with something that matches your decor and your vibe. You could go with a vintage radiator to match a vintage vibe, or you can pick up a direct vent wall furnace that can blend more seamlessly into the room.

Embrace your utilities in order to unlock the full potential of a small space.

2. Know What You’re Working With

Once you get the essentials down, you need to know what you’re working with.

Take a moment to take stock of the fixtures, furniture, and decor you already have. There’s a good chance you’re not working with a totally blank canvas.

At the very least, you’ll have to consider things like the type of flooring you have and whether a full bathroom remodel is in the cards.

This will give you a sense of the size and scope of the decorating project you’re working on.

3. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting

Lighting has one of the biggest impacts on your apartment.

Soft light can be very soothing and welcoming while accent lighting creates dramatic tones that add energy. In addition, light can make a small space seem bigger by dispelling the gloom and shadows that permeate the corners and edges of a room.

The key to light in a modern aesthetic apartment is to consider what you already have. How can you best use available natural light and fixtures? Consider those two light sources to be the foundation that you build on with the rest of your light choices.

4. Make Some Color Decisions

Now is the time to take out your color swatches and get planning. The start of mindfully redecorating your apartment begins with picking the right colors.

Think about things like color psychology and any statement pieces you might own that can help you decide your core color choices. You can find build those core color choices out in two full pallets that you can use to dictate the colors you use in your apartment

5. Pick Statement Pieces

Statement pieces are the focal points of the room that they’re in. This could be a decisively placed piece of furniture—like your bed—or it could be a bold piece of decor that demands attention.

Having a few statement pieces in each room will give your room some dynamic flair and help with flow.

6. Choose the Right Furniture

The furniture you have in your apartment is a great way to express yourself. There are plenty of trends in furniture, but what matters most is that you pick decor that you love.

If you’re stuck on picking the right furniture for your apartment, make a short list of the most important features you need. These can include things like lots of storage for your possessions or a particular design inspiration like Industrial.

7. Focal Points and Flow

For every room you decorate, you need to consider the focal points and flow.

Focal points are areas that naturally draw attention. These are often the statement pieces we talked about above. A focal point could also be part of a room like a reading nook or bartop counter.

Flow is how people can move through your room. The way you set up furniture and decor helps guide your guess through your space. You want to create a flow that is natural, easy to navigate, and calming.

8. Minimalist VS Maximalist

Minimalists have a natural advantage when decorating a small apartment.

Small apartments can be very aesthetic when decorated with a minimalist eye. This allows you to get the most out of statement pieces and gives you an easy time creating flow through a modest living space.

If you’re a maximalist by nature, you’re going to have a challenge on your hands. A larger living space would give you plenty of floor space to dedicate with an abundance of objects, but your small apartment is much more demanding.

A great way to express maximalist design in a small apartment is to focus on the core that is loud rather than a lot of different items. Feel free to experiment with styles, color combinations, and anything else that might be a bit too dramatic for the minimalist aesthetic.

9. Look for Inspiration When You Get Stuck

Inspiration is everywhere—even in places that might surprise you.

Definitely take a look at the styles that you really like, but also explore interior design styles and traditions that are outside of your box.

You don’t have to go rugged when looking at cabin decor for inspiration. It could be as simple as the way the furniture is positioned or how textures helped the space to flow. Drawing from a variety of styles will create a unique space rather than something out of an advertisement catalog.

10. Draw Up a Floor Plan

Your final step in creating a modern aesthetic in a small living space is to draw the floor plan.

Your floor plan doesn’t have to be professional, but it should be as accurate as you can make it. A floor plan will give you a visual of where everything lays out.

There are also plenty of floor plan apps out there that you can check out. Many of these even offer basic 3D modeling, so you can get a real sense of your room before you even step in it.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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