image of small apartment decorating ideas

One of the key small apartment decorating ideas is that everything that can get mounted on the wall — storage, tables, TVs — should. From a StreetEasy listing at 2 Sutton Place South.

Living in a small New York apartment does require some sacrifices, but decor doesn’t have to be one of them. Sure, small apartment decor can be tricky — figuring out how, for example, to make it functional but not cramped, or how to fill it with character without looking chaotic. These nine small apartment decorating ideas will help you tackle the challenges and create a living space that looks just as polished as it is petite.

1. Floating Furniture Is Your Friend

Whether it’s shelves, sconces, or a pair of nightstands, wall-mounted pieces offer valuable storage or a handy perch without taking up floor space. Having as much open floor space as possible will provide your home with much-needed breathing room (and reduce the likelihood of stumbles and toe stubs).

2. Mirrors, Mirrors on the Wall

This is one of the most popular small apartment decorating ideas, and for good reason — mirrors have an incredible illusionary effect, bouncing light around the room and making it feel instantly bigger and brighter. Hang mirrors on the wall, lean them on the floor, and sprinkle your space with metallic and lacquered accents. The more reflective surfaces, the better.

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3. Go Double Duty

Invest in pieces that can serve multiple purposes, whether it’s a storage ottoman that doubles as a coffee table or a chest of drawers that can also hold your TV. We love this sleek storage bed from IKEA, which offers under-bed drawers for stashing your linens and other bedroom essentials, saving you precious closet and shelf space.

4. Choose the Right Lighting

If you’re lucky enough to attract lots of natural light, play it up with sheer curtains and plenty of mirrors. But even if your home lacks natural light, you can still make that small apartment feel airy and bright with a mix of layered lighting, including an overhead pendant that bathes the room in a warm, sunshine-y glow.

5. Get a Large Rug

It may feel counterintuitive, but trust us: A large rug will make your room feel larger, while a tiny one will — well, you get the idea. Choose a rug that’s large enough for all the furniture in your room to sit on, and don’t shy away from bold colors or patterns. A graphic rug will anchor the space, making it feel homier.

image of small apartment decorating ideas

In small apartment decor, mirrors are your friend. From a StreetEasy listing at 10 Christopher St.

6. Bring in the Fold

You don’t need to use every piece of furniture all the time. If you only use your desk on the weekends, for example, or set the dining table only for special occasions, consider pieces that you can fold away. This wall-mounted desk/table would bring a rustic-chic edge to any living room or kitchen.

7. Play With Scale

Similar to our advice about rugs, don’t only stick to small furniture pieces. While you don’t want to clutter up the room with lots of oversize furniture, you do want to make sure and include at least one statement piece. For example, in a small living room, you could pair a streamlined settee, like this one, with a dramatic overhead chandelier.

8. Play With Color

Neutrals are a great option for small spaces, making them feel light and airy. But if you love color, don’t feel you have to avoid it — just make sure you stick to a tight color scheme. While it does require bravery, we’re big fans of dark walls in a small bedroom — it makes things feel like a cozy cocoon.

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9. Draw the Eye Up

Draw the eye up to make the ceilings look higher — and your small apartment feel bigger. The easiest ways to do this: hanging plants, a stunning floor-to-ceiling wallpaper, or sweeping curtains (or all of the above). Hang your curtains well above the top of your window and extend them a few inches on either side to make your windows appear taller and wider — then let the fabric pool on the floor.

Inspired to find your next place in New York? Whether you’re looking to rent or to buy, search NYC apartments on StreetEasy.