It’s well-known that space is scarce in New York City apartments, from the 500 square foot, two-bedroom to the railroad apartment you can barely squeeze through, city dwellers have resigned themselves to the fact that they will never really have “space.”
One mistake often made by decorators attempting to give the illusion of extra square footage, is adopting a bare minimalist approach, which leaves the apartment impersonal and stale. Rather than stripping it bare, you can introduce a few simple strategies to your decor and maximize the space while creating a homey environment that is indicative of you and your personality.
What color for the walls?
Whether you have a stack of art collecting dust or you don’t know where to start when it comes to the walls, here are some tips on creating an arrangement that you and your landlord will love.
First, choose a light or neutral color for the walls. This will give your apartment a sense of space and openness and help your pieces to really shine. Remember, as boring as it sounds, you really can’t go wrong with white.
Make a gallery wall
What’s become a common strategy among the interior decorating elite is a gallery wall, which is a collection of art and objects that are grouped together on a wall. Choose a few of your favorite art pieces or prints.
Don’t have the art or can’t afford galleries or framing shops? One affordable option is Society6.com. Prints are available on any topic by independent artists starting at $15. Focus your selections on themes that represent you and make you feel light.
How to position items on the wall
The possibilities are endless when it comes to how to hang and this is what stops most people in their tracks. It can be overwhelming, but follow either of these two approaches to look like an experienced designer.
One popular option for small walls is to create a clustered gallery. Group your artwork together like a puzzle. Mixing framed and raw pieces can create a nice texture and the feel of a collage.
If you have a long wall or railroad-style apartment, a linear gallery will be best (photo above). To achieve this, simply line your pieces horizontally along the wall. Instead of aligning by the top of each piece, create a center line through the collection, keeping the top and bottom jagged. The space created above and below your artwork becomes interesting as well.
How to hang your artwork
Most NYC landlords have a “no holes in the wall” clause in the lease. In these cases, hanging multiple things on a wall can be tricky. To get around this, buy an inch-wide piece of wood just slightly longer than what you plan to hang. These pieces can be quickly cut for just a few dollars at any Home Depot. You can stain this wooden component or leave it its natural color.
Next, tie a piece of twine around each end of the wood and anchor it along the back with hot glue where it is knotted (photo above). Use carpet tacks to secure your artwork or print, creating a rustic look. Finally, you can hang your piece using Command adhesive hooks and voila! — no damage to the wall!
Use your sills, silly!
Window sills are often the most under-utilized place in urban apartments. Here lies another opportunity to express yourself with a small vignette, or stack a few of your favorite books alongside some memorable trinkets to ignite memories of your travels or loved ones.
You could also try hanging a few plants in the windows, nestled inside macramé holders.
A recent study reported that people who live with plants actually live longer, happier lives. And let’s face it, we need all the help we can get while living in the city that never sleeps.
A graduate of University of Missouri’s design program, Nina Berenato moved to New York City shortly after receiving her Bachelor of Arts. She has been working as creative director of her own jewelry line, Psyche Jewelry since 2012, and as a freelance merchandising consultant for retail clients.