Small Apartment Decorating Ideas

By Kealia Reynolds
Photo by Michele Equitz

When it comes to small apartment decorating, form is just as important as function, and with such little space, balance is important in creating a space that is both efficient and useful.

Before you decorate, declutter

Before decorating your space, take the time to declutter. You’ll need all the space you can get in your apartment, so examine each piece of furniture, all systems and appliances, and your décor to determine which items you really need to keep. Get rid of any duplicate items. The more you get rid of, the more flexibility you have to decorate your space.

After decluttering, evaluate how you use each room in your apartment. Do you typically eat at a dining room table or do you use the breakfast bar? How much time do you spend in your living room or on your balcony? If there are rooms that you spend more time in, prioritize furniture and décor for those areas first.

When redecorating, it can be easy to splurge on eye-catching items, like those Anthropologie bed linens or Pottery Barn dishware sets. Set a budget for yourself. Allocate money toward items that serve dual purposes and areas that see a lot of use. If you don’t, those expensive wants will quickly take over and leave you with less money for decorating the more important rooms in your apartment.

One last tip—measure your space. Buying the incorrectly sized furniture for a small apartment can make it feel cramped and overcrowded. Measure the square footage of each room and take precise measurements of stairwells, doorways, and hallways to ensure your furniture will actually be able to fit into the apartment.

Decorating your apartment by room


Most small apartments don’t have much of an entryway (when I walk through my front door, I basically step right into my kitchen), but if you do have a long hallway or wide foyer, dress up the space with a wooden hutch. It doesn’t have to be too fancy (you don’t want to clutter an already small space)—just something to hold your keys, mail, and anything else you might need when you walk out the door.

Read more: Entryway Inspiration From All Angles


Your kitchen is probably one of the more functional rooms in your apartment, so it’s okay if most of the décor is functional. But just because it’s functional doesn’t mean it has to be boring. If you have open shelves in your kitchen, show off your favorite cookbooks, sugar and spice jars (and other frequently used cooking supplies), and special dish sets. Polish your stainless steel appliances and decorate your refrigerator and dishwasher with stylish magnets and photos.

Read more: Inspiration for Tiny Kitchens

Living room

As one of the most “lived in” spaces in your apartment, your living room deserves to be well-decorated. Lightly colored rugs can open up the room and make it feel larger while decorative pillows can make seating feel intimate and welcoming. If you have deep window sills, arrange a couple of pillows for a custom window seat. And you can never go wrong with an easy-to-maintain houseplant. Take the time to repair squeaky ceiling fans and burnt out lightbulbs to really appreciate your space.

See more living room inspiration: Living Room Inspiration From All Angles


The dining space in most apartments is severely limited; typically, your “dining room” is the breakfast bar. If this is the case, liven up your seating with geometric bar chairs. You can also personalize the space with a rolling bar cart or simple liquor tray. For those that do have space for a small dining room set (lucky you), fasten a colorful seat cover on the chairs for a pop of color or let the table double as prep space or a home office.

Laundry room

This room can be a little tricky since most small apartments don’t actually have rooms sectioned off for laundry: most will have a communal laundry room or a stacked washer and dryer within a closet. In my apartment, my washer and dryer hide behind two doors so they’re out of sight, out of mind for the most part. Keeping noisy appliances behind closed doors can also maintain peace and ambiance throughout the rest of your home. Laundry can be such a pain (read: all the time), so I try to organize my space with a few wicker baskets for detergent, dryer sheets, etc.

Read more: One Laundry Room to Rule Them All


This is by far one of my favorite areas to search for on Pinterest, mainly because my balcony is still bare after nine months but also because there are tons of ideas out there for smaller spaces. If you don’t have a balcony, feel free to skip this section, but for those that do, here are my favorite decorating tips:

  • Balconies are the perfect setting for lounging and relaxing. Invest in patio furniture and hang plants or create your own vegetable container garden. You’ll feel like you’re in your own greenhouse paradise.
  • Relax with one of your favorite scents by bringing a scented candle outside to enjoy in all seasons. Just be sure that you don’t place candles next to plants and that you’re allowed to light candles, per your building or coop rules.

Read more: 6 Ways to Decorate Your Apartment Balcony


Styling a small bathroom can seem tricky, especially if you’re working with minimal square footage. Add an over-the-toilet storage rack like the one pictured above to hang hand towels. Even something as simple as swapping out a boring, plastic trash can with a woven basket will transform the space. It also doesn’t hurt to add other pieces of artwork on the walls. Taking advantage of wall space is crucial when there isn’t much room for any other decorations.

Another bathroom decorating tip: Tie eucalyptus to your shower head. When you take hot showers, the steam will rise up to the plant and fill your bathroom with a relaxing and invigorating aroma.

See more bathroom inspiration: Bathroom Inspiration From All Angles

Photo by Michele Equitz
Photo by Michele Equitz


There is no shortage of ways to decorate your bedroom. Layer your bed with different fabrics and linens to give depth and character to what is arguably one of the biggest pieces of furniture in your home. Mount open shelving to showcase photos and travel finds or go for a statement piece right above the bed.

Read more: 8 Wall Décor Ideas for Your Home

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