By Scott Harris
Living in a shoebox has been an important rite of passage for many city dwellers.
You scored that nearly-affordable apartment and you’re finally you’re living on your own.
While your dreams of having a MTV-styled “Real World” loft party are probably going to have to wait, the realities of small-apartment living don’t have to be bad.
In fact, they can provide an excellent transition from dorm-living to adulthood.
The first step is to figure out where you want your different spaces to be.
While some apartment layouts make it easy to know what goes there, your apartment’s layout may not be so obvious.
Do you have a separate bedroom?
If not, where is your sleeping area going to be?
How are you going to make the spaces feel separated?
Let’s say you have an alcove instead of an actual bedroom.
Why not try tall back-to-back bookshelves? They not only create a separation, but they are amazing for storage.
If you are on a shoestring budget, the furniture from your apartment share or even dorm room might come in handy.
Maybe those wooden cube shelves can be repurposed for your new space.
If you do have a bedroom, decide if you need an office in or out of the bedroom.
Perhaps you can combine your dining area and office into one functional space.
Nothing makes a small apartment feel tinier than furniture that is too large.
So be careful!
Design-Studio Owner Cathy Hobbs of Apherea, uses painting to separate the spaces: She says, “My favorite design trick for small spaces, involves a painting technique in which a horizontal stripe is painted on an accent color in a bold color like chocolate. It create interest, beautifully highlights framed black and white photographs that can be placed above it and best of all helps to extend a space”.
Newly-minted West Village studio dweller Alana Siegel stresses patience. “It may take a bit longer to find the perfect furniture that fits, but it is important to maximize storage space.”
If you have a very small space, a Murphy Bed is key.
Not only does your bed hide away when you have people over, but you don’t have to make the bed!
The easiest ways to save space are to find efficient furniture that serves two purposes.
For instance, Ikea has many beds with storage underneath.
Buy an expandable dining table or one that can be a desk or dining table.
In the kitchen, can you hang your pots and pans from hooks connected to the ceiling?
Can you mount a magnetic knife rack from the wall?
If you don’t plan on cooking in the apartment, have an acceptable amount of plates (4), a few glasses (4-5) and use the rest of the kitchen storage for seasonal clothing.
If you have a dishwasher, that’s also a great place to store your dishes.
How’s your closet space?
Anyone with more than 5 pairs of shoes needs to give serious thought to a multilayer shoe rack and to planning every square inch of his or her closet space.
Ms. Siegel found huggable hangers from the Home Shopping Network as well as the Container Store to be life savers.
Nothing makes an apartment feel smaller than furniture that’s too large for the space!
Modern technology makes enjoyment of TV and music far easier, even in a tiny apartment.
It’s time to buy that LCD flat panel TV – Prices have come down substantially (maybe now is not the time for at 46″ model, though).
Create a small wireless network, use a laptop or use your TV as the computer screen.
Put all of your DVDs and CDs on a hard drive and send the originals to the ‘rents.
New hard drives can even be connected directly to your TV to watch movies you’ve downloaded.
Do I need to mention to keep clutter to a minimum?
Lots of lighting options, like lamps, track lighting will allow you to light up the areas of your apartment that you’re
using and to delineate different “moments” in the apartment.
Also, Ms. Hobbs warns that “more than two colors paired with a neutral accent like white or cream
will look overwhelming. Choose two distinct colors and create a color scheme using various shades and tones of those two colors, occassionally adding a single pop of color here and there.”
Using even a few of these tricks will maximize your space and turn your Hobbit hole into a home!