Decorating doesn’t have to be difficult. Tiny living spaces don’t have to be cramped and cluttered. With so many affordable, innovative options out there, you can outfit your tiny space and still have room to dance a jig.

One of the greatest misconceptions of resourceful living is that design and décor have to be compromised and replaced by efficiency and functionality.

Not the case. You really can have it all.

You can still create a warm, inviting space that is open, fresh, and affordable to create, a space that fills your needs and matches who you are. Check out these 15 tips that let you have the kind of space you want to come home to while still letting your authenticity and character shine through.

Decorating on a Shoestring Budget

1) Find Rounded Furniture Options

Believe it or not, choosing furniture that is soft around the edges will give your home the impression that it is open while keeping it from feeling monotone.

Find end tables that are round and chairs that boast comfortable curves. Hard edges give the room a hard feel. Try and find pieces that meet the natural shapes of your apartment, too.

You can find affordable furniture like this just about anywhere. If local or online options don’t suit your fancy, don’t be afraid to explore your local second-hand shop or antique store. These places are filled to the brim with affordable furniture.

2) Multi Purpose Furniture

The first thing we think of when we hear “multi-purpose furniture” is a sleeper sofa or futon. But there are other multi-purpose options out there to keep your pad uncluttered and your space neat and efficient.

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Take a storage coffee table, for instance. For less than $200 bucks, you have a coffee table, a desk, and a storage space all in one.

Seriously, how amazing is that?

If you bought three separate units, you’d be in over your head by at least $1000.

Take a look around your apartment. Where can you consolidate and utilize “two-for-one” furniture options?

3) Consider Floating Furniture

Floor and counter space in tiny apartments is minimal. Cluttering them up with standing furniture or appliances can keep you from dancing those jigs you so badly want to dance in your kitchen.

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Take a look at different floating furniture options. The most popular are bookshelves. Instead of a clunky bookcase, install affordable shelving in a few different places in your apartment.

Benches attached to the wall are also a great option, giving you space below the bench to store shoes, books, or other quick-access items.

4) Go To An Estate Sale

Estate sales provide frugal furniture seekers with opportunities to snag incredibly low-priced couches, tables, pictures, lamps, rugs, and then some. Most of the time, estate sales come at a time in someone’s life where they need to downsize for one reason or another. This gives them motive to let some really nice pieces go at a fraction of the cost.

You can check your area for estate sales by taking a look at your local newspaper. If the newspaper is online, do a quick search to find out where they typically place these kinds of ads.

5) Transform Your Closet

Of all of the ideas here, this might be the most creative.

(Photo: Courtesy of Country Living)

Instead of shoving a bunch of clothes you rarely wear into that little closet in the foyer, upgrade that space to a small office or other multi-purpose room.

Too often, we use closet space the wrong way for clothes and storage. Boxes end up piled on top of each other and jackets that were hip in 2000 need to be kicked to the curb.

Add floating shelves along the back wall in the closet to create a desk and storage area above the desk. No place to put pens, pencils, or tape? Buy a door organizer and hang it on the door to store smaller items that could otherwise clutter your desk.

If your workspace gets messy and friends are on their way, simply close the door. Who knew cleaning up could be so fast and easy?

Decorating With a Polar Opposite Roommate

1) Make a Plan Together

If you live with a roommate who loves pink with white polka dots while you thrive on vintage décor and distressed furniture, coming together to merge two completely different tastes could be a challenge.

But it could be a fun challenge.

Sit down and talk about colors that fit both your palettes. Maybe pink and maroon walls with a black chair rail are a great start. If you both go in with a plan together, bringing all related furniture makes for a fun, creative project. If your roomie is new to you this is also a great way to get to know them.

2) Skillfully Break Down A Common Space

Studio spaces aren’t an uncommon find, especially in old warehouse districts in larger cities. The good news is they’re typically affordable. The not-so-good news is that it can be hard to determine whose space is whose without borders.

When you’re mapping out your plan, take the time to draw out where those borders should be. Once that’s done, you can use a handful of ways to “split” one common space from another. Try options like:

  • Dark, heavy curtains
  • Shoji screens
  • Large bookshelves
  • Couches and chairs

When you carefully delineate areas, it gives you a sense of measured space while creating new spaces for guests or your own privacy.

3) Find a Mutual Organizing System

Remember the back door organizer discussed in the first section? When you and your roommate sit down to talk about decorating options, consider a mutual organizing system that works for both of you.

Maybe the back door organizer could work in the pantry for certain goods while a window seat/storage area is ideal for storing winter coats and boots.

The top of the refrigerator can serve as a home for plants or other dried goods while the window sill in the kitchen becomes a little garden for freshly grown cilantro or basil.

With limited space to share, coming up with a system saves time and heartache down the road. Not to mention you’ll always know where to look when the snow starts falling and you need your boots.

4) Unclutter Regularly

Accumulating clutter is normal for many. Walk into any given home and you’ll find a place where bills and other mail pile up all the time. Perhaps it happens on a counter where, just below is a junk drawer, filled with odds and ends that don’t matter anymore.

Go through these areas and unclutter regularly. Get rid of items you don’t need. Emptying out a junk drawer means opening up a new space to keep things that matter.

If you’re not using your closet as a storage room or office, go through the accumulating contents there, too. Donate items you no longer wear or use. Giving back feels just as good as uncluttering does.

5) Find Combining Accent Pieces

Once your walls are painted and your closets figured out, it’s time to add the finishing touches. The problem is that your roommate has a pink couch and you have black, distressed end tables. They don’t go together.

Or do they?

Eclectic decorating works all the time, no matter the era. Find some black throw pillows to accent the couch. Pull in those chairs with some neutral colored pillows to wash out the two primary colors and give the room depth.

Wa-la. Magic has happened. And now your living room looks so cool.

Opening Up Dark, Tiny Spaces 

1) Creatively Open Unused Spaces

You know that dark corner when you walk into your apartment? The area behind the door where scary things lurk?

Open up that bad boy.

Bring life to this dead space and think practical thoughts. How can you utilize it to your advantage?

If you’re like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, having your keys in the same location is important. Set up a small table with a bowl for your keys and change. Add some LED lights around the table or on a vase to brighten the area.

If there’s an outlet there, even better. Set a lamp on top of the table that throws soft light into that tiny space. You can even utilize the space under the table for shoes or recyclable grocery bags.

2) Stack Your Storage

Finding places to store your stuff might be the biggest challenge you face, especially in a super-tiny space.

That’s where rotating shelving comes in.

If you’re in a place that is smaller than your old bedroom at home, a unit like this is the ultimate solution to stack your storage and open up more floor space.

By sliding part of the bookshelf out of the way, you can pull down your queen size bed and snooze the night away.

Mom coming to visit the next day? No problem. Push the bed back up and move the rotating shelves back into place. The best part is, you didn’t even need to make your bed. It’s unmade behind the wall and no one will ever know.

3) Choose Light Colors

It’s no secret that light colors make little spaces look big. Not only do they open up a room, they give you the opportunity to change and redesign without worrying about dragging out a ladder and paintbrush every time.

If you’re a “bold color” person, you can make up for it by decorating with bold colored furniture or rugs. Add wall art that accents the furniture.

The more light colors you add, the more your little space will welcome you with open arms.

4) Add Depth With Layering

Layering is fun. It also adds depth to the room, giving it a cozy, lived in feel.

You can start layering by choosing a throw rug that matches your couch. Now seek out throw pillows that contrast the rug and couch. Make sure the pieces you choose have varying materials and patterns.

Choosing “flat” pillows or rugs won’t give your room that layered look. It may actually continue to make it look smaller. Instead, find elements that offer bold design or edges.

Complete your layering with really great wall art and lamps, all the while pulling one color from one piece of furniture into another piece. The result is an eclectic, fun, and colorful room with depth.

5) Let in the Light

Lighting is everything. Even at night, subtle lighting can make or break a room. But when it comes to making your small apartment feel big, you need to let the sun shine in a whole lot.

Pull back the curtains and throw up the blinds. If your windows are small or you’re in a basement apartment, you’ll need to do this and learn to utilize indoor lighting.

Between light colored walls, open windows, light colored furniture, and really cool lamps in the corners, you’ll be able to open up your tiny apartment in no time.


Some of the tiniest apartments are the coolest. They’re small, intimate spaces filled with character. Each corner has a story, too.

Living in a small apartment doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style or design. By working to find a balance between efficiency and style, you’ll discover ways to create a smart space that your friends might envy and work to emulate themselves.

Oh. And if you’re Mom stays over and decides to sleep in the rotating queen bed, please make sure you remove her before pushing it back into the wall. She really is a nice lady.