Furnishing a Small Apartment: 10 Tips for Finding Great Furniture

Shopping for furniture for your small apartment on the cheap is harder than it sounds. A tiny space poses a challenge to all but the most diligent of self-styled home designers.

While that plush sectional looked great online, it doesn’t look so great sticking out of your living room and loitering in the dining space. If you’re moving into a small apartment, it’s probably best that you forgo the sectional and opt for a sofa that complements your tiny space and is light on your wallet. So what is small for an apartment? It depends. If you live in New York City, it may be 400 square feet. While Virginians may think 800 square feet is small. For the purposes of this article, we’ll define a small apartment as anything from 400 square feet to 800 square feet. Here are some ideas for how to furnish a small apartment that will save you money and make your small home feel larger than life.

Style One Room at a Time

Trying to furnish every single room can get quite overwhelming, which is why you should tackle each space on its own. Ideas take time to form, and trying to measure every single room and come up with creative uses of space will feel more like a chore than it has to be. If your goal is to come in under budget, be patient. Sloppiness leads to corner-cutting, which is the basis of buyer remorse and overspending. Start with your living room, and figure out what you need and what you have room for. When everything has been measured and purchased, that’s when you can move onto the next room.

Set a Budget

Everyone wants to inject a little personality into their home, so it’s easy to overspend. This is why it’s great to set a budget before you even start looking for furniture. To do this, think function and space by honing in on a budget per room. Doing so will help narrow your search to couches, tables, etc., that are in your price range. Keep in mind that if you purchase a couch that’s below budget, you may be able to splurge on other items, like a rug or a coffee table. Define the projects at the start — such as your play areas, office and living space – and you’ll have the right focus to accomplish your tasks.

Think About the Big Picture

When I was furnishing my small apartment, I focused on getting one piece at a time; like the sofa, then the coffee table, then the TV stand, etc. I didn’t really think about how all of these elements would blend together. I ended up with a sleek black coffee table, an old wood TV stand and a light-colored leather couch – not exactly a space designed by Nate Berkus. So my advice to you would be to consider how all of these individual elements would look and function when paired. Identify a style you like, whether it’s modern, vintage or rustic, and look for furnishings that fit that particular design and add depth to your small apartment. This is known as layering, and it can make your small space really pop.

Think Before You Buy

You should never go shopping for apartment furniture the same way that you buy clothes. Making a heat of the moment decision on a pair of pants or a shirt isn’t really a big deal. But when you buy a sofa or a coffee table without thinking about it, you may be in trouble. Instead of buying furnishings right away, sleep on it. You may wake up the next day and realize you don’t want what you thought you wanted.

Measure Everything and Get Creative

Never buy anything for your apartment before measuring the defined areas first. Because you live in a small space, you’ll have to get creative with your apartment decorating ideas. When pre-planning, instead of just buying a couch or an ottoman, look for pieces that serve more than one function. Don’t have office space? Consider a coffee table for the living room that doubles as a computer desk and storage. For instance, search for a sofa that has a pull-out bed. This feature will come in very handy when you have overnight guests.

You can also look for ottomans that open up to reveal storage space. Ottomans are a perfect place to store magazines and TV remotes, both of which can easily clutter up the surface of your coffee table.

Don’t forget to measure the dimensions of your apartment door as well. Take it from me – I forgot to do this, and trying to get my couch in the door was like trying to fit a watermelon through a keyhole.

Make It Float

Be sure you’re arranging your furniture in a way that makes it easy for you and your guests to move about the room. You don’t want to have to climb over your coffee table in order to get to the kitchen. One idea for decorating your small apartment is to think above the surface. That is, opt for furniture that sits above the floor, either on legs or by wall mounts. This will lead to less clutter, and make it easier for your eye to follow the flow of the room. Some ideas for a floating design include shelves (these can go above couches and doorways for a built-in aesthetic), wall-mounted desks (you will free up space by taking the legs of the desk out of the equation) and even a dresser can be mounted against the wall.

Add a Light-Colored Rug

Believe it or not, adding a light-colored rug to your living room floors can instantly help your apartment feel more spacious. Plus, rugs can add some warmth to your floors and help the space feel a lot more comfortable. Select a rug that matches your sofa and coffee table. If you’re feeling rebellious, considering picking a rug that contrasts with the rest of the room to add a sense of depth and to break up the monotony.

Shape Shift

Don’t be boring – too much of one thing may work for the sake of consistency, but it can also cause the eye to glaze over. Where there’s too many straight lines, introduce a curve. Consider adding a circular piece in the center of the room to serve as a focal point. This can be anything from a couch, table or artwork.

Be Patient

Furnishing your apartment takes time, and although you wish it would happen overnight, it doesn’t. Give yourself time to get settled, and your apartment will eventually look just like you want it to.

Ask For a Second Opinion

Even if you’re living by yourself, it can be good to get a second opinion on the major furnishing that you’re buying, like a sofa and a coffee table. My go-to person for a second opinion would be my mother. She’s never afraid to tell me what’s absolutely hideous, and what would look good.

rent.com: Furnishing a Small Apartment: 10 Tips for Finding Great Furniture. 02. July 2019. https://www.rent.com/blog/furnishing-a-small-apartment-10-tips-for-finding-great-furniture/

Join The Discussion

Compare listings