Small apartment furniture ideas often feel like a jigsaw. There are certain pieces you need to get in, but working out how they will all fit - and not feel crammed - is sometimes a total puzzle.
But even if the space is little, with a bit of design expertise you can still go big on style. In fact, the best ideas for decorating an apartment don't compromise on square footage at all.
'Choosing the right furniture for your apartment is extremely important to make the most of the space,' says interior designer Ann Marie Cousins, of AMC Design. 'Try and purchase furniture that has a double function - such as a coffee table or ottoman with storage, a bed that lifts up easily with storage underneath, or a window that can double as banquette seating for a dining area.'
Patricia Gibbons, Design Team at sofa.com, agrees that small apartment furniture needs to work overtime. 'Space can be so hard to find, especially when living in smaller apartments,' she says. 'Most layouts are commonly open plan and space is at a premium. The best way to organize a compact space is to make your furniture do more for you. Opt for multifunctional pieces to extend your storage spaces and sleeping capacity.'
Small apartment furniture ideas
1. Pick corner or chaise sofas
Corner sofas are ideal as small apartment living room ideas, maximizing every inch of space and offering an inviting, sumptuous seating option that doesn't compromise on style or lounging prowess.
The experts at King Living add: 'Another way to maximise seating is to choose a modular sofa with a chaise element that reconfigures into different arrangements. Adding a chaise allows you to have options for lounging and extra seating for entertaining.'
2. Go for slimline or wall-mounted bathroom units
Small apartments don't have to compromise on style or functionality. When planned well, a compact bathroom can be incredibly efficient. Always start by considering your bathroom routine and how the space can best cater for it.
Becky Dix, Head of Design at The Luxury Bath Company , says: 'It’s important to maximize every inch of the bathroom when space is in short supply. Look to corner units, clever storage solutions, slim basins and toilets. Consider matching finishes of your brassware, flush plates, and accessories to give a cohesive aesthetic running through the space; this will ensure there are not too many competing colors in one small area.'
She continues: 'Corner and combination units will allow you to make the most of the space. Choose a slimline basin and wall-mounted cabinet that will remove clutter from sight and keep everything well organized.'
3. Think outside the box
Furniture ideas can be more fluid than you may first think. For example, just because a piece is not called a 'bedside table' doesn't mean it can't work as one.
Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at Albion Nord, says: 'Don't be afraid to use unusual furniture pieces to work in the space - a bedside table doesn't always have to be a bedside table, if you are compromised for space use something interesting and unexpected as an alternative.'
4. Add banquette seating to a small kitchen
If your small apartment space doesn't extend to a separate dining room, you can create a cozy and sociable space with a banquette seating area.
Not only does banquette seating provide a place to gather round for coffee breaks, breakfast and dinner, it can also be a good small apartment storage idea - with seats lifting to reveal extra space beneath.
The banquette seating shown in the image by Benjamin Moore above also cleverly uses a round bistro set to save further space.
5. Use reflective or transparent pieces to reduce 'visual bulk'
Hanging mirrors is a well known tried-and-true way to make a tiny apartment feel bigger. But have you thought about applying the rule to your furniture choices?
The reflective coffee table in the small apartment living room by Milc Interiors above shows how space-expanding mirrored pieces can brighten up a small room. Make the furniture work doubly hard by incorporating hidden storage inside.
Similarly, transparent pieces and ghost furniture can allow you to introduce more pieces into the room without making it feel cluttered, as your eye passes straight through it, working to reduce 'visual bulk'.
6. Choose built-in or customized storage to maximize space
Optimize every inch of space and splash out on bespoke storage if your budget allows - it's an investment worth making as far as apartment storage ideas go.
Philipp Nagel, Director of Neatsmith, says: 'Bespoke designs, unlike freestanding furniture, enable you to make the most of every bit of available space in your home – be that simply a perfectly fitted full length wall of impactful wardrobes, or working around more awkward architectural features such as sloped ceilings, chimney breasts, and alcoves.'
Reflective or mirrored fronts are also ideal for small spaces thanks to their visual space-expanding properties.
Bespoke furniture isn't just limited to wardrobes; you can also create handy hidden apartment office ideas as well as shelving and entertainment units. 'Choosing bespoke not only creates furniture that completely fits the space in your home but it also maximizes all the available storage opportunities,' Philipp adds.
7. Play with scale and go large with your furniture choices
Don't compromise on the scale of your furniture - a small room doesn't mean it needs small pieces.
King Living agrees, adding: 'The key in a small apartment space is to ensure your furniture is suited to the space available. Nothing makes a room look smaller than filling it with undersized furniture.'
And Irene Gunter, of Gunter & Co says: 'A few pieces of big, beautiful furniture is more space-enhancing than lots of smaller pieces of furniture.'
So, choose that superking bed or that huge squishy sofa - you won't regret it.
8. Opt for sofas with narrow or no arms
Make more room for bums on seats by choosing sofas and accent chairs with slim or no arms.
Bulky arms can take up precious room in a space-starved lounge, so no-arm or arrow choices are ideal for studio apartment layouts. 'Consider a sofa with slimmer profile arms to make the most of the seating,' says King Living.
9. Lift your sofa and visual space with legs
Smaller rooms benefit from selecting sofas with slimmer proportions (for example, arrow arms) and sleek, clean silhouettes.
By raising your sofa off the floor, it gives a more airy aesthetic and the appearance of more room by opening up the floor space and not blocking the eyeline.
Patricia Gibbons, Design Team at sofa.com, says: 'Whether a corner sofa design, a larger three-seater or loveseat size, choose a model with elegant, tapered legs which raise the frame from the floor to give the illusion of more floor space.'
10. Dive into a Murphy, divan or ottoman bed
'One great way to maximize furniture and function is a Murphy bed,' says Marie Flanigan, of Marie Flanigan Interiors. 'I’ve installed these beds in a number of my client’s guest homes and it adds additional room when square footage is typically at a minimum.'
A Murphy bed is hinged at one end so you can fold it up and store it against the wall or inside built-in cabinet or closet space.
Other brilliant small bedroom ideas are divan or ottoman beds.
Divan beds contain drawers under the bed frame for storing extra essentials, while ottoman beds see the whole mattress lifting to reveal storage space underneath.
'If storage is an absolute must in your bedroom, there are two types of beds which can help you stay organized and keep your floor clutter free,' says Patricia Gibbons, Design Team at sofa.com.
'For everyday access, the divan styles are best as the drawers are easily accessible for daily needs, but if your requirements are for seasonal change overs of clothing, or duvets and blankets, then an ottoman bed is the one for you.
'The hidden storage uncovered is vast and can hold countless sets of bedding and suitcases, but you wouldn’t want to be lifting it up and down on too regular a basis.'
11. Place a storage bench at the end of the bed
If you're not ready to invest in a new bed, a storage bench or ottoman is another helpful small bedroom storage idea.
Sofa.com's Patricia Gibbons says: 'For smaller items, look to storage benches and ottoman footstools sat at the end of the bed to quickly stash away laptops and chargers if your bedroom is now your home office and reclaim the space as one fit for relaxation in the evenings.'
You could also opt for a unique look by choosing an antique piece. Martin Waller of Andrew Martin suggests: 'Perhaps add a vintage trunk at the end of your bed for extra wardrobe space or bed linen storage.'
12. Install a room divider for privacy and extra storage
If you're living in an open plan space or studio, a room divider can be a game-changing piece of furniture that offers privacy, storage and a way to zone the space.
The home above by Daman Liss Design, included in the 1st Dibs 50 hotlist, shows just how versatile a room divider can be, with ample storage and a rotating center so you can watch TV when you're in the living room or in bed.
You can also opt for a room divider on wheels so you can open up the space if needed.
Jen and Mar, co-founders of Interior Fox, say: 'A room divider gives the feeling of privacy, and is light enough to move out of the way when you want to open up the room.'
13. Invest in multifunctional furniture for the living room too
Storage is often at a premium in bijou boltholes, so multifunctional furniture is a good apartment storage idea for any room.
'When designing a space, especially those in a studio apartment or spaces with compact configuration, it’s important to really think about the function as well as the form of the room and each piece of furniture,' advises Mark McDonnell, Head of Design, David Phillips.
'In a living room for example, choose multi-functional pieces that not only look good but also serve a purpose.'
An ottoman footstool is a great place to start, but you can also get storage space in your sofa, with an ottoman chaise.
Jen & Mar, Co-Founders of Interior Fox, suggest: 'Maximize space in a compact living room by first considering investing in multifunctional furniture.
'An ottoman footstool is a perfect small apartment living room idea and is a great place to start. It works as additional seating for when guests visit, creates extra storage, and best of all, a place to put up your feet at the end of a long day.'
14. Embrace curves in every room
Curved sofas and furniture are completely de rigueur thanks to a shift in turning our homes into restorative sanctuaries where we can truly relax.
But it's not just the cocooning effect that's appealing - curved sofas, armchairs and coffee tables are ideal as small apartment furniture ideas as they take away hard visual lines and fit more easily into a petite space.
Similarly, round or oval dining tables are perfect for open plan small apartments or studio apartment ideas.
They're an ultra-sociable way to entertain, allowing more people to budge up and gather round, as well as being compact space-savers.
And, if you're looking to invest in a truly timeless piece, the Saarinen Tulip Table is a stunning piece that will never date.
15. Consider bunk beds for a guest room or shared kids' bedroom
Bunk beds are an obvious choice for sharing kids room ideas, but they can be a practical – and stylish – option for a small guest room, too.
If you're a regular host and want to be able to offer accommodation to friends, it's an easy way to fit more people in.
Louise Wicksteed, design director at Sims Hilditch, says: 'Bunk beds can be a great option. Storage can be in-built underneath the base of the lower bunk, or even hidden beneath the steps.'
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Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.
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