(There is so much to say on this topic that I split the post in 2 parts)
I remember when I moved into a relatively small apartment and was faced with the challenge of making it feel like home. I wanted to make the place seem bigger and brighter without making any structural transformations. Usually, it is difficult to make major structural improvements if it is a rented property. You just have to work with what you have and following some basic guidelines, throughout the process of decorating, will help you.
In my opinion, simplicity should be your motto if you have limited experience in home design. This does not mean plain or boring but instead, simplicity can be seen, in this case, as a way forward. There are many ways to take a bit of risk and add bold ideas through accessories and accent details but ground rules must be considered. Also, working on a small place is an excellent learning opportunity to master basic but essential rules of interior design. After this experience, you will be comfortable decorating a bigger space if you upgrade. Photos: www.bestdesignideas.com
1/ The process can’t be rushed: Consider the process of decorating your place a creative one, where the end result is a balanced, aesthetic reflection of who you are, your taste and your personality while practical solutions for modern standards of living are also carefully considered. There is a lot to think about with many elements to juggle, so bringing a creative vision to life is not something that can be turned around in a blink of an eye (Even if there are the financial means to do so). A rushed process might not do your vision justice and one thing none of us can afford are expensive mistakes/eyesores. Having said that, when you first move to a new place, the first thing you urgently need is a bed and that’s fine. However, before buying a bed, you should do/check the following: locate the area where you want to place the bed, measure it and think about the right bed size for the space available: king, queen, super-king? Height of the bed-frame is important too. For example, a bed that is too high in a room with low ceiling, might feel claustrophobic. Walkways at the end of the bed-frame should be between 80cm-100cm. The same applies for the space on either side of the bed.
2/ Define the interior design style you like: Is it Scandinavian, Industrial, Japanese, Contemporary, French, Modern farmhouse, English cottage, Mid-century? Or a mix of 2 or 3 styles? Social media is your best friend. I personally think that if you don’t want to go too technical, you can use platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. They hold so much information with really good examples and inspiration of all sorts of interior design styles. From my own experience, Scandinavian is one of the easiest styles to integrate in small spaces as furniture lines, shapes and styles are never too bulky so they will easily match different spaces. Plus, there are many budget-friendly stores, specialized in the Scandi style, that offer decent quality products (Yes Ikea). Photos: www.home-designing.com
3/ Work on a clean white canvas: Unless you have experience in interior design, it is usually hard to create a vision board in a place where previous tenants/owners left their mark with a questionable choice of wall colors and wallpapers. I think it is worth taking the time to strip back anything that you don’t want and repaint all walls in simple white. Painting: anyone can do it. If I can, I am sure you can too. I had never held a brush or a roller until a few months ago. Actually, that was one of the most satisfying tasks I did in our house. It doesn’t cost much and it sets the base for making the changes you need to.
4/ Measure the space you have: This is a key step in the overall process. No decision can be made and no piece of furniture or even a picture frame should be purchased without having previously taken precise sizes of the whole apartment. A simple tape measure is enough. When measuring a room consider the following: floor area, height of walls, walkways, windows, doors and wall space around doors and windows. You can just keep your notes with you at all times, because if you come across items you like online or in a store, you will have the possibility to double-check whether their size fits the measurements you took.
5/ Create defined zones within your place: You should be clear about your and your family’s habits and behavior within a space: where do you sleep? work? dine? watch TV? entertain? Sometimes you need to combine activities within a zone when you have limited space. Example: cook + work, dine + work, watch TV + work. And other times, you have to compromise and optimize the limited space you have by (for example) “killing” TV (I did) and just use your computer/tablet to watch Netflix. I think it is important to keep in mind that space should never feel cramped, cluttered, overloaded and walkways reduced. Photos: www.apartmenttherapy.com
This is it for the time being… I am currently writing the second part of this post where I list down the remaining guidelines to follow. I will publish it in a week!
I hope you liked this post!