"Less is more" is a time-honored design mantra, and anyone who's ever staged a house for the market can tell you that having less furniture in a space will make it feel much bigger. But this can be easy to forget when you're living in a small apartment. The temptation is to think of a small apartment just as you would a bigger place, and cram in the same amount of stuff by just putting it closer together — which will just make your apartment feel uncomfortably cramped. Here's a little inspiration, and a little advice, for embracing minimalism in even the smallest of spaces.
1. Determine what you don't need.
Some pieces of furniture which we think of as essentials for any home may actually be things that you don't need at all. Before you bring anything into your home, take some time to ask yourself not where it will go, but what it will do. If you can't explain exactly how you will use a particular piece, you probably don't need it.
Real life example: This living room from Desire to Inspire does without a lot of "essentials" — no coffee table, no rug, no art behind the couch. The result is a minimalist effect that makes the room feel larger than it is. And this post's lead image — from the March 2009 issue of old-school Domino (via My Domaine) — is the interior that inspired me to write this post. The sense of restraint here is admirable. Even the piled-up magazines in the corner can't keep this Manhattan living room from feeling impossibly calm and spacious.
2. Downsize your furniture.
Once you've decided which pieces you can't live without, consider seeking out (if you have the option of buying new furniture) smaller versions of those things. Depending on how you use your living room, a two-seater sofa may serve you just as well as a full-sized one. If most of your work is on your computer, a wall-mounted desk can stand in for a full-sized one. And there's scale to be considered too. Counterintuitively, a single oversize piece can actually help a room to feel larger — but you definitely don't want everything in your room to be oversize.
Real life example: Smaller-scaled pieces help this living room from Inside Closet feel spacious.
3. Hide your storage.
You've seen all these photos now, and you are probably thinking — but where is all their stuff? Downsizing possessions is an important part of small space living, but you can't downsize everything. The secret is having storage that isn't in plain view. Open shelves and piles of possessions clutter up a space, but there are ways to hide things away to get that minimalist look even in a smaller apartment. Here are seven hidden storage solutions that can work for the smallest of spaces.
Real life example: Is the skirted sofa in this living room from Elle Decoration concealing a bunch of storage boxes? We'll never know — and that's kind of the point.