Clever Renter-Friendly Decor Advice from a Small Space Pro

published Oct 26, 2018
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(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

Artist Alina Fassakhova, her husband Artem, and their cat, Usha, live in an NYC apartment filled with plant life, artwork, and three different wall colors. And they do it all quite beautifully in only 400 square feet AND as renters. Not only have they made their home look and feel much larger than it is, but they’ve found ways to design around the things they can’t change… and make huge visual impacts in the ways they can.

(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

Below, Alina shares some of her practical tips for decorating a small rental apartment:

(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

Go dark

“I’m convinced that dark wall paint works better than white for a small space. By absorbing the light, gray walls are less clearly marked and can give an illusion of a deep and spacious room.”

In the bedroom and living room is the gray “Gotham” by Benjamin Moore. “Coachman’s Cape” by Benjamin Moore is the other gray in the living room.

(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

Let gray tame wood tones

“We couldn’t sand down or repaint orange-y floors and trims as it’s a rental apartment, but orange color strikes the eye much less on a gray wall background.”

(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

Create the illusion of larger windows

“Our ceiling is very tall and the windows seem too small against it. Beige roman shades that were installed pretty high above the windows create an illusion of taller and larger windows.”

These roman shades from Walmart are similar to the ones in their apartment.

(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

Add a little marble

“White marble on the desk reflects lots of light from the window and the room looks brighter.”

Alina has the dahlia marble desk from CB2 in her apartment. But you don’t have to buy such a large or pricey marble item to still benefit from the material’s light reflecting characteristics → 9 Marble Finds for Every Room of the House

(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

Hang mirrors in the sunny spots

“Our windows face northwest, which means bright sunlight only in the afternoon during summer and no direct sunlight in winter at all. Luckily mirrors that are placed properly can help to reflect a generous portion of light and illuminate a room. If you have the same lack of light problem, I’d recommend finding the sunniest spot in your home and hanging a large mirror right there.”

In Alina’s apartment, they used several of CB2’s perspective wall mirror to reflect light around their small living room. Find a mirror to reflect light in your small space → Our Favorite Mirrors for Every Space in Your Home

(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

See all of her smart small space ideas → A Creative Spirit Fills Her Home with Plants and Art