Small Condo Decorating Ideas
Tiny but Trendy: How to Transform Your Small Condo or Apartment into a Stylish Oasis
By Interior Designer Tracy Svendsen | Published October 31, 2018 | Updated December 27, 2023
Are you the proud owner of a small condo? With some creativity and clever design tricks, you can transform your tiny condo into a trendy oasis that is an absolute joy to live in. This article covers ways to maximize your space, choose the right furniture and decor, and add a touch of personality to make your small condo feel like a luxurious retreat.
From utilizing smart storage solutions to creating the illusion of space with mirrors and lighting, you will discover many tips and ideas to make the most of your compact living quarters. Don’t let the size of your condo hold you back from showcasing your unique style and creating a functional and fashionable home.
My Recent Small Condo Remodel
I recently completed a small condo project for a fabulous, vibrant, and energetic 80-year-old woman (my mother) who wanted to downsize from her large home and eliminate the need to use stairs. She also wanted to be able to walk rather than drive for shopping excursions, frequenting restaurants, and hiking with friends.
My mom purchased a small two-bedroom condo with a flex space for a workout area with her Peleton bike. The remodel included replacing kitchen cabinets, hardwood flooring, and a fresh coat of paint throughout. We also updated two bathrooms, primary and guest bedroom.
She wanted a neutral and modern interior and wanted to incorporate a gallery wall. There was also a space issue to address, as there wasn’t adequate room for a dining area. This would provide the perfect opportunity to create a contemporary and elegant banquette with the artwork above.
The area for the banquette is 5′-1″, so we opted for a custom-made bench seat with a plush cushion on top. The bench has an open lid that provides extra and much-needed storage space.
Plenty of pillows were piled on the bench to add pattern and texture that would tie the living room to the dining area. The bench would rarely be used, so its purpose was to add visual interest with occasional functionality.
Gallery Wall Design
After getting a feel for what type of artwork my mother was drawn to, I presented the initial concept (image above) for feedback. She loved where the design was heading, so I started by selecting prints that could be included in their gallery wall.
Although the wall area was suitable for approximately six images, I selected nine images to allow her to bring more color into the space if she wanted. As the collection works well together, she could display some prints in other areas of her home.
A gallery wall instantly adds a sense of style and sophistication to a home. It provides the ability to create a flexible and customizable narrative that can be added to and improved over time. This is a long process, as once the prints were ordered and shipped, they had to be brought in for custom framing. We chose a variety of frames for added interest. If you want to view a step-by-step process of designing a gallery wall, I wrote an article on it a few months ago: How to Create a Gallery Wall.
Design Principles for Small Spaces
When designing a small condo, a few key principles must be implemented. First and foremost, prioritize functionality. Every piece of furniture and decor should serve a purpose and contribute to the overall flow and usability of the space. Avoid clutter and opt for clean lines and minimalistic designs.
Next, consider the concept of visual space. Utilizing design elements that create the illusion of space can make your small condo feel larger and more open. Mirrors, for example, can reflect light and give the impression of a larger room. Additionally, choosing light colors for walls and furniture can create an airy and spacious feel.
Lastly, remember the importance of scale and proportion. Choose furniture and decor that is appropriately sized for your small condo. Oversized pieces can overwhelm the space and make it feel cramped, while small, delicate items can get lost and make the space feel cluttered. Finding balance creates a harmonious and visually appealing environment.
Adding Personality and Style to a Small Condo
Even if your condo is small, it can still be full of personality and style. In fact, a small space can be the perfect canvas for showcasing your unique taste and creativity. Here are a few ideas to help you add personality and style to your small condo:
1. Choose a color palette that reflects your personality: Whether you prefer bold and vibrant colors or soft and neutral tones, choose a color palette that resonates with your style. Use these colors on your walls, furniture, and decor to create a cohesive and visually appealing space.
2. Display meaningful artwork and decor: Fill your small condo with artwork, photographs, and decor items with special meaning. These personal touches will add character to your space and make it feel like home.
3. Incorporate plants and greenery: Bring the outdoors in by incorporating plants and greenery into your small condo. Not only do plants add a touch of nature and freshness, but they also have air-purifying properties and can improve the overall ambiance of your space.
4. Mix patterns and textures: Feel free to mix patterns and textures in your small condo. Layering different fabrics, materials, and prints can add depth and visual interest to your space. Keep the color palette cohesive to avoid overwhelming the room.
5. Embrace minimalism: In a small condo, less is often more. Embrace a minimalist approach to design and decor, focusing on quality over quantity. Keep your space clutter-free, and choose furniture and decor items with clean lines and simple designs.
Maximizing Storage in a Small Apartment or Condo
Finding enough storage space is one of the biggest challenges of living in a small condo. However, you can make the most of every nook and cranny with creative thinking and smart solutions. Here are a few ideas to help you maximize storage in your small condo:
1. Utilize vertical space: Install shelves or wall-mounted cabinets to use unused vertical space. This will free up valuable floor space and provide additional storage for books, decor, and other items.
2. Invest in multi-functional furniture: Look for furniture that serves multiple purposes, such as a coffee table with built-in storage or a bed with drawers underneath. This will help you make the most of your limited space.
3. Use storage ottomans: Ottomans with hidden storage are a great way to add extra seating and hide away items like blankets, pillows, and magazines.
4. Think outside the box: Look for unconventional storage solutions, such as hanging organizers on the back of doors, utilizing the space under your bed, or using tension rods to create additional hanging space in closets.
Choosing Furniture for Small Spaces
When selecting furniture for your small condo, it’s important to choose stylish but also practical and space-saving pieces. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choices:
1. Opt for multi-purpose furniture: Look for items that serve multiple functions. For example, a sofa bed can double as a guest bed, and a dining table with collapsible sides can be expanded and easily tucked away when not in use.
2. Consider furniture with built-in storage: Look for coffee tables, ottomans, and TV stands with hidden storage compartments. These pieces will help you keep your space organized while providing additional storage for your belongings.
3. Choose lightweight and compact furniture: Avoid bulky and heavy furniture that can make your small condo feel cramped. Opt for lightweight, compact pieces that can be easily moved around to create a more flexible living space.
4. Prioritize comfort: While choosing furniture that is space-saving is important, remember comfort. Look for pieces that are ergonomically designed and provide adequate support. After all, you want to create a stylish oasis that is also cozy and inviting.
Creative Space-Saving Solutions
In a small condo, every square inch counts. That’s why it’s essential to get creative with your space-saving solutions. Here are a few ideas to help you maximize your living area:
1. Use floating shelves: Floating shelves provide additional storage space and create a visually appealing display for your books, plants, and decorative items. Install them on empty walls or above furniture to use vertical space.
2. Hang curtains strategically: Hanging curtains higher and wider than your windows can create the illusion of larger windows and make your small condo feel more spacious.
3. Install a wall-mounted desk: If you need a workspace but don’t have room for a traditional desk, consider installing a wall-mounted desk that can be folded up when not in use.
4. Opt for sliding doors: Swinging doors can occupy valuable floor space, especially in small condos. Consider replacing them with sliding doors to create a more open and functional living area.
5. Use modular furniture: Modular furniture allows you to customize and rearrange your living space. Look for modular sofas, shelving units, and storage systems that can be easily reconfigured to suit your changing needs.
Small Condo Decorating Ideas & Lighting
Lighting is crucial in creating the illusion of space in a small condo. Proper lighting techniques make your living area feel brighter, more spacious, and more inviting. Here are a few tips to help you light up your small condo:
1. Maximize natural light: Take advantage of natural light by keeping your windows free of heavy curtains or blinds. Opt for sheer curtains or light-filtering shades, allowing sunlight to flood your space.
2. Use mirrors strategically: Mirrors are a great way to reflect light and create the illusion of a larger room. Place mirrors opposite windows or in areas that lack natural light to bounce light around the room and make it feel more open.
3. Layer your lighting: Instead of relying on a single overhead light, use a combination of task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting to create depth and dimension in your small condo. Task lighting can be used for specific activities, such as reading or cooking, while ambient lighting provides illumination. Accent lighting, such as wall sconces or table lamps, can highlight architectural features or create a cozy atmosphere.
4. Opt for space-saving lighting fixtures: In a small condo, floor space is precious. Choose lighting fixtures mounted on walls or ceilings to save space. Wall sconces, pendant lights, and recessed lighting are all great options for small spaces.
Mistakes to Avoid
While it’s important to know what to do when decorating a small condo, it’s equally important to know what not to do. Here are a few common decorating mistakes to avoid:
1. Overcrowding the space: Resist the temptation of filling every inch of your condo with furniture and decor. Overcrowding the space can make it feel cramped and claustrophobic. Instead, choose a few key pieces and allow plenty of open space to create a more open and inviting atmosphere.
2. Ignoring scale and proportion: Choosing furniture that is too big or too small for your small condo can throw off the balance of the space. Be mindful of scale and proportion when selecting furniture and decor items to ensure a harmonious and visually pleasing environment.
3. Neglecting functionality: While style is important, don’t sacrifice functionality for aesthetics. Ensure that every piece of furniture and decor serves a purpose and contributes to the overall functionality of your small condo.
4. Using dark colors: Dark colors can make a small space feel even smaller and more oppressive. Opt for light and neutral colors on your walls and furniture to create a bright and airy feel.
If you’re craving color, use it as an accent through pillows, artwork, or small decor items. This way, you can still inject personality into your space without overwhelming it with dark hues.
5. Clutter and lack of organization: Keeping a small condo organized is essential to maintaining a stylish and inviting space. Avoid clutter by regularly decluttering and organizing your belongings. Use storage solutions to keep everything in its place and out of sight.
By avoiding these common decorating mistakes, you can ensure that your small condo remains a stylish oasis that feels open, organized, and inviting.
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