Feature Story

Brilliant space-saving ideas for apartment living

Your new apartment is everything you dreamed of – but just where are you going to fit everything?

Three experts offer their best space-saving advice and tips.

Let’s face it: an apartment is unlikely to have the same storage capacity as a house with a double garage and shed. That presents some challenges, particularly for those downsizing from a large family house in the suburbs to apartment living in the city. So, whether you’re a downsizer or simply someone with a lot of stuff, these five expert tips will give you plenty of room to breathe.

Edit, edit, edit

Moving into new digs presents the perfect opportunity to undertake a ruthless edit of your belongings. “Now is the time to let go of things that you have been holding on to for any number of reasons,” says stylist and professional organiser Sarah Shanahan. “Once the purging has been done, you can be happy in the knowledge that the things you are taking are really loved. Your possessions need to spark some sort of joy to make it to the next address.” Stylist Carmen Parker agrees: “Decluttering is the key to a smooth transition into a smaller space.”

Made to measure

It’s absolutely essential that you measure every room in your new apartment before you move in. “That way, you will have a much clearer idea of what you can take with you and what needs to be sold before you move,” says Parker. Bulky oversized furniture is unlikely to be a good fit for a smaller space. “Really choose your furniture items wisely,” Parker advises. “Whatever your style, bring only what fits and don’t crowd your new apartment with big items or too many pieces.”

Double duty

When moving into a smaller home, it’s important that you consider furniture items that serve more than one purpose. “For example,” says Parker, “a wall unit, built for storage, could also house a small desk space and the television. An ottoman with a removable top could be additional storage and could also serve as a coffee table.” Shanahan suggests bench seating with under-seat storage to stow bulky seasonal items such as blankets, quilts and beach towels.

Seek the light

Colour choice is paramount. Experts advise using a light, neutral base for small spaces, choosing larger pieces of furniture (rugs, couches) in similar colour tones, then adding pops of colour through smaller accessories. “This will create a cohesive look without it feeling overwhelming or claustrophobic,” says Parker. “Layers of texture in the same colour is a beautiful way to bring interest to a small space without making it busy.” Resene Paints Australia colour consultant Nikki Morris suggests using paint colours with a high light reflectance value (LRV), which can help reflect and bounce natural light around a room and give it the illusion of being brighter and more spacious.

Short and sweet

Finally, a few quick tips…

  • Decorative hooks that complement the style of the house add character and double as storage
  • Baskets and stylish boxes are great storage options and add to your home’s decor and warmth
  • Consider gallery walls to display family photos rather than cluttering a space with photo frames; choose similar frames for a calm, unified look
  • Use the height of the walls rather than the floor space … so, a tallboy over a shorter chest of drawers, bookshelves that go to the ceiling. “Vertical lines elongate the room and give the illusion of height and space,” says Parker


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