The secret to styling a small apartment on a budget

With housing prices – as well as our consumption of smashed avo – unlikely to diminish anytime soon, many Australians are having to forego backyard pools in exchange for car stackers.

Small apartments may be closer to public transport and demand lower rent, but one of their most obvious shortcomings is space. Perhaps the biggest mistake people make when decorating their single bedroom dwelling is assuming that the sole focus should be practicality. After all, when you are tight on space (and budget), why would you bother with aesthetics?

No matter how small your apartment is, it can still offer irresistible warmth and style – if you know how to furnish it, that is.

It’s all about balance.

The perfectly furnished space is one that juggles functionality with style – highlighting your personality as well as providing a comfortable living for your current needs.


Haim Shoe Rack



  • Create zones

Now, you might think that open plan living is the only way to go with a small apartment; compartmentalisation is the Achilles heel of many older builds, and modern living is all about continuity and open spaces. However, leaving everything open without setting visual boundaries can actually be detrimental to a small space. A lack of defined spaces or “zones” will leave this type of dwelling feeling cramped and messy – the exact effect you are trying to avoid.

The trick here is not to put up solid barriers like walls – rather define separate areas and their purpose through the placement of furniture and décor. The elegant curves of the Haim shoe rack can help round off your entryway while providing a sleek solution to your shoe storage needs. A Himmat wool rug under the dining table will define the dining area without completely separating the space from the rest of the room.

Himmat Wool Rug 240 x 300cm

  • Choose multi-purpose furniture

When decorating a small apartment, every bit of floor space counts. You can’t afford to have a fancy display cabinet whose sole purpose is to show off fancy tableware or a collection of babushka dolls. Each piece of furniture needs to marry storage and functionality with good looks. The Isabella gas lift Queen size bed frame will fill your bedroom with elegant panelling while sneaking in generous storage into its base.

Another option is to go vertical with your storage – the Lang medium wall unit paired with on trend storage boxes can show off family photos and favourite books as well as hide anything you don’t want on display.

Isabella Gas Lift Queen Size Bed Frame

  • Go big

A common misconception is that small spaces equal small furniture. While it is true that overly large and bulky furniture can make a small apartment look even tinier and more cramped than it already is, a large statement sofa bed – such as the Siesta 3 seater – will actually create the illusion of more space. Small furniture – and lots of it – can have the opposite effect, adding a sense of clutter. In this case, less is more!

Opt for designs that incorporate curves and floating elements; this will give you the comfort and style of a plush sofa without the loss of precious space. You might be hesitant to draw attention to tiny nooks and corners, but statement pieces like bold wall art can really make them stand out (in a good way!). The key here is obviously not to go so big as to render the space impractical – if you can’t open the door because the sofa is blocking the entrance, it’s probably not a good fit.

Siesta 3 Seater Sofa Bed

  • Keep it neutral (with a splash of colour)

It’s no secret that dark colours can make a space seem smaller – something an apartment lacking in square meterage definitely doesn’t need!  Avoid the temptation of using a moody colour palette and focus on lighter shades instead; this will give your interior a bright and airy feel without looking bland or boring.

Once the stage is set with neutrals, feel free to add small pops of colour to inject personality into the space. Use brightly patterned cushions, throws and coffee table vignettes – you can even go bold with your sofa colour choice.

Lang Medium Wall Unit

  • Utilise light and mirrors

Flooding a small apartment with light can really help it shine (pardon the pun). While natural light combined with lamps – such as the Leo arc floor lamp – will breathe life into a confined interior, an artificial light placed at the wrong angle can create unflattering shadows, making the space seem smaller.

One of the oldest tricks in the styling book, mirrors are an easy way to instantly open up a small apartment. The reflective surface not adds visual depth, but also increases the amount of light in the room. Wall mirrors are the perfect antidote to an awkward corner as they eliminate the cramped feel and flood the area with much needed light.

Wall mirrors are not the only way to add light; metallic furniture can also work wonders in making a room feel airier – the Haim shoe rack mentioned earlier is a perfect example of functional, stunning furniture that also creates an illusion of space.  

Leo Arc Floor Lamp

  • Keep it clean

Creating the illusion of space in a small apartment extends to more than just smart furniture placement and colour choices. While larger homes are more forgiving to throws and books being left out, studios and one bedders do not come with that luxury.

Tight spaces draw attention to clutter because there is nowhere for it to hide – maintaining a healthy cleaning and de-cluttering routine is imperative. Spring cleans aren’t just reserved for spring, so if a couple of impulse buys have left your couch inundated with cushions, take the time to cut down – it will not only help your residence look and feel spacious again, but also let you bring in the season’s fresh styling.

Small apartment living doesn’t mean that you have to forego stylish design for the sake of functionality – it’s all about striking the perfect balance between the two to create your perfect space.


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