Let’s face it, we don’t all live in our Pinterest dream homes or bedrooms, with high ceilings, windows on every wall, and hardwood floors. Especially as a young person the perfect space can feel unattainable.
I recently moved into a fourth floor walk up in lower Manhattan that is the exact opposite of everything I just described. It’s very small, dimly lit, and there is one tiny window in each room that all look onto a brick wall. And while I’ve thoroughly been enjoying the process of decorating it and making it feel like home, there’ve been a number of challenges in making in feel bright and open.
I want to share some of the things I’ve learned since moving into this apartment in my quest to make it feel as big and bright as possible, hopefully they can help some of you too.
And always remember it’s not just about finding the perfect house or apartment. It’s about what you do with it and creating your own perfect space with what you have. The things, people, and energy you bring into a space are what ultimately matter the most.
First let’s talk about lighting. Lighting is so important in any space but dark ones especially. If you’re not getting a lot of natural sunlight look into getting LED bulbs that mimic natural sunlight. Sunlight it naturally cool-toned so look for light bulbs anywhere from 4,000K to 5,500K. Having bright natural light in your home will give you more energy, boost your mood, and help you see more clearly.
No dark corners. This is a tip I learned a long time ago from a friend who’s an interior decorator. It ties into the first tip and is basically just making sure that every corner in your home is well-lit. This could be overhead lighting, a widow, spotlight or making sure to ad a table or floor lamp to ensure that every part of your home feels bright and welcoming.
If you’re suffering from small-window syndrome than mirrors are your anecdote. Anywhere you can put a mirror opposite your window to amplify and reflect the light coming in. It will fill more of the room with natural light and help the room feel bigger. The larger or the more mirrors you have means more light will get reflected and the brighter your room will be.
Another tip for working with small or minimal windows is to use sheer window coverings that will block out your nosey neighbors but still let light through, and avoid heavy thick fabric or dark colors that block out all the light. If you need these for night time then get a second layer of drapes underneath to use during the day.
Pale colors aren’t just important for window coverings, in a small dark space using a light color palette is crucial for opening up a room and making it feel bigger and brighter. Like mirrors, pale colors naturally amplify the light in the room. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t use any bright colors, they’re great for accent pieces and giving a room dimension. Just make sure they’re deep and saturated, not dark and dull.
One easy way to ad color in your rooms is with houseplants. Having plants and living things in your home is a great way to brighten up a room and make it feel alive and there are plenty of beautiful plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight and thrive in darker spaces.
Bringing the outdoors inside doesn’t have to stop with plants though. Incorporating nature into your decor through fabric, decorative objects, furniture, and texture are all great ways to breath new life into a room. In addition to plants I like to display rocks and shells I’ve collected from travels. I love geodes and use them as bookends and coasters.
In addition to natural objects, textures are important too. Too many smooth or shiny surfaces in a small space can make it feel very clinical and sterile so I try to break up my rooms with surfaces that feel and look different from each other. Using wood instead of plastic or a woven rug, textures window coverings, wall hangings, or picture frames are all easy additions that will ad some life and interest to your space.
I hope these tips were helpful and happy decorating!