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Decorating a New York Apartment

May 3rd, 2011 |  Published in Apartments, Living in New York, Shopping  |  1 Comment
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Apartment Decor

You’ve just moved in to a great new place and you’re ready to make it feel like home.  But this can be hard to do if you have a grand total of 500 square feet to work with, which is often the case with New York City apartments.  Here are a few tips that I got from my roommate’s mom (who’s an interior decorator) that really helped us maximize our space and make it feel like our own.

  1. Segment the space into “rooms” or areas and then decorate that space as it were an entire room.  For example, we have an open, rectangle room (not much larger than 400 square feet) that we’ve divided up into 4 areas: TV/couch room, Office, Bar, and Dining.  This makes the space feel larger, or at least more functional, and helps us decide how to arrange the furniture or decor.
  2. Create dividing lines with furniture. This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with the above tip.  In our “TV room”, we have an L-shaped couch that helps divide it from the “dining room” and other areas.
  3. Build vertically. Look for furniture and storage that uses more vertical space than horizontal space.  This will help conserve valuable space in your place for more uses.
  4. Use light colors. The lighter colors will make the place look bigger and brighter.  If you don’t have much choice of light colors for the furniture itself, see what accessories (pillows on a couch, place mats on a table, filing boxes on a shelf, curtains, etc) you can use to offset some of the darker items.
  5. Take advantage of accents and decoration. Using different accessories or decoration items can break-up a space to give it themes to match your designated “rooms”, make the place look more expensive, and even make it look bigger.  For example, a rug can help differentiate a “TV room” from a “dining room” and a mirror hung on a wall can make the area look bigger than it really is.

We purchased a lot of our items from IKEA because they’re modular, there’s variety, collections have a great selection of several pieces to mix and match, and they make furniture with small apartments in mind.  However, there are a few pieces that were more of an investment from other stores (like CB2, West Elm, flea markets, Urban Outfitters) that make the place feel unique and not an IKEA catalog.  The important thing is to pick what you like and make it your own.  Happy decorating!

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Cyndi Zaino

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About the author: Cyndi Zaino

Cyndi Zaino Cyndi joined "Become a New Yorker" in the fall of 2010 as a content contributor. She was born and raised in Long Island, NY and then moved down to the DC Metro area for a few years, only to come back to NYC to finish college and start her career. Some of her favorite things about the City are its diversity, variety of things to do, and unique places to eat. She is especially fond of its dirt, grime, and the fact that "it feels like a real city". Cyndi is hardcore and a level 80 Night Elf Druid.


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  • Diane

    Brilliant ideas! Haven’t thought about building vertically not until I came across this information. It would be really helpful and can make a bigger space to move.

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