Life in Small Spaces: How to Adjust to City Living

Small Living City Apt
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Sometimes life puts you in situations where you need to make a change.

Whether it’s a new job, a long commute or just a desire to try something newchances are things will be different. This is especially true when you transition from a large, open, suburban home to an apartment in the heart of a city. You no longer have a yard or garage, let alone a finished basement and extra rooms in your house. Now, your home becomes your small apartment and the thriving city that surrounds it.

The transition in square footage can be impossible to fathom, but it is possible. It can even be exciting. We want you to thrive in your changes, which is why we’ve put together our favorite pieces of advice on how to adjust to city living.

Work with Illusions

One of the hardest parts about moving into a city apartment is the fact that what you see is what you get. You aren’t able to do any major home renovations, and it’s close to impossible to increase the square footage – unless, of course, you choose a different apartment all together. We’ve heard a lot of people say that they could never move into a city apartment because they’d feel too claustrophobic or, in a way, stuck. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

For instance, have you ever been stumped by an optical illusion? One of those puzzles you stare at for hours, but just can’t figure out what is happening or how it can be true. Well, you can do the same with your small living space. That’s one of the beautiful things about the human mind… it can be tricked. In regards to apartments or small living spaces in general, you can adjust a few things so that your mind thinks that you actually have more room than you do.

Decorate with Light Colors

One of the biggest things you can do is give your apartment a makeover using light colors. Everyone’s heard of this trick, but why is it so effective?

Well, it’s basic science. Dark colors absorb light and light colors reflect it. Therefore, when you use light colors in your home, it becomes more reflective and thus creates the illusion of a larger and more open space. It also allows more natural light to be reflected into your home, which creates an almost airy feel. White is always a great option, but think about choosing an off-white color so you can add a bit of character to your home and diffuse the intensity. Some other great colors to choose from are light hues of blues, greens or generally soft tones. Some people also say that using bright, energetic colors makes the room feel larger and more alive. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Another pro-tip for painting is to paint the trim and moldings lighter than your walls, which makes it seem like your walls are farther back than they actually are.*

When you use light colors, you can choose an eye-popping color scheme for accents around your home. Think furniture, blankets, throw pillows, rugs, lamps or even plants! In fact, having living plants in your apartment can make you feel more like you’re outside, which can help minimize the feeling of being cramped.

Lighting is Everything

In addition to using light, bright colors, we want to stress the importance of lighting. It is a key element when you want to make a room feel open and more inviting. When you allow natural light to fill a room, it makes everything look and feel larger. We recommend leaving your windows uncovered, or using a sheer, or white, curtain.

Unfortunately, depending on where you’re living and the circumstances of your apartment, natural light isn’t always an option. If you’re stuck in this situation, it’s time to get creative. The use of a few lighting fixtures can help tremendously. We recommend straying away from overhead lighting that is usually in apartments, as they are often dull and tend to illuminate the room unevenly. Opt for a few smaller lamps in order to spread light across the entire room while creating focal points.

Use Mirrors

Remember how we mentioned that the more reflective a color is, the bigger your room will feel? Well, what’s the most reflective thing you can think of? Mirrors! They are wonderful things. When you strategically place them around your apartment, they have the ability to add the illusion of depth and size. Since they also reflect light, they aid in any lighting problems you may have by bouncing it further into a room. We recommend placing mirrors near any windows you have as well as utilizing them on multiple walls or even tabletops.

Furniture Options

Another huge thing to consider is furniture. It takes up the majority of space in any home and can either make or break a room. One thing that we recommend is investing in some great, multi-functional furniture. When you have a simple coffee table, you are wasting space. Consider one that has drawers underneath or one that opens up to reveal a hidden layer of storage gold. The same goes for any side tables, ottomans or even beds. When you utilize space that furniture offers, you help decrease clutter and stay organized, which is crucial to maximizing your space.

Furniture placement is also crucial. Placing things directly against a wall makes a room feel cramped. Try placing things even just a few inches from the walls to maximize space. Also, aim to buy furniture that actually fits your apartment rather than stuffing in anything from the move. When it comes to choosing a sofa, we recommend buying one piece that fills the room. When you have multiple small sofas or couches you decrease the usability of your room and make it feel smaller.

Finally, opt for furniture that has open arms and exposed legs.* This allows the space to breathe and makes the room appear larger.

Buy a Rug

If you’ve never been a “rug person” then we recommend changing that. Rugs can be extremely useful in small apartments. They can help to separate and differentiate small spaces where there are no walls. They can also help add a pop of color to your apartment. However, the biggest benefit of rugs is that they can cover up unsightly floors. This is especially important if you don’t have the ability to do any renovations.

Stay Organized

One of the best things that you can do to make your small space feel larger is to stay organized. Clutter gives off a feeling of chaos and makes a room feel cramped. All it does is decrease the size of any given room. However, when you organize things well, you will create more space to live. Plus, when things are out of sight, your room continues to reflect more light and again, increases the feeling of space. Some of our best tips for staying organized include:

  • Have a place for everything. Get in the habit of putting things back where they go when you’re done using them so you don’t let your living space get out of hand.
  • Opt for less. If you aren’t currently wearing all of the clothes in your closet, store some of them in a place that can’t be seen or in a storage unit. When you have a messy closet, it is hard to keep your room clean.
  • Embrace clever storage solutions. Under the bed, multi-functional pieces of furniture, ceiling-high cabinets, etc.
  • Consider removing doors. One of the things that can create space that feels cramped is an excessive amount of doors. When you remove a door from a closet or pantry, you remove the floor space needed to open the door. Instead, replace it with an extendable curtain rod and some eye-popping curtains.
  • If you need more ideas for clever storage, check out this article.

Enjoy the City

If you are moving from a large house in the suburbs into an apartment in the city, one way to adjust to your new life is by enjoying the city around you! Big cities, or even small ones, have so much to offer. There are parks, cafes and tons of public hang out spots. Get out and enjoy what it has to offer. It will give you some time away from your apartment, which only makes you appreciate it more when you come home.

Rent a Storage Unit

At the end of the day, we know that it will be hard to downsize. This is especially true for larger families or those coming from a place with a much higher square footage. If you aren’t ready to part with all of your things, or aren’t sure if the move will be permanent, we recommend renting a storage unit. You can safely store things you don’t currently need or refuse to part with rather than trying to stuff everything into your new place. This is extremely helpful for seasonal items and sentimental keepsakes.

At The Lock Up Self Storage, there are multitudes of options to fit everyone’s specific needs. All of the units are weatherproof, climate-controlled and affordable. Head over to to browse their options.