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An interior designer shares how to make my apartment feel bigger, cool – Insider

  • I live in a 2-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, and the space has a small bathroom and kitchen. 
  • An interior designer told me I should utilize vertical storage solutions since I have tall ceilings.
  • She also suggested I find more ways to hide clutter, like a bed with storage. 

I recently moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and my roommate and I have been brainstorming ways to make the small space feel more glamorous.

Our 1910 building is in a super convenient location for us and we love the 12-foot-high ceilings — but the bathroom and kitchen are notably tight spaces. We also haven’t finished buying furniture or decorating yet, so it’s somewhat of a blank canvas.

To learn how to best utilize the space in my apartment for the sake of functionality and aesthetics, I consulted Ohio-based interior designer Lisa M. Cini, president and CEO of Mosaic Design Studio.

After giving her a video tour and some reference photos, she shared advice on how to make the space look attractive and feel more spacious.

My living room feels pretty cluttered because we don’t have any closets 

a tv with big bags in front of it and a clothing rack next to it

Our living room is kind of serving as both of our closets right now.
Ariana DiValentino

The main area of my two-bedroom apartment is the living room. It’s just over 2,000 square feet and actually feels pretty spacious for a New York City apartment.

The stars of the living room are some pieces of vintage furniture that we stooped (got for free secondhand). I wish we could highlight them more, but our apartment doesn’t have any closets so this central area is cluttered with temporary storage solutions, like crates and Ikea bags. 

an olive green chaise couch surrounded by clutter with a glass coffee table in front of it

Pay no mind to the life-sized Timothée Chalamet cutout.
Ariana DiValentino

Currently, we have a lot of stuff living in boxes and piles around our small vintage couch.

One of Cini’s suggestions was to purchase a true Murphy bed that converts into a couch in order to add storage and help clear up the clutter. 

An apartment with a portable A/C unit in the window and small shelf between two large windows, one with orange curtains

We could add more shelves here to store our items.
Ariana DiValentino

The outside-facing wall of the living room has two large windows with our gold bar cart between them.

But the space above the cart is pretty empty so Cini said we should optimize it by adding some shelves or other wall storage. 

Between the doors to our bedrooms, we also have a wide vanity where my roommate and I like to get ready.

A small pale yellow vanity with a mirror covered in clutter in front of a plain white wall

The interior designer suggested adding shelves above this vintage piece.
Ariana DiValentino

Cini pointed out that there’s plenty of space above the vanity where we could install racks to hold accessories like scarves, belts, and jewelry.

As a solution to our lack of closets, Cini also advised us to take advantage of under-bed spaces for storage. 

“Ikea and Lowe’s have a lot of storage items, but thrift shops can also have great options,” she said. “You can repurpose it with some chalk paint to make everything match and look fresh while being hip and interesting.”

She suggested choosing functional storage containers with wheels so they can roll out easily.

Right now, my bedroom is all mattress

a small white bedroom with a queen size bed with wire metal bed frame and patterned sheets

I am not willing to compromise on the size of my bed.
Ariana DiValentino

A nice, big bed is important to me. The downside is that my queen-sized frame takes up the majority of the room, and I have to squeeze around the door or jump over the footboard to get into bed. 

For that reason, Cini suggested nixing the footboard altogether to avoid the way it awkwardly divides the room.

She said I could swap out my elaborate frame for inexpensive bed rails to hold the mattress without taking up so much space.

The room has a ton of vertical space, which has great potential but right now feels very empty. Cini’s advice is to install netting over the bed to make it feel “more purposeful and vacation-like.”

Our kitchen is pretty tiny and narrow 

As is typical of many Brooklyn apartments, our kitchen is really small. Between the stove, fridge, and counter, there’s just a sliver of floor space. 

my white fridge covered in magnets next to a photo of a blue stool with cat bowls under it next to a plain white stove

We could add more storage solutions to the kitchen.
Ariana DiValentino

Like the rest of our apartment, though, the ceilings are nice and high. 

“Take advantage of the vertical space by adding upper cabinets above the existing upper cabinets to store items you don’t use often,” Cini suggested.

I also have two cats, and right now their bowls are just sitting under a stool by the stove.

To clear this clutter and add storage, Cini suggested we buy a cabinet that has a pull-out at the bottom. That way, I’ll be able to slide the cat bowls out of sight between mealtimes. 

my white stove with a broom in the middle across from light brow ncabinets next to a photo of my brown cabinets and white countertop with appliances on top

The designer suggested we have our broom hung up so it’s out of the way.
Ariana DiValentino

Another way she suggested we organize the kitchen and make better use of the space is to get wall mounts for our mop and broom so they’re not just precariously leaning against the wall.

Additionally, mounting a spice rack on the wall by the stove would be convenient for cooking and a good way to clear up more counter space. 

Finally, she said, we could create the illusion of having a bigger space if we paint the cabinets white. 

The bathroom is very, very narrow

Our bathroom layout is pretty unique — it’s a long, narrow space with the tub on one end and the toilet and sink on the other.

Again, Cini suggested we add mounted wall storage to help the space feel less tight and take advantage of our high ceilings. 

a citrus print shower curtrain in frot of a white tub next to a all-white tiled bathroom with a toilet, catl itter box and sink

Cini marked where it might be best to add storage.
Ariana DiValentino

There’s a good deal of room between the toilet tank and the shelf several feet above it so she proposed putting another storage solution in that space to hold our hair care and hygiene products. 

Currently, there’s a medicine cabinet over the bathroom sink, but it’s pretty small and honestly not in great condition. Lisa suggested swapping it out for a bigger mirror that goes all the way down to the sink faucet. Not only would a bigger mirror be great for getting ready, but also it would help expand the space.

The last suggestion Cini had for our bathroom pertained to design. As of now, there’s simple tiling that stops about halfway up the wall.

Instead, she said, we should consider installing vertical linear tile that goes from the floor to the ceiling. This can draw the eyes upward to make the room feel bigger. 

Overall, I learned that vertical storage is the key to utilizing this space and clearing clutter

Although some of these suggested changes might have to be approved by my landlord or completed with renter-friendly alternatives, I already have a few projects in mind to beautify our apartment.

Above all, my biggest takeaway from the critique is that I should invest in clever storage solutions.

Putting things on the walls, rather than on the floor or stuffed in corners, will make tight areas feel more breathable and help fill some of this extensive, empty white wall space.

Good storage spaces will improve the apartment aesthetically, but also bolster its functionality and make it easier for us to get around and find things when we need them. 

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