11 Little Hacks That'll Make Your Apartment Feel Huge

Despite your best efforts, your home's become cluttered up over the years, resulting in a cramped feeling you can't seem to shake. But you-yes, you-can create a functional and personal space, thanks to Small Apartment Hacks author Jenna Mahoney's tweaks, each of which will make your house feel a little more mansion-like. By Julianne Adams, REDBOOK.

Have a vision
A surefire way to overcrowd a small space is by trying to do too much. "Avoid a hodgepodge of style, stuff, and furniture that just looks like an overcrowded mishmash," writes Mahoney. Instead, step back for a three-minute meditation to figure out exactly what you want. Then start taking notes, gathering images, and sketching out your space. Unsure of the right vibe? "When in doubt, go classic," Mahoney says. "Choose furniture with sleek, clean lines in neutral colors."

Make it yours
Once you've figured out the general direction you'd like your space to take, think about you. "Identify the three things that you love most-beauty products, baking cupcakes, reading first editions-and use them as anchors to your design aesthetic and organization," writes Mahoney. "Surfers, use your boards as design accents. … Fashionistas, use a wall as a gallery space for bags." This ensures your home will be functional and reflect your quirks.

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Ask three major questions
The keystone of Mahoney's book is the Three Q Rule. For every room and type of object, pose these questions that are designed to help you keep your small space chic and clutter-free.
1) What's its function?
2) How does it make me feel?
3) Would I save it in a fire?
So those fancy fabric napkins you've used once in 10 months? You'll survive without them.

Determine your must-haves
If there's one take away from Mahoney's witty manual, it's to stick to the basics: sleep, sit, and eat. "Every apartment needs to address these necessities to be called home," she writes. "All the other stuff is gravy." To quickly create a homey feel, Mahoney suggests focusing on a great sofa with comfy pillows, then adding in smaller items like personal photos and tablecloths.

Get your mess in order
It's nearly impossible to live a clutter-free life, so stop judging yourself and embrace your "bad" habit-within reason. "Avoid creating chaos by containing your procrastination to a landing strip," says Mahoney. This could be a basket in your bedroom or an entryway table. Just remember to clean it off weekly. Otherwise, things can easily get out of control.

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Fake it till you make it
"Not only do streamlined, vertical storage spaces de-clutter the floor, they also help your place look bigger," writes Mahoney, who advises investing in tall storage units. Another good option is to "create a single focal point behind the largest furniture in the room." Hang a large mirror, painting, or even a curtain behind the living room couch. Both of these tricks force the eye upward and create a sense of height. Mahoney also recommends painting the interior of bookcases the same color as the walls, which gives the illusion of a wider space.

Clear spaces

Given the limited size of your apartment, you may be tempted to have your living spaces overlap with each other. Mahoney suggests just the opposite, because, after all, the kitchen is the kitchen, not your office. Keep areas separated with furniture, rugs, or curtains. Doing so will make it feel like you have more room, as well as help keep you organized.

Find multitaskers
Double duty should be the name of the game in your apartment. Storage ottomans, shelved headboards, and expandable tables are classic examples. Pull a bookcase away from the wall to use it as a room divider, display sentimental items, or turn a shelf horizontal and toss on pillows for a storage bench. Seemingly dead space can also be transformed by adding a small curtain to a nightstand to stash more items and hide clutter. Mahoney recommends Danny Seo or Zara Home for stylish storage options.

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Let there be light
"The key to creating a bigger feel is creating optical illusions," writes Mahoney, who believes this is best achieved through adding light. Open your space up to natural sunlight, then use mirrors and reflective surfaces to make the light flow throughout the room and add depth. Overhead lighting and soft-lit floor lamps can help you do it, as can pink bulbs, which create a natural, soft glow.

Color me simple
Keeping the colors of your apartment neutral will create a less cluttered look and make it feel like there is more light. "Dark hues absorb light, thus making a room seem smaller," writes Mahoney. "Instead of going deep, choose creamy-infused neutral colors in cooler tones. In addition to showcasing your home's natural light, such colors also create the illusion of more space."

Add personal touches

That said, you want to keep things interesting and unique! Start by picking a single hue to splash throughout. "A signature color gives an accent to your home while showing off your personality," writes Mahoney. "It facilitates your ability to coordinate accessories, art, and other decor elements so that they blend and create a cohesive look." If you fear getting bored with your decor, Mahoney recommends placing items on wheels, which makes it easy to mix things up. Or pick up a few seasonal items. Mahoney loves sheepskin rugs, which she buys on-the-cheap at Ikea. "I have two or three and pull them out in the winter to drape over my couch, bed, or dining chairs."

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