City Tip: How To Make Your City Space Look Bigger Than It Is

emily bathroom.jpg

actual city bathroom on the left. We are serious…

-Emily Rickard’s bathroom is goals.

BY EMILY RICKARD-Citykin at-large design editor and person who is so talented the States won’t let her just reside and work in the U.K.

Space for city dwellers is the ultimate challenge. There is never enough. In 2016 the average NYC one bedroom apartment was around 866 square feet and cost $3680. In Paris $1730 could buy you 350 square feet and in London you could get a roomy 818 square feet for the price of…$1650. What a bargain! The essay on why city people are certifiable is another article. Obviously, the reward of being able to reach your bedside table, light switch and TV, all from the comfort of your own bed is TOTALLY worth lighting money on fire. None of us want to feel like we are living in a shoe box, but for many of us city families….we are.

Stop crying. By using clever design and styling tips, you can make your small apartment look and feel bigger. Having lived in many New York apartments I know a few tricks that can turn a small space dilemma, into a spacious dreamy home.

Choose larger statement furniture items

SAY WHAT? This may seem a little counter intuitive but it works, I promise!

Often, when looking at a city apartment, it can feel worryingly small. Viewing empty apartments can also be daunting. The thing that many people don’t often realize, is that the minute you start to fill a room with furniture, it feels bigger. And the bigger the piece, the larger the room feels.


The bigger the furniture piece, the larger the room feels. WEIRD I KNOW!!!?

Always bring your wall colors right across the ceiling   

This little trick can make the walls feel higher, and the room feel more spacious.  Don’t be afraid of color, even in small spaces. If you want to go dramatic though, keep your colors either dark or muted. Heading into a space painted in bright primary colors not only closes a room in, but can date a lot more quickly.

Use rugs to create separate areas in one room

In smaller apartments, there is often only one allocated space for living, dining and if you are lucky, a play space. This can be super challenging not only for storage but also simply choosing what goes where and how. Using rugs to separate spaces is an ideal way to create little areas for different activities. One rug for living, one for play, another for dining if you have space. Limited dining areas also tend to work much better with round rather than square or oblong tables.

Don’t use bright, overhead lights

This is personal favorite of mine, in ANY sized space. Overhead lights can be useful if you need bright light to read or work, aside from that, don’t turn them on! They create very little ambience and can really distort the actual square footage or make small spaces look even tighter.  

Choose Furniture pieces with exposed legs

Rather than having furniture that sits in heavy blocks, like a sofa, credenza or coffee table all the way to the floor.. use furniture with legs. It lets the light flood under it and create a sense of light and space.

Expose those legs girlfriend!!!!

Expose those legs girlfriend!!!!

Go big or go home

Use a large dramatic piece of art rather than lots of little pieces or a gallery wall. This creates an impression of grandeur and expanse. I’m not saying stick huge art all over your apartment.. gallery walls definitely have their place. But there tends to be a trend to ‘over do’ the gallery wall a bit, and you really only need one or two max. When picking the spots to put the larger art, try leaving the rest of the wall free, like hanging one or two over a sofa, or at the end of the hall as you walk in.


Are you sort of over the gallery wall? Us too.

Place mirrors strategically

Mirrors can completely open up a room and create the illusion of more space. Instead of sticking the TV above the mantle, why not add a sliding mirror over the top of it? Or put a mirror above the dining area to bounce light and space back into the room.

Have fun

Stop rolling your eyes. I can’t stress this enough. So many of us tend to overthink it…. It becomes another added layer of mania, on top of the kids, laundry, bills and so on. When it comes to choosing space for art, or colors for your walls - try a few things out and have fun with it. And if at first you don’t succeed. . . don’t be afraid, go ahead and try something else.

Failing that. Pour yourself a drink. . and ask an expert!