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News Flash – you don’t have to be an interior designer to make smart design and decorating decisions about your apartment. Just ask my mother. She collects things like barn doors and tri-cycles and magically turns them into headboards or lamp shades.

Whew, now that I have that off my chest, let’s get to the good stuff. I am a professional leasing consultant and have helped hundreds of customers looking to move into apartments – both big and small (the apartments, not the customers). And, no matter what size apartment they’re moving into (small is a relative term), one thing never changes – wanting to make the apartment feel bigger. So, consider these great tips for making small, or not so small spaces, look even bigger.

1. Paint – Most apartment buildings will allow you to paint; some will even add an accent wall for you. Use light colors as this will make the room feel bigger and brighter.

(Photo: Even a lighter colored comforter makes a difference.)

(Photo: I found this at LampsPlus. It goes with every decor.)

2. Similarly, if you have dark floors, a light colored rug will make the room less dense and more open.

3. Hang a mirror opposite a window. This allows light to bounce around the room, making the space feel airier.

4. Buy a plant. Not only will a plant make you feel better, but the greenery will also make even the smallest room feel lighter and fresher. If you’re running out of space on the floor, try a hanging plant!

5. Instead of bulky bookcases or dressers, use floating shelves. This will free up space while still offering storage.

(Photo: I thought these were cool, and they are less than $40 at Lowes.)

6. Make smart use of corners. Corners can be valuable real estate if you know how to work them. Squeeze in an accent chair or a corner book shelf.

7. Look for furniture pieces that have more than one purpose – a trundle bed that can be folded into a sofa, a coffee table that has drawers for storage, or dining table with a built in leaf to make entertaining easier.

8. Add metallic accents, whether it’s a lamp shade, light fixture, or some shimmering object. Similar to the mirror, this will reflect light and brighten up the space.

9. Make an effort to de-clutter your apartment regularly. Once or twice a year, go through your possessions and re-evaluate what should be kept. If you’re having a hard time letting go of something, but don’t want it in your apartment, give it to my mother – she’ll turn it into an ironing board for you!

10. Lastly, pull furniture away from the walls. It sounds odd, but just a few inches between the wall and the back of your couch will make the living room look more open.

Well, there you have it – an even larger (feeling) apartment than you thought you had. The decorating and buying stuff part should be fun. If you need help finding the right apartment in downtown Chicago for doing that kind of stuff, drop me note at hannahrose@hotspotrentals.com or check us out at hotspotrental.wpengine.com.

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