As tiny apartments become more and more prevalent, learning to turn one into a comfortable home becomes both a logistic and an aesthetic necessity. This is especially true if you’re renting one in Seattle. Part of the city’s unique real estate signature, tiny apartments in the Emerald City offer the least amount of square footage in the US. However, the small confines of your tiny abode can be taken advantage of with a touch of creativity and an out-of-the-box design approach. Fortunately, there are several things you can do in terms of room arrangement and furniture choice that will make your tiny apartment both functional and beautiful.

Here are some tips to help you optimize your tiny apartment:

1. Take a minimalist approach

With the tiny apartment setup, space becomes a much-treasured commodity. In order to make your quarters feel more spacious and comfortable, you can follow a minimalistic decorating strategy. In other words, abide by the principles of a hotel room: Only keep the essentials. The less furniture and knick-knacks you put on display, the roomier your apartment will look. Pick pieces that you really love and leave some surfaces bare.

2. Use lighting to enhance space

Use lighting to your advantage in order to brighten up the space. You might not be allowed to make structural changes to your tiny apartment, such as adding windows to allow in more natural light, but you can recreate this effect by following the “rule of threes” with lighting. According to interior designers, you should have at least three light sources in a room in order to create dimension in your apartment. Mix and match floor lamps and table lamps — possibly even a small chandelier to cast light across the room from above.

Stick with white or other lighter hues when choosing a lampshade, as darker colors tend to make a space appear smaller. Additionally, you can visually expand your space by adding mirrors that will bounce light across the apartment. Floor mirrors accomplish this effect, while also adding more style to your tiny space.

lamp in a tiny Seattle apartment

3. Go for a lighter color palette

Since painting walls also might not be permitted, your choice of furniture and décor color is vital when it comes to making your tiny apartment feel more livable. Choose neutrals like white, light grey or beige to open up the room. If your walls come in white tones, choosing neutral furnishings will create an atmosphere of airiness. For contrast, choose one small piece of furniture or décor in darker hues. Make sure to limit this pop of color to one section of the apartment in order not to overwhelm the tiny space.

4. Define living areas

Be creative in how you organize your space in order to overcome the challenge of defining the confines of your new apartment. Make sure your bedroom, living area, and kitchen do not all blend into one — assuming there is enough room to do so! For instance, separate your sleeping area with a partition such as a storage shelving unit. Alternatively, you can add a sheer curtain for the same purpose. Incorporate a patterned rug to signify a different “activity zone,” namely the living room. Moreover, a small angled desk can be used to create an out-of-the-way work area.

5. Go narrow

Your limited quarters might make you think that there isn’t enough room for a dining room or a desk, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead of a standard sized table or desk, choose the most narrow and sleek pieces of furniture available to help you make clever use of your space and add a modern look to your home. Make sure to place these furniture items as close to the wall as possible in order to provide flow and leave pathways through your tiny apartment.

6. Befriend multiuse furniture

Once you’re settled into your tiny apartment, it will quickly become obvious that you need to make the best possible use of every inch of space. As such, looking into multi-use furniture is essential. Consider a futon — a popular choice when space is lacking — to cover both your seating and sleeping needs. Style it with throw pillows along the back and you’ll have attractive and practical seating for guests.

Typically, futons include storage underneath where you can keep extra clothing and other household items. However useful this “underbed” storage solution is, you’ll still likely struggle to fit all your belongings into your new living space without it feeling cramped. Instead, think about renting a self storage unit in Seattle to keep out-of-season clothing and other large items and to open up extra space in your tiny apartment. Using self storage helps you get the best of two worlds, as you can still keep your belongings while living in your tiny apartment, which ultimately saves you money.

Another versatile furniture choice is the Murphy bed. This option is a game-changer but is expensive and requires some space. You can fold it during the day and use the floor space to slide in a work desk or unfold a table and chairs when you have friends over. Also, look into getting a bookshelf for your bedroom that can be used to store additional clothing, shoes, or even decorations.

7. Maximize space with stackable furniture

Making use of stacking furniture is another trick that can help you get the best of two worlds: utility and added space. Think about buying nesting tables that can be easily pulled out when you need them. The same principle applies to your seating scheme. Invest in stylish folding metal chairs that can be stored out of the way, or that can serve as patio or balcony furniture.

nesting tables

8. Embrace vertical space

When planning the best way to use your space, it’s critical that you look into vertical furniture. Make your pick of either bookcases or vertical storage units that you can place on either side of the doorway. This achieves a built-in look that offers endless storage possibilities. You can also install floating shelves, hooks, peg boards or any other vertical solution that helps clear floor space. Use stacking bins on top of cabinets all the way to the ceiling, but make sure you have a small step tool for when you need to reach them.

9. Opt for a multipurpose kitchen island

If your tiny apartment doesn’t come with a kitchen island, consider purchasing a wheeled one to increase counter space. This addition will provide you with a flexible working station, as well as a place to store kitchen utensils. Your kitchen island can also serve as a dinner table or work desk.

small kitchen island

10. Stick to versatile kitchen items

You might not have room for all the elaborate kitchen gadgets you can think of, but there is something you can do to use limited storage to your advantage. Keep items that can accomplish multiple tasks – invest in a chef’s knife that can chop vegetables and smash garlic in a jiffy. Also, look into pans, bowls and other collapsible or stackable utensils to maximize cupboard space.

11. Guide the eye upward with décor

In order to make your space feel bigger, add a personal touch to the walls. If the landlord allows it, try painting or using wallpaper to personalize the apartment. Add mirrors to make the place appear roomier. Another trick you can use is to hang your art or decorations on floating shelves as high as possible – it will make it feel like the apartment has tall ceilings, even if this is not the case. But don’t overdo it – make sure to leave one or two empty walls in the tiny apartment to avoid a crowded feeling.

Did we help you make your tiny Seattle apartment feel homey? If there’s something else we haven’t covered on this topic, let us know in the comments below.


Mirela is a real estate writer and lifestyle editor for Yardi. With an academic background in English and translation, Mirela now covers a range of topics including real estate trends, lifestyle and economy. Her previous experience in proofreading academic articles has inspired Mirela to choose a writing career path. In her free time, Mirela enjoys reading, but also hiking and creating art. You can contact Mirela via email.

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