After struggling to easily find the right items to furnish her own apartment, Kuldea Co-Founder, Deirdre Mc Gettrick, was inspired to create an online platform to make home shopping as straightforward, efficient and fulfilling as possible. Here, she shares some of the tops tips she has learnt along the way for furnishing a small apartment. 

What factors do you need to consider when furnishing a small apartment?

You don’t need to be an interior designer to achieve a perfectly designed and furnished small apartment. You just need to follow your instincts and know what to be mindful of. Here are some factors you will need to consider when furnishing a small apartment.

Compartmentalise your living space

This is a tough task in a small apartment but you can do it. Look at the layout and furniture items that allow you to create a sense of separation in each area of your living space. It sounds a little daft but harmonising your living space so that you feel a sense of the area you are in is important to healthy living!

Note: In this image you’ll see how Dwell places a 4 seater chaise sofa in a smaller living space and a coffee table. It creates a nice passageway that opens up the room

What impact will light have within a room?

I completely underestimated this factor and it is crucial. To furnish the apartment and meet your visions for each room you need to be set on the colours you will use. Light plays a huge part in this, so be sure to understand how much natural light each of your rooms will receive and how much artificial light you will use to illuminate the rooms at times. This knowledge will guide your choice of wall paint or paper, which will then determine the furniture and furnishing colour schemes that you go for.

Note: This Classic Chic Living Room from Maisons Du Monde absolutely utilises the light intake into the room and the contrast light and dark colours actually offer the room a more spacious feel

What space do I have to work with in the apartment for furniture and furnishings?

Knowing how much space you have to work with by room is critical and you’ll be surprised by how much we all underestimate this. I, for one, fell victim to this by allowing my visions to escape my reality to a certain extent.

Given that, the first thing you need to do is measure the square feet or metres per room to understand what space you’re working with. A key tip is to not measure this by just floor space but also measure it by workable space. What that means is know the space below and above your head as furnishing a small apartment is going to require all of it!

Note: Dwell place this  4 seat Rotunda dining table set at the centre of the room where all other furnishings can be placed around it to complement, plus is stores away very compact

The next thing to consider here are the angles within each room. This is particularly important in older apartments or buildings that have been reconfigured from their original state for apartment living. Often apartments will have angled walls or unique coves that fit with the structure of the building which you will need to work around. The key for you is to understand this and then find furniture, which contours to the room thus allowing you to create the perfect living space for your needs. An advantage of having various angled walls within an apartment is that it does allow you to get creative with the way you use the space for everything from placing select items of furniture to hanging shelving and storage in places you wouldn’t normally get in a perfectly symmetrical room.

My starting point for each room was to decide what was the main furniture item in each room. I would then place that item into the room first and then fit the other furniture items around it. Naturally, I would ensure the initial item was not too large for the room and I knew that if I can make that item work then furnishing the rest of the room would be much easier.

What design themes do you want running through your rooms?

This is something I really valued in designing and furnishing my apartment. I thought long and hard about what I would be using the room for and how I wanted to feel when I was in it. I felt each room was a reflection of my personality. I’m a creative person and the project of theming my rooms allowed me to express that.

It may sound a little vain, but I feel like every person’s home I go into has an individual feel to it so I absolutely took this into consideration when setting my design themes. To extend on this point, I began to consider how other people would feel when they visited my apartment and I wanted them to be impressed with my room design themes.

Note: Maisons Du Monde demonstrate a great mix of colours and theme by using the forest and parrots in this design

I then moved from these feelings to researching design themes that appealed. The elements that I focused in on were design trends, colours and materials.

It’s fascinating when you get your head into searching through Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Google searches in search of imagery that brings these elements to life. My process involved mood boards for the room themes and I physically wrote down the personality expressions I wanted the rooms to have. What it did allow me to do was really narrow down to the specific furniture items I wanted because my design themes were clear.

How much storage do you have in the apartment?

The biggest challenge that everyone faces in a small apartment is storage space. There is just never enough space! Be sure to understand what storage space you have available to begin with and then work out how much additional storage you will need through your furniture items.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options available for maximising storage space in a small apartment. Some of the items I found useful were:

  • Purchasing an L shaped chaise sofa that contains storage under one side. It offers my living area a great sofa option along with at least another 7 square feet of storage that would otherwise be redundant.

Note: Darlings of Chelsea Lana Modular Sofa offers great storage under the seating

  • A reasonably sized footstool can offer you more comfort on the sofa for relaxing and add considerable storage space in living, and lounge areas.
  • A coffee table with two levels to it. This allowed me extra storage space for things like books, magazines and even glasses and plates that I use for entertaining.

Note: Graham and Green Estere gold marble coffee table offers storage and style plus can be adaptive to smaller living rooms

  • Sideboards can offer a lot and I chose one that complemented the feature wall and created 2 cupboards and 4 draws of space without creating an additional impact on the living space I had in the area.
  • Ottoman beds or beds with storage built in provide a huge amount of space within each bedroom. I personally prefer ottoman beds, as they are so storage savvy and utilise the entire surface area of the bed frame as additional storage! Each bedroom in my apartment has benefited from at least an extra 12 square feet of storage.

Note: And so to Bed Tempur Ottoman Storage Bed offers a significant amount of space

One final top tip on storage is to think about the space you have above and around you. So often, we are drawn to how we can build out our home furnishing from the floor up, but we tend to overlook the space from the ceiling down. These areas provide opportunities in each room to create shelving and storage solutions that service the space we have.

What else do I need to consider when furnishing a small apartment?

As a lesson learned from the experience of furnishing my apartment, I will never ever forget to check the delivery terms of each retailer. Before completing any home furniture purchases be sure to ask yourself:

  • How soon do I need this item, and will the retailer meet my requirements?
  • How accessible is the apartment and the rooms for moving furniture in? Through my own experience and from what I have heard from friends, it shows that we all commonly forget to look at accessibility. As an example, I have a friend who bought a super king-sized bed only to realise that the retailer couldn’t get it into his apartment complex when it arrived! In the end he had to saw the bed in half and the reassemble it once he got it in the bedroom. What a nightmare! Don’t let this happen to you and be sure to thoroughly check all access points to ensure the furniture can be easily moved into the apartment.
  • Will the retailer deliver to my area? If so, do they deliver to apartment buildings or deliver to residence located upstairs? Many retailers don’t.
  • Is delivery charge included in the retailer’s price or is it an additional extra required for payment?
  • Will the retailer remove my old furniture items free of charge when they deliver my new items?

Alongside these points, be sure to review the returns policy of each retailer. This is particularly pertinent when purchasing online and you’re always best advised to do your homework first before submitting any order.

I hope you’ve found this content relevant and useful for your own project. Every small apartment is unique as it’s your home, so be sure to approach the task of furnishing it with vision, passion and caution to be certain you create the apartment you deserve.

To start your apartment furnishing project, head to our Products page for thousands of products from the UK’s leading retailers and get your transformation underway!