Interior Improvement

Because of the glaring fact that you will eventually vacate a rental apartment or house, and sometimes sooner than expected, it can be difficult to justify spending a great deal on the decor. But that doesn't mean you can't make it your own and get creative while you're at it. When you do spend money, think long term: "When I've tweaked my rental homes," says Common Bond designer Alex Kalita, "I've aimed to minimize labor cost (you can't take that with you!) and spend instead on materials that can be repurposed in a future home." Beyond that, check your lease to understand what really shouldn’t be tampered with (some landlords don't like the idea of a tenant rewiring things, for example) and then pick a few you like from the following list!

Hang bamboo blinds, let us count the ways we love bamboo blinds: They're cheap ($30!), they soften sunlight without blocking it out, and they basically make any room feel like a sun porch at the beach. Oh, and you can get them on Amazon Prime and then screw them in in about five minutes.

Swap out cabinet knobs, unscrew existing pulls on cabinets and drawers and store them in a safe place (a shelf in the closet marked 'Reinstall Me at Move-Out!'), then DIY your own or scout some in the clearance bin at Anthropologie. "Anything that screws off can be screwed back on when you move and won't do permanent damage," Kalita notes.

Sticker over a bad kitchen floor, we wouldn't have believed this could be done to elegant effect until we saw designer Brady Tolbert's rental kitchen—and he didn't spend more than $50 and one afternoon lining them up over his ugly tile floors. Look for simple, solid colors and pattern them in a simple alternating design.

Get a new shower head, you know, so it’s actually pleasant to take a shower in your shower? Wait for that 30% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon or find a good rainfall option on Amazon Prime

Just add plants, before you run out and grab the first English Ivy you see, consider that there are tons of plants—some even shade-loving varieties!—that will grow happily indoors. (Note: Many big-box hardware stores will issue a warranty on them, so if they don't last the year you can bring them back!)

And find a decent planter, yes, terra cotta is actually pretty good-looking, but there are so many chic, inexpensive planters out there that will be more impactful (and of course, they can move with you to future apartments).

Paint the walls, no matter what! "Typically landlords use a very basic white paint," says designer Casey Kenyon, who advocates for a hue that’s more deliberate: "Choose a white that feels right for you and your space." Paint a few samples (several coats of each) directly on the wall before choosing one. "It always looks different on the wall than in the store!"

Tile a (removable) backsplash, let us guess: Your “backsplash” is actually just the same wall color and texture that’s the rest of the apartment? Stick-on subway tile decals will change that real quick.

Washi tape a design on the wall, rather than splurging on a whole room's worth of temporary wallpaper, which can run into the hundred of dollars (and won't come with you!), use washi tape to create a graphic design (tiny x's allover, wide stripes, or a single line going all the way around the room like a belt at wainscoting-height).

Swap your switch plates, if you're painting the walls (and you are, right?) pick up spare outlet covers for that room and paint them too. Or find inexpensive black or brass ones and spare yourself the trouble. The originals can be stored until the lease is up.

Hang art without framing it, clips, tacks, and washi tape are your friend—yes, the kind you can source at any art store, or these 14 design-friendly alternatives (don't worry, just one pack of them will be way more cost-effective than professional framing.

Replace the kitchen faucet, you might want to let your landlord know you're getting into this, but if you're footing the bill they probably won't mind.

Get a decent toilet paper holder, whether it gets mounted right where the ugly one was or propped up on the floor nearby, a more attractive toilet paper holder will go a long way towards making your bathroom guest-friendly (time to find a new place for the litterbox, yes?).

Cover some walls (or a ceiling!) in fabric, if your walls are those bumpy popcorn finish—or if you just want to impart a much more dramatic feel to the space—do as designer Nick Olsen did in his New York City apartment: Tack up a piece of fabric by stapling it to the edges of the wall, then simply pull it off when you're done with the space.

Put up a kitchen peg-board, whether it’s proper pegboard (which has pre-cut holes for looping hooks into and securing with nails) or just chicken wire arranged with little hooks, a good peg board will help you organize your desk supplies, kitchen tools, and even toiletries vertically. No floor space needed!

Switch out doorknobs, if your polished nickel doorknobs have really got you down, go find a porcelain or brass one that feels a little more 'authentic' in your hand and install it.

Disguise your ugly fridge, now this, rather than walls, is a great use for temporary wallpaper because you'll only need one roll. (glossy black contact paper is a great alternative if you want to go even more affordable.) Say goodbye to the stained white surface for good.

Hang a pendant bulb in a dark corner, with a good hook and a long cord, there's not even any hardwiring required. (Though we do encourage you to get creative with the cord configurations.

Add a picture rail, the simple molding used to make a picture rail shouldn’t run you more than a few dollars a foot—and then you’ll be able to hang art all over the apartment without putting nail holes everywhere. The owners of this cool and collected two-bedroom in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park—a young couple—wanted to make the most of the kitchen’s linear layout, so they chose to add built-in seating and hung a pendant light in a graphic display above the table.

Contact-paper over your granny cabinets, sure, you could remove those terrible 'rustic' doors and sand them for the open shelf look—but your landlord won't like that. Contact paper saves the day again (we like solid, matte colors for a clean look on these).

Opt for a twin bed, sound like it would make for a schoolgirl look, but choosing a sophisticated twin bed can actually hugely open up a room. Not to mention cost less than a double bed. Even less if you get a day bed and put it to this end!

Use a series of small rugs for hallways, rather than splurging on a runner that perfectly fits your uniquely-shaped hallway (and might not work in the next), try thrifting a handful of small rugs to lay one after another in a row.

Swap out bad lighting fixtures, "I think changing out bad rental light fixtures for something that is more reflective of your personality is so important," Kenyon says. Simply unscrew (or have an electrician unscrew!) the existing fixtures and replace with some you like better: Shop thrift stores, big box chains, and sites like Chairish for deals on cute ones, even wall sconces that aren’t hard wired. (Cords can be chic.)

Decorate with nature, a bouquet of dried grasses, a well-worn piece of driftwood, sculptural stones from the back yard—heck, even a random branch you found on the way home and spray-painted copper. Instant sculptures for tabletops, shelves, and walls.

Install LED strip lights in the kitchen, you know, the kitchen where you can hardly anything? A super-long strip of stick-on LED lights can be found for about $20, and affixed right underneath the cabinets it kind of changes everything.

Get a new toilet seat, roam the aisles of Bed Bath and Beyond for long enough and you'll find a nice one—whether it's just a brand new white one or something slightly fancier, like wood.

Add a sisal area rug, some leases will require that you cover a large percentage of the floor with rugs, meaning you’ll need some big ones. Sisal and jute rugs can be acquired for a few hundred dollars in large sizes, whether you look to your hardware store or a source like for options. (We also like inexpensive round jute rugs, as accents.)

Upgrade your extension cords, a myth: The best extension cords are white or brown in an attempt to be invisible. The truth: You're going to see them no matter what, so they might as well be cute.

Make throw pillows, what’s that, you don’t know how to sew? Try taking a few scraps of fabric and a pillow insert to your tailor. Boom, custom pillows.

Paint the ceiling, it might sound daunting, but painting your ceiling will have a major impact on the feel of a room. A tried-and-true method: Mix a few drops of the wall color in a bucket of white paint, and use that. (Or use dark blue to make it feel like the night sky.)

Mount your bike on the wall, not only does it address the fact that you're probably trying to figure out how to cover the walls, mounting your bike on the wall is also a major space-saver. Bolt a length of pipe to the wall and loop it over that, or find a simple c-hook with a rubber cover.

Paint just your molding and trim, if your walls are already a color you like, or you want to take the look a step further, consider painting just the molding around doors and ceiling-to-wall transitions, either a glossy version of the eggshell color on the walls, or something more vibrant.

Layer the light, by positioning your lamps at various heights (some on the floor, some on desks, some on shelves, in various bulb strengths (dimmable, if possible), apartment will have a welcoming glow rather than a hash feel.

Turn your radiators into shelves, by having a 2-by-6 cut to fit the length, painting it to match the walls, and then setting it right on top. Shelf!

Add baseboards, if you're 'blessed' with a white-box apartment, void of character, consider adding base boards to the feet of the walls to give them a clear, sturdy-looking end-stop. (Paint them, too!)

Find some cute under-bed storage bins, the temptation will be to just go get those plastic tubs and be done with it (then also: never pull them out ever because you hate them). Sourcing some some slightly more attractive ones will help you keep the room tidier.

DIY Some Art, the possibilities for doing this, without actually using any artistic talent, are endless: Have a fuzzy photograph blown up to a huge scale at the copy center. Splatter paint, Pollock-style, on a canvas. Frame book pages and magazine tears. Marble paper!

Strip the paint off metal radiators and doors, years and years of paint starts to look weird and plastic-y on radiators, but you can actually strip it away using chemical stripper and a steel paint scraper—and a couple hours. But look how worth it your project will be!

Float shelves—and paint them the color of the walls, simple, rectangular floating shelves can be sourced very inexpensively from places like IKEA and Amazon; by simply matching them to the wall color they'll look custom-installed.

Swap out your vent covers, unless they're miraculously crafted from the same material as your floors, these could probably stand for an upgrade. Glossy black paint and metallic spray paint will make them next-level.

Hang a thrifted plate collection, peruse any half-decent thrift store and you're sure to find a trove of porcelain plateware. Stick to a color scheme (blue and white? all white?) and pick out a dozen, then hang them in a cloud configuration on the wall as if you inherited them from grandma.

Disguise a heinous countertop, peeling, laminate counter got you down? Marble contact paper is a readymade fix for that (can you tell we love contact paper?).

All the small space goodness from last month inspired me to make some tweaks and additions to make my small Brooklyn kitchen more serviceable and user-friendly (especially since I am its primary user). The changes are affordable, renter-friendly and, hopefully, helpful to some of you simmering and sautéing away in your own small kitchens.

Over-the-Stove Cutting Board: small kitchens are a challenge not just for storing things but for actually cooking. To gain a bit more usable counter space I purchased this bamboo cutting board that fits across two burners. If you don't use your stove much you could leave it there most of them time. Or, of course, you can just bring it out when you need more surface area to work on. I used it for an easier quesadilla assembly line recently and it was a great improvement. If you're curious, the one I have is by Lipper International and available through Amazon, Wayfair, Bed Bath & Beyond and more for around $23.

Vertical, Affordable Recycling Holder: Do you recognize this piece? It's from the kids' section of IKEA and is mainly marketed as a toy bin. I use it to hold recycling and it's just big enough to hold nearly a week's worth for my family of four. It's a TROFAST frame ($29.99) with two TROFAST storage boxes ($5/each).

Mini Dust Pan & Brush Secured to Fridge: Tired of getting the broom out of the closet every time there was something small to sweep up in the kitchen (like a bit of flour, coffee grinds, etc.) I had the idea to get a very small dust pan and stick it on the fridge. See below for an adhesive method that did not work - what did work was Scotch brand fasteners (adhesive on one side, Velcro-esque on the other). The mini dust pan is by Oxo ($6) and they also make a similarly small, but differently shaped one for a buck more.

Public Service Announcement: I first tried to hang the dust pan on the fridge with glued-on magnets. I don't know if the glue I was using wasn't up to the task (Gorilla Glue Super Glue) or if the plastic surface wasn't porous enough, but this method only lasted a few tries before the magnets came off and stuck to the fridge instead of the dust pan. Maybe you can make this method work, but I recommend skipping the frustration.

Double Magnetic Knife Holder: I wrote at length about this space-saving improvement recently and included some purchasing and DIY options. I'm still happy with this small, but effective tweak which freed up some wall space, which I used instead to add...

Vertical Shelving: With my knife holder off the wall, I had a few feet to use to put up some shelves (in this case, some very cheap IKEA shelves, the Ekby Laiva shelf with Stilig brackets). I haven't maximized the storage potential yet, but so far I'm using them to hold some canisters of grains and paper towels (remember, I caved and started buying them in bulk?).

Attractive storage baskets: I included this tip in a post about my small home. Adding stylish baskets above my cabinets has been the happy medium between underusing the space (with the benefit of an uncluttered appearance) and overusing the space (with big and visually heavy storage bins). My baskets are holding things I rarely use like cookie cutters, plastic Easter eggs and extra light bulbs.

Cookbooks above the fridge: Yes, no space is sacred in a small kitchen. I've whittled down our collection of cookbooks considerably, but prefer to have them close at hand in the kitchen if possible. Why not above the fridge? I turned a galvanized steel bookcase we were getting rid of on its side and it can hold most of our cookbooks. I'd like to whittle down even more so there isn't overflow on the top, but I'm getting there.

Microfiber drying mat: My small kitchen doesn't have a dishwasher and my dish drainer doesn't hold much more than a meal's worth of dishes. This is especially bothersome when I'm cleaning up after having company over and we have twice as many dishes to wash and dry (I know, I could hand dry as I go, but I prefer to let the air do my work!). When I purchased a microfiber drying mat to use under my drainer, I decided to get two for when one was in the wash. But I've also found it's great to pull out for overflow dish drying.

Simple pot lid container: This tip isn't just for small kitchens. My uncontained pot lids were making me batty and taking up much more space than they needed to. I researched, I pinned, I plotted, I planned. And found many terrific ideas and products. And then I just happened to see this simple plastic tub that was the right size and shape and solved my problem in perhaps not the most elegant way, but in a quick, cheap ($9), efficient way. It is actually intended to be a pull-out container but there is a lip (not pictured) on the bottom of this cabinet which would make that tricky so I decided, for once, to make things easier on myself and just forgo that functionality and simply use the bin to contain my pot lids. Nothing fancy, but it does the job just fine.

10. Magnetic Hook: This is such a tiny thing it barely warrants mention, but I wanted to give a little shout out to my new magnetic hook which I use to hold a kitchen towel. All my life I've hooked a towel around the fridge door handle because it was easy and it was there and I just didn't give it much thought. This gives the fridge front a more streamlined look and is another easy way to use the vertical surface of the fridge. This one cost $7 (from Amazon) and they also sell a double hook version.

Moving into your very first apartment is big. So is the to-do list, especially if you’re decorating from scratch — and on a budget. Decorating a new apartment requires a little pre-planning. These apartment decorating ideas come with a basic shopping list to get you started. The list focuses on the elements in each room that create the biggest bang for your budget.

When moving into a new apartment, your first task is to choose two spaces you want to prioritize first. The living room and bedroom are likely the two most important spaces in your place. They may also be the two rooms that require the most investment. Regardless of which rooms you want to tackle first, visualize how you’ll be using the room in order to furnish it. Focus on quality over quantity.

General apartment decorating ideas, there are a couple of elements you should consider adding to every room in the apartment. They’re affordable, and they make a big difference in the look of the room.

General shopping list for your new apartment: window treatments for each room, two lighting fixtures per room, window treatments. Nothing makes a room look unfinished faster than bare windows. Not to mention, you’ll be lacking in privacy. Whether you go with blinds or simple curtains and a curtain rod, make sure to add window treatments to each room in your new apartment. Don’t know what kind to buy? Choose a simple neutral shade. You can always add a second curtain panel in a geometric print or bold color.

Lighting fixtures, swapping out boring, basic light fixtures can make a huge difference in how your room looks and functions. Some lighting fixture ideas include: pendant lights, a more stylish, replacement overhead light fixture, wall sconces, table lamps, a floor lamp, battery-powered, LED under-cabinet lighting. As a rule of thumb, try to have two different light sources in each room. For example, add a floor lamp and an overhead light fixture in your living room, a table lamp and a pendant in your bedroom and an overhead light fixture and under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen.

Narrow table, cabinet or bench, yhis will be your entryway focal point and the catch-all for keys, handbags and mail. A narrow item will keep the area from feeling closed-in. Look for a piece that has additional storage like drawers, shelves or cabinets. If you need a place to sit and remove or put on your shoes, consider adding a bench that can work as an entry table and dressing bench. Choose one with storage, or one with tall legs where you can tuck in baskets for shoes and other objects.

Mirror, hang a mirror over your table or bench. A mirror adds vertical height to the setting and allows you to give yourself a check when you’re coming and going. Mirrors also do a great job of expanding small spaces.

Wall hooks, add a series of wall hooks or a wall rack in your entryway to organize jackets and backpacks. If you have lots of smaller items like umbrellas and hats, hang a canvas bag on one of the hooks to hold them.

Sofa, the sofa is the star of the living room, so invest carefully. It’s wise to choose the largest one you can fit in the space. Don’t fret if you’re dealing with a small living room; there are plenty of small apartment sofas that are just as stylish and comfortable as larger ones. If your budget is limited, go secondhand shopping for your sofa. Older or vintage sofas are well-made, and you can always throw a slipcover on one to freshen it up.

Coffee table, the next piece to consider should serve double-duty: the coffee table. Don’t feel limited by the word “table,” either; an ottoman is a great substitute. If space allows, select a narrow, rectangular ottoman that works as a bench or table. You can add a tray on top to set drinks on. In addition, many ottomans come with inner storage for blankets and magazines.

Wall art, you probably have a large white wall behind your sofa space to deal with. If you’re renting, painting or wallpapering may not be possible. However, strategically placing a collection of objects or framed photos, gallery-style, may be all you need. Alternatively, hang a rug or tapestry on the wall to add some color and texture to your living room.

TV cabinet, a media or TV cabinet is a great furniture piece to include in your initial living room decorating plan, even if you wall-mount your TV. It adds storage to your living room for more than just your media. Choose a narrow style with plenty of shelves, doors and drawers for optimal usage of space.

Table and chairs, choose a versatile table that can serve many purposes — you’ll use it often. Splurge on the table and look for secondhand chairs if you can’t afford both. If your kitchen will serve as your dining area, too, then consider adding one of these kitchen island ideas with stools or a tall bar table instead of a dining table. A taller table setup can serve as your dining and breakfast table, food prep and storage spot and mini office space.

Table runner, a table runner is a long strip of fabric that adds a pop of color or style to your table. Unlike a tablecloth, which covers the whole surface, a table runner adds a stripe down the table for a more modern feel. Simply including a runner can add a sense of design to your table and make your table setting more interesting.

Mattress, invest in the best and most comfortable mattress you can afford. After all, you’ll spend more time on your mattress than anywhere else in your new apartment. Save your creative budgeting for the rest of the room.

Headboard, a headboard is cool, modern and perfect for small bedrooms. Even if you don’t have the space or budget for a bedframe, never skip the headboard; it completes the look of your bedroom like nothing else. If cash is tight, check out these headboard ideas.

Nightstands, depending on the size of your new bedroom, you may choose a small side table or a traditional nightstand. Don’t feel like you have to get a matching pair, either; mixing and matching nightstands is a fun design choice.

Closet organization, if you don’t use your closet efficiently, clothes, shoes and miscellaneous items will inevitably end up in your bedroom space. A few closet organization items to consider are:

Want a total spa experience? Swap the old rental shower head for a luxurious rainshower style. Installation isn’t difficult; it should take less than half an hour. According to Planit DIY, simply unscrew the old shower head, add some teflon tape around the threads, and screw the new rainshower fixture on. Remember to turn the water main off first, and save the original shower head to put back when you move!

Bathroom vanity lights are affordable and easy to install. Visit your favorite home improvement center for the best variety. Most come with easy-to-follow instructions on how to install them, but, if in doubt, hire a licensed electrician. It should take a professional no time at all to complete this bathroom upgrade. Want to take it to the next level? If you can remove the existing mirror easily, replace it with a coordinating mirror to tie in your new lighting fixture.

The latest smart thermostats keep your home comfortable, and save you money by regulating temperature throughout the day. They’re easy to install, and can often be switched on or off remotely via a smartphone app. The Amazon Ecobee comes with Alexa voice and room sensors, making adjusting your home’s temperature as easy as telling it what you need.

Create a high-end, restful bedroom (and add a little atmosphere) with something as simple as swapping out the light switch with a sliding light dimmer. Adjustable lighting makes a huge difference in the ambiance of your bedroom.

Make your closet more functional by adding lighting. Track lighting, under-the-shelf LEDs, or even a brighter ceiling light makes it easier to find what you need.

No electric outlets available? Install battery-powered LED lights. The battery life is long, thanks to the low voltage the LEDs use.

You can pick up a commercial-style spray faucet at a home improvement center for under $150—some even include a coordinating soap dispenser! Installation isn’t difficult, and the aesthetic difference is amazing.

Curtains, Roman shades and other types of window coverings are worth the splurge. They pull your existing decor together while adding a luxurious feel to your rental. Plus, in most cases, they’re easy to take down and move to your next home.

The majority of charging that happens at home is for USB devices. Why not swap out your old wall outlets with new, multi-purpose ones featuring USB ports? Easy rental upgrades like this simplify your space and make your life so. Much. Easier.

High-quality wireless speakers are small and easy to mount. They make it easy to stream music into any room, or enhance the sound quality of whatever you’re watching. Once you have wireless speakers set up in your favorite rooms, you’ll never go back to basic.

The secret to swapping out the knobs—without drilling holes in rental cabinets—is to upgrade them with the same size or type of knobs the cabinets currently use. The project is simple: all you’ll need is a screwdriver and a small bag to safely keep the original hardware in—until it’s time to put it back. Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles for a unique look.

Creating a cohesive color scheme is one of the easiest ways to tie a room together. While we’d typically advise building one around the paint color, in this case, it might be best to stick to your personal items. However, as you can see in the photo above, that’s entirely possible. Everything from the stool to the baking tools and the dish sponge does double-duty by lending aesthetic value to the space.

Here, creating contrast is key. You’ll want to look closely at the hues that are already built-in to your kitchen and add in colors that will pop off of those existing ones. You’ll notice that not everything has to match exactly. You can mix and similar shades to give your design an even deeper sense of complexity.

Unless your rental comes fully furnished, you’re going to need to bring in a few of your own pieces into the space, anyway. Why not make sure that they add some visual interest into your design? If you feel like going bold and making a statement, consider using some colorful chairs like in the photo above. They could easily become the focal point for any kitchen.

If, however, those hues don’t quite fit in with your aesthetic, there is a subtler route that you can take. Play around with shape. Rather than sticking to a boxy, rectangular table and straight-backed chairs, look for pieces that feature shapely curves and elegant angles.

You’ve probably heard of a rug being used to ground a seating area in a living room or your bed. However, you can also do the same in a galley kitchen or beneath a dining table. In this case, the rug will serve the dual purpose of adding to the room’s aesthetic and providing an extra layer of protection for your rental floors.

Picking out rugs is all about the proper sizing. For this, you’ll want to remember the golden ratio, or a 2/3 proportion. Generally, you’ll want dining tables to take up 2/3 the length of the rug that sits underneath it. If you’re dealing with a runner, you’ll want to shoot for one that’s 2/3 as wide as the length of the aisle that it covers.

Lastly, wall art will always help infuse personality into a room. The kitchen is no exception. Here, the type of art you choose is entirely a matter of personal taste. However, we do recommend that you choose pieces that work nicely within your larger color scheme.

If you want to avoid nail holes, don’t worry. There are plenty of alternatives to hanging art available. Consider sticking to removable wall decals, stringing up tapestry, or utilizing existing shelving to create a loose take of a gallery wall.

Decorating rental spaces is all about striking a compromise. If you’re paying rent to be there, you’ll obviously want to be able to make the space feel like your own. But, if you’re hoping to get your security deposit back at the end of your lease, you’ll also need to make sure that any design decisions you make are easily reversible. Luckily, that’s where we come in. Use these tips to help make your kitchen feel like your very own space.

What does color scheme have to do with layout? It’s more important than you might think. Overly-complicated schemes have a tendency to make small apartments feel choppy or too busy.

Focus on choosing two or three colors and incorporating them throughout the entire apartment, rather than in just one particular section. This helps tie your entire studio together in a way that’s very easy for the eye to process. It also helps the overall design feel more cohesive.

As always, you should follow the 60-30-10 color rule. When working with such limited square footage, we highly suggest having your dominant shade (60%) be a neutral color, in order to open up the space as much as possible. Then, choose a middling shade (30%) for your secondary color and, finally, use pops of something bolder (10%) as your accent color.

When designing your studio, you need to divide your space up somehow. That said, not all dividers are created equal. Using too many, or the wrong type, leaves your space feeling choppy, or unnecessarily cut off from the rest of the room. Before you run out and buy dividers, it’s important to determine where, and how, you’re going to use them.

Classic room dividers work best in areas where you truly do need a little more privacy—consider them for the area around your bed. However, to avoid making your space feel too separated, opt for a divider that lets natural light shine through. Open shelving is an excellent option, as it provides the added benefit of additional storage.

Look into alternatives for the remainder of the apartment. A well-placed sofa or entertainment center separates the space without making your design feel segregated. If you choose either of these options, pick lower pieces you can see over — doing so brings a sense of depth to the room.

One of the biggest mistakes we see with studio apartment decorating is the desire to make the space feel too utilitarian. This often occurs when people work with limited budgets, and hope to move into larger living arrangements in the future, causing them to neglect investing in their studio’s design.

Don’t do your design a disservice! Each section of your open concept layout serves a distinct purpose. Your goal should be making each section of your space feel like a room unto itself, even if there aren’t any walls or doors for separation.

It doesn’t take much to transform a design from “strictly functional” to “purposefully designed.” For example: something as simple as a few throw rugs really ground each area. Adding a few accessories—especially appropriate textiles and décor elements—creates a sense that the area has been fully finished.

When dealing with limited square footage, visual height is one of your best tools for making your space feel as large as possible. By purposefully drawing eyes upward, you ensure that everyone who sees your home is taking in the space as a whole, rather than just the tiny section at eye level, making your design look and feel more complete.

To make it happen, utilize anything that draws eyes toward the ceiling. Here’s a few examples and suggestions to get you started: invest in verticle shelving, use a room divider, invest in some sizable wall art, hang a vertical mirror, hang things from the wall to create vertical storage, consider using a hanging light fixture as your statement piece.

Due to square footage constraints, laying out a studio apartment requires different design techniques than a decorating a traditional home. However, with a little forethought, planning and inspiration, you can easily create a space that’s both functional and beautiful. If you need a little help figuring out your studio layout, keep these tips in mind. They’ll help you put together an apartment layout you’ll love.

Just because you have a tiny space doesn’t mean you should have tiny furniture. One of the biggest design mistakes for a room of any size is cluttering it with small pieces. But the secret to successful small space design is just the opposite: choose the largest pieces possible.

First, buy big, it may sound counterproductive, but, when shopping for small space furnishings and decor, buy your choice of the following items in the largest size that will fit: chandelier or pendant, area rug, wall art, sofa or sectional, ottoman (that can double as a coffee table), bed. You won’t be able to fit as many items into your room as you initially envisioned, but that’s good thing. Fewer pieces, in a larger scale, will make the space look bigger and feel more functional.

A mirror works its magic in a small space by reflecting light and doubling the sense of space. Add the largest mirror you can fit. You can either stand a mirror on the floor and lean it against a wall, or create a mirrored wall, as in the kitchen pictured above.

A bedroom is where you go for rest, so do you really need a desk, TV, sitting area, or even a dresser? Maybe not. Prioritize your furnishing with the most important element of the bedroom: a bed. If you have any space left, consider adding a nightstand or a wall-mounted shelf to double as nightstand. Don’t forget a lamp!

Having space around your furnishings is nice — if you live in a large home or apartment. But all that nice negative space does nothing for you when you have guests over. Make best friends with your walls and add furnishings to the size and length of the space itself, such the custom banquette built-ins in this tiny dining room.

One of the first things the eye notices is what’s on the floor. Want to make your tiny space look larger? Add the biggest rug you can fit. The best way to find a perfectly fitting rug is to measure the open area your buying your rug for, and purchasing a rug just 2-3 inches smaller, all around. That way, you create a visual border that doesn’t look like carpeting. Go with a bold pattern — the larger-scale the pattern, the better.

What’s the first thing you notice about the dining room pictured above? It’s probably not the impossibly narrow dimensions of the room. The large, dramatic pendant lamps and wall-to-wall canvas make this small, narrow space look far bigger (and way more awesome!).

What do you use the living room most for? Sitting and lounging, with friends and family, or by yourself. Designate the majority of the space to seating, and skip the side tables and smaller sofas and chairs. A larger sectional, as shown in the image above, is extremely versatile. There are some great apartment sectionals similar to the one above, designed just for tiny living.

There’s a good reason to skip the coffee table and go with a big ottoman: you’ll use it more! An extremely versatile piece, an ottoman works like a coffee table if you place a tray on top. Or, cozy it up to your sofa or sectional to create a large daybed or lounge. As yet another alternative, move it elsewhere, your dining area, for example, and use as a bench or spare dining seat.

If you’re planning to move the ottoman around, pick an ottoman with wheels to make your life easier. And go with a storage style that opens up to hold blankets, magazines and other items.

Now that you know the secret to expanding the feel of your small space, give it a shot. Start by de-cluttering and getting rid of excess furnishings. Reintroduce the most essential elements, in the largest size possible. And enjoy!

Do you have a designated spot by the front door to catch your keys, bag, shoes and more? If you don’t, you need one! Creating a beautiful and nicely organized foyer not only makes it easier to grab your keys on the way out, it’s the perfect place to check yourself before you go.

If you’re wondering how to create the perfect foyer, you don’t need much. Depending on your space, start with a table or cabinet. Bowls or baskets can catch smaller things like keys or change. Be sure to add something on the wall to make the area look bigger. A mirror over the table opens up the space to look bigger and allows you to have a quick touch up before you go. Wall art is a good alternative. Everything else is up to you. Hooks, baskets and decor add personality to the spot.

Size doesn’t matter! You can create a functional entry in the smallest of spots. All that practicality can be beautiful — check out these entry decorating ideas for proof.

Heating the home in winter is one of the biggest household expenses. According to the EPA, 42% of the energy we use at home is for heating. While energy costs have risen, the improved energy efficiency of today’s heating systems offset those energy prices. There are plenty of energy-efficient home heating systems available for every budget to help you stay warmer this winter, and save you money in the process. Here’s your guide to the latest energy-efficient home heating systems.

Let’s talk efficiency strategy first, the most important component of an energy-efficient home heating system isn’t the system itself, but how well your home uses the system’s output. Sealing leaks in the doors, windows, walls and floors should be your first priority. Insulation, caulk and weatherstripping may be necessary around windows, doors or other drafty spots. These small steps are worth the investment — they’ll save you money in the long run in lower utility bills.

Some cities will send out a free home energy auditor who can help you find potential drafts and air leaks which may cause your system to work harder to keep your home warm. has a helpful video explaining how to do your own home energy audit.

How to choose the most energy-efficient home heating system, think about the following six questions before you decide on the best and most efficient heating system for your home. What’s the climate like? A colder climate might require a larger, highly efficient system that can heat your home appropriately while minimizing heating costs over the long winter. A portable heater or smaller zoned system may be better in temperate climates where heating is only needed on colder days.

How much of your home or apartment do you actually need to heat? Do you want to pay to heat an entire home or just a couple of select rooms? Choose a system with vents that can be closed or adjusted so you can choose to heat rooms you use most. A thermostat is also essential to efficiency to keep the system running only when it needs to.

What type of installation will the most energy-efficient home heating systems need? The two main heating systems are forced air or radiant. While radiant systems are often more efficient, they can be hard to install in an existing home.

How much space do you have available for your heating system? A large furnace may not be practical if you have a small home or apartment. Outdoor units like heat pumps may not be possible without a yard or outdoor area for the unit.

What fuel is available and how much will it cost to heat your home? Common fuel options include natural gas, heating oil, electricity or propane, all which can vary widely in price. Consider the lifetime cost of running an electric heating system versus one powered by a petroleum-based fuel.

Can I afford a renewable energy heating system? A solar or geothermal unit may have a big initial price tag, but there are plenty of rebates and incentives to consider. The lower monthly costs and the increase in your home’s value may also make the initial investment worth it. Many renewable energy companies can help you decide if the system and the payback period is right for your situation.

The latest and most energy-efficient heating systems, we’ve broken down the latest available energy-efficient heating systems by type. Now that you have an idea of what what type of heating system is best for your home, let’s explore the options.

Energy-efficient furnaces and boilers, the latest boilers, gas furnaces and oil furnaces are ultra-efficient and green. They’re designed to easily replace your existing heater. Furnaces are equipped with a duct system that delivers warm air to the rooms of your choice. Boilers deliver hot water in homes heated with radiators, baseboard heaters or radiant floor heat. Current models have an impressive 90 to 94 percent efficiency range, which can save you a lot of money on fuel. In fact, the savings may offset replacing your current heater if it’s more than 10 years old.

Heat pump systems, one of the earth-friendliest and most energy-efficient home heating system options is the heat pump system. They don’t use fossil fuel at all. Instead, they intake heat from the air or ground, which is delivered to the home via an electric pump. This type of system can also draw cool air and work as an air conditioner in summer.

Heat-pump systems come in two varieties: ground source and air source. Ground-source heating pumps are also called geothermal systems. Less common than air-source heat pumps, they draw heat from the earth via pipes buried roughly 6 to 8 feet beneath the ground. Air-source heat pumps draw natural heat out of the atmosphere, even if it’s cold outside. They concentrate the heat and distribute it via pipes or a duct system throughout the house. For every BTU of electrical energy needed to power an air-source heat pump, expect to get at least 3 BTU of heat. For ground-source systems, the ratio improves to roughly 1:4. Both types are suitable for existing homes although air-source heat pumps are easier and less expensive to install, because they don’t require underground excavation.

Solar heating systems, using solar power to heat your home is the cheapest and most earth-friendly way to heat your home, since you’re using the sun’s free energy. The only issue with a solar heating system is that it needs sunshine to work. If you live in a region where winter is cold and regularly cloudy, this type of system may not be reliable.

Solar hot air heating, a solar hot air system is newer on the market and one of the easiest systems to install. It’s also the most cost-effective means of heating a home and based on certification can qualify for up to a 30% federal rebate. Solar hot air heating is best for heating a home in a temperate climate or when used as a secondary heat source, since the system relies on steady sunshine. Solar collectors are mounted on the sunniest, south-facing walls of a home. The sun heats them up and when the collector reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit, a small fan turns on to pull cool air from the room into the collector to heat the air and pump it back in the room.

Each hot air collector panel can heat 500 square feet. If you’re handy, you can even install them yourself. Solar thermal heating systems, if you already have an existing radiant floor, forced-air, baseboard hot water system a solar thermal system may be a great way to upgrade it to be more efficient. Solar collectors are mounted on the roof of a house and connected to an indoor water storage tank. Pumps circulate the water from the tank to the solar collectors to be heated and pumped back to the tank to distribute the hot water to warm the house.

This system is more expensive and can create excess hot water that is wasted, so it may not be the best for locations with short winters or milder climates. Heating your home efficiently in a well-planned and environmentally friendly way will pay off in comfort, property value and long-term savings. Do your research and be sure to weight the pros and cons to make sure your investment pays off over time.