Your New York movers are gone, boxes are unpacked and you are ready to design and decorate your new space. But then you look around and become overwhelmed at where to start. Your small space seems like it's impossible to work with! Don't let this post-moving day realization get you down. When living in a small space like an apartment or loft in NYC, the interior design basics are a little different than when one is designing for a larger space. It’s really not a hard task to create a livable, comfortable space if you use a couple of decorator tricks and a little advance design basics planning.

Create unity in your small space by using a theme. I'm not talking cliché themes here. Simply choosing a color scheme and the feeling you want to evoke in the room can keep you on track with your design choices, and also in your spending. Try giving your room a name, such as Calming Zen Bedroom, or Modern Color Loft.

Focal Point:
Every room should have a primary focal point to direct the feel and the tone of the room. A fireplace might have a cool painting leaning on the mantel, a bedroom may have a view of city nightlife to die for; whatever your room’s focal point is, make sure all other design elements point to it. If the eye has a natural place to go to, the room design will seem stronger and the entire apartment will feel more spacious.

Using lighting creatively in a small apartment can make your place seem less like a tight storage unit to the perfect place to entertain. Layer your lighting so that there is a soft focus over the entire room. Add up lights to corners to expand the visual space, and use dimmers on light switches. Try to avoid harsh overhead lighting whenever possible, opting instead for table lamps, low hanging light fixtures and modern wall sconces.

Color and Pattern:
Using cool, light color schemes throughout the apartment will create the feeling of open space, and will make for a more relaxed setting. Try to avoid too much contrast and pattern. The more often the eye has to stop when looking over a room, the smaller the room appears. Add subtle texture to keep the room from appearing bland with fabrics and accessories.

When choosing furniture for your apartment, try to keep scale in mind. Using pieces too large for the space will make it feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed. Try to minimize the number of furniture pieces, and choose furniture that does double duty. Pick furniture that isn’t fussy with lots of legs or ornamentation. Shiny surfaces such as glass top tables you can see through make a room appear larger, and add a wonderful texture to the room. Arrange the furniture to allow clear traffic patterns, and try not to line it up around the walls. Often placing furniture on a diagonal in a small space adds a whole new dimension to a small apartment.

Art and Accessories:
When it comes to art and accessories in a small space, remember less is more. Make sure you keep your art choices to one or two larger pieces instead of many small items that confuse the eye and clutter the room. If you have many loved and cherished collectibles, rotate them out by seasons, and group them together instead of scattering them around each room. Choose art that coordinates with your color scheme for the most seamless look. Incorporate mirrors and other shiny surfaces as much as you can to add sparkle to the room and visually expand space. And be sure to leave at least one blank wall in each room to give the eye a place to rest.

Functionality and Organization:
In a small space, you want to make sure that all the pieces you choose are as functional as they are beautiful. There is no room for hanging onto anything that doesn’t directly contribute to the rooms overall design and functionality.

Organization is mandatory in a small apartment. Consider having a professional closet system installed, or using rolling drawers under the bed. Shelving can be a great use of space, but to avoid the “busy” look, make sure the shelving is enclosed.

Just remember: there are always New York City storage facilities if you really can't everything into your small space.

Want free home and garden ideas? Kathy Wilson is an author, columnist and home decorating expert. To read more articles written by Kathy, visit and

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