September is a popular time for moving in and moving out. Copywriting intern Alexa Marion has some advice on how to make a small space seem bigger (ie: dorm rooms, studio apartments, city living). Read up on her tips below…

Finally! The cure for small studio apartment syndrome.  These five easy steps will take your apartment from a cluttered mess to an open, airy living space where you’ll actually enjoy spending your time.  Bonus: they’re all super cheap for the girl on a budget.  You can easily find everything you’ll need at thrift stores, flea markets or Ikea.  Also be sure to check out the housewares section of Karmaloop for cute pieces to add some personality to your space.

1. De-clutter:

The reason your apartment looks so small is probably all of your crap that you’ve piled up around it.  To begin, do a major overhaul and get rid of everything you don’t need.  One to three accessories per room (vases, posters, knick knacks, etc.) will make your space look chic without overwhelming it.  Organize everything you want to keep into racks and bins, and try to get things off the floor.  Your goal is to maximize your floor space, so compact storage solutions are key.  Install cheap shelves to take advantage of wall space.

2. Use light:

Light is key to opening up a space.  Natural light is best, so if you have windows take advantage of them by avoiding heavy window treatments.  If your view is of the homeless man living in the vacant lot next door (or something similarly shitty), you can hang plants around your windows to mask whatever’s out there.  When choosing artificial lighting, try and pick tall fixtures that will fill the whole room with light.  Chandeliers or paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling will draw the eye upwards and make the space feel larger.  To enhance the lighting, paint your walls a light or pastel paint color to reflect light.  Cream with light blue or light green accents is a great color combination to open up your space.

3. Focal point:

Picking one focal point, such as a piece of art on the wall or a well-decorated bed with lots of throw pillows, in each room will draw the eye towards that space and also reduce clutter in other areas.  Following the minimalist principle that less is more will create a chic-er, more streamlined space.

4. Multifunction furniture:

Fewer items of furniture that have more than one purpose will give you more floor space and thereby open up the room.  Using an ottoman as a footrest/coffee table is key, especially if you can find one that has storage inside.  Wooden stools double as end tables and extra seating when you have guests come over.  Place larger pieces along walls so they don’t break up the room, and make sure that there are clear walking paths without furniture blocking them.  If you have a long piece such as a sofa, try placing it at a diagonal (since the diagonal is the longest line in the room) to make your space seem longer.  Lower furniture, as opposed to tall pieces, will make the ceilings look higher in comparison.  To make a bedroom feel larger, try going without a bedframe and just putting your mattress and box spring on the floor.  Add some comfy floor cushions, a low nightstand and a chandelier or other light fixture hanging from the ceiling and your bedroom will look huge and zen-chic.

5. Mirrors:

Mirrors are one of the best ways to make a room seem brighter and more open.  Try a large decorative wall mirror across from a window or focal point (like a fireplace, bed or painting).  To make a room look enormous, cover a wall with mirrored panels.  You can also try mirrored cabinets or tables for added functionality.

[image via Hotel Praktik Rambla Barcelona]