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Small Apartment Ideas: Clever Colour and Lighting Tips

If you live in a small apartment, you’ll know the importance of making your décor choices work for you. The challenge is creating the illusion of space, whilst retaining the comfortable and functional elements necessary for daily life. We’ve enlisted the help of Australia’s leading interior experts to guide you through using colour and light to create a stylish home which maximises your living areas.

Wall Art Prints

Who they are: Specialists at bringing world-renowned artworks to Australian homes via high-quality affordable prints, their selection of 20,000 prints are available in a range of styles and sizes.

Live large: The team at Wall Art Prints suggests hanging artwork as a way to open out your home. As they point out, it’s ‘a fabulous way to create an extra window to the world’ in apartments where actual windows are often minimal.

Style your space: Pick out a windowless wall in your bedroom to feature stand-out artwork that represents your style. You’ll be making a statement and creating a sense of individuality without taking up too much space. Using pops of colour in this way gives the impression of a far larger area.

Wollongong Design Studio

Who they are: Taking a different approach to traditional interior design studios, Wollongong Design Studio offer workshops and courses to amateur decorators so they can take ownership of the process of transforming their living spaces.

Live large: Wollongong Design Studio recommends using not only a blend of carefully considered colours, but also textures to create depth in an interior.

Style your space: Think about which beautifully tactile artworks, objects and textiles you can add that will create an element of interest to your apartment. The design duo who started the studio, also recommend plants as a way to incorporate texture and breathe life into urban pads.

Colour Interior Exterior

Who they are: The driving force behind Colour Interior Exterior is Christine McCoy, a colourist with 18 years’ experience in the field. She has collaborated on a number of large new build projects and runs regular workshops for architects and designers.

Live large: Christine’s advice for small apartment dwellers can be summarised in one word, ‘Plan!’ she says. Take stock of the way the light enters your apartment and find colours that work with that.

Style your space: Use colour in coordination with the natural light in your apartment. Plan out what storage you need, what furniture will fit and then tackle colour. This will help you achieve a cohesive uncluttered look.

SmartSpace Interiors

Who they are: SmartSpace Interiors are all too familiar with small spaces, with most projects consisting of private residences in the densely populated city of Sydney. Run by Anoushka Allum, their portfolio includes everything from single rooms to complete new builds.

Live large: Allum recommends the use of lighter colours not just on your walls, but also throughout the entire décor. Softly hued furniture, wall paper and flooring will reflect all available light.

Style your space: If your favourite colours are bright, happy tones, consider restraining the use of these to small collectables and soft furnishing like lamps and cushions. The majority of your apartment should be a canvas off which light can refract.

CLU Living

Who they are: Design-obsessed CLU Living offers home furnishings for compact living. Their smart and stylish furniture and accessories are a mix of international brands and their own line produced in Melbourne, which incorporates local products wherever possible.

Live large: Mirrors should be used in the main living area to visually expand the space, suggest the designers at CLU Living. Also consider minimising the interruption of light by incorporating glass-topped tables into your plan.

Style your space: CLU Living offers up one of its own pieces as a way to optimise the light in your apartment. The Meridian Console Mirror takes up next to no room in a narrow hallway or entrance and has a handy compartment to store small everyday objects like keys and sunglasses.

Brilliant Design Concepts

Known for their innovative bespoke joinery solutions, Brilliant Design Concepts integrates construction with its interior designs. With 18 years’ experience, the company has built a solid reputation alongside their clever installations.

Live large: The studio rightly points out that even in a country as expansive as Australia, ‘space is becoming a shrinking commodity’. They recommend using lighting to create interchangeable zones in your living areas.

Style your space: To create a relaxed and comfortable home consider not only the placement of lighting, but also the style. A bright spotlight on a feature artwork might work well, but you’ll want a gentle puddle of low-wattage beams in your favourite reading corner.

Milan Direct

Who they are: Taking its name from one of the style capitals of the world, Milan Direct built its furniture empire on the idea of making great design accessible to Australia. The country’s largest online furniture supplier has solutions for everything from rugs to lighting and everything that fits in between.

Live large: ‘Mirrors and plants are your friends’, say the masterminds behind the emporium. This winning combination adds depth to a space, with the added bonus of bringing peace and serenity to a home.

Style your space: The choice is up to you, add a few small succulents on a shelf in front of your favourite mirror, or prop a full-length mirror behind your favourite fern. Both will open up your place and create an aura of zen in your apartment.

Furniture Bazaar

Who they are: As their name suggests, Furniture Bazaar has a cavalcade of different furnishings available in an eclectic mix of styles and concepts suitable for any interior space. Get inspiration on how to work your small space at their seven brick and mortar stores.

Live large: The furniture emporium shares a lesson on what not to do. They advise you to ‘avoid anything with elaborate designs or dark colours as these will close down your space.’ Neutral colours are your new best friend.

Style your space: Make your favourite colour work to your advantage, by incorporating a colourful splashback in your kitchen. Keep the cabinets neutral and install a white benchtop and porcelain sink to offset the burst of colour and give the illusion of more space.

Bettina Deda

Bettina Deda is a colour design visionary who offers clients a niche service of downsizing from their family homes in style. Deda is so passionate about embracing the next chapter in life, that she has published a book on the topic, Downsize with Style.

Live large: For Deda, visualising interior ideas is of the utmost importance. To create a comfortable space, the colour palette needs to go beyond matching the size of a space. It has to match your personal taste as well.

Style your space: A mood board will help you understand how your chosen colours will work together before the paintbrush makes contact with the walls. If you are dealing with limited space, careful colour selection is important so take the time to try different options and keep tweaking until you have a visual concept you are confident with.

You deserve to live large no matter how much square meterage you have. Using the secrets of Australia’s interior masterminds can help you leverage light and colour in a compact space, to help you achieve your design dreams.