How to Buy Furniture For A Small Apartment

Small apartments have a lot of advantages. They’re usually more affordable and energy-efficient. They’re easier to keep clean. And, it’s cheaper to furnish and decorate them!

In fact, the only disadvantage to a small place is that there isn’t as much storage space. But if you think strategically and creatively, you can easily fix this problem.

One of the ways to add more room in a smaller apartment is to be choosy with your furniture. When you shop for furnishings, use these simple techniques to make the most out of your space.

1. Start With the Essentials

You probably have a list in mind of furniture pieces you want to buy. Moving is fun and exciting! You have tons of ideas of what you want to do to your new place, and you can’t wait to get started.

We all want to fill our homes with comfy furnishings and invite friends and family over to entertain. But having a small apartment means you have to be more discerning with what you actually buy.

When you approach your shopping list with an organized method, you will save time and money by avoiding things that won’t fit right.

Start by writing down the pieces you’ve dreamed of owning, and then go through the list. Move anything that isn’t a must-have to a “wish list.” It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to have them. It just means you need to wait for a bigger place or see how much room you have after the “musts” are taken care of.

Your list of necessities should include the essentials:

A place to sleep, something to eat on, and a place to entertain and relax. 

As you live in your apartment, other necessities will become apparent. You can pick them up gradually. But if you go off the “things you want” list, you’re going to be cramming unnecessary items into your limited space.

2. Take Measurements

You’ve narrowed down your furniture shopping list to the bare necessities, and you’re ready for the fun part. Before you walk out the door or start adding things to your online shopping cart, there’s a step you should cover first.

The last thing you want to do is buy an expensive piece of furniture, only to find out it won’t fit. Instead of stressfully shoving everything into place, take two minutes to plan ahead and get some measurements. 

Grab a tape measure, pencil, and notebook. Measure the spots where you want each piece of furniture to go. Write down the measurements and refer back to them as you shop.

Try to avoid filling the entire spot with your new furniture. For example, if the area is 36 inches by 18 inches, look for furniture slightly smaller than that. You don’t want your home to look crammed with furniture.

Keep in mind the drawers or cabinet doors and how far they’ll need to be able to open if you have a tight space.

3. Look for Dual-Purpose Furnishings

Since your space is restricted, the more furniture you get that serves multiple purposes, the better. And with so many people prioritizing efficiency now, you’ll have a lot to choose from.

Shoppers don’t have to sacrifice style for functionality anymore. You can find dual-purpose furnishings for all your essentials, like:

  • Murphy beds that fold up against the wall when they’re not in use
  • Storage ottomans to hide your clutter, relax your feet on, and use as a chair for company
  • Daybeds that double as couches or beds for guests

If you haven’t done any furniture shopping in a while, you might be amazed at the functional and stylish options you have.

4. Consider Your Color Scheme and Other Tricks

Think about the colors you want in each room. If you enjoy walnut and mahogany-type designs, you might want to think about what they’ll do to a small room. Dark furniture makes any area seem smaller, even if it’s already spacious!

Try to use neutrals or brightly colored furniture to trick the eye into seeing the space as bigger than it is. Then, use these additional tips for more optical illusions:

  • Scale down the furniture by leaving space between the sides of each piece and the wall.
  • Choose furniture that is low to the ground or open underneath the cushion, shelves, or mattress.
  • Use blinds or shutters on your windows instead of curtains and drapes to keep the “open” look.
  • If you must have an area rug, get a small one with a simple design.

Whatever you use, be sure to arrange everything so that there is an easy, unobstructed pathway in every room. When you’re bumping into things or feeling cramped, it makes the area feel even smaller.

5. Take a Gradual Approach

It’s totally normal to want to furnish your apartment ASAP. But shopping for everything at once usually means you’re going to either get too much or not enough of the basics.

Start with the essential pieces first. You’ve already listed and measured out space for the main items. Everything else can come gradually.

Slowly, you’ll figure out where you want to put things like lamps, stands, and shelves. If you overload the room with furniture first, you might not be able to fit these little helpful side pieces.

When you make room for things that help you get organized, you’ll quickly see the benefits. You might even start to consider the accessories more critical in a small apartment than the furniture you decided to wait on!


As you decorate and furnish your apartment, focus on the advantages that you have in your new home. If you arrange your belongings right, you’ll spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your place!

With strategic thinking and careful shopping, you can have plenty of storage space and a fashionable apartment. Functionality, style, and your own personal touch mix when you use these furniture-buying tips.

Author bio
Ryan Sundling is a group marketing manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the conventional housing industry and works with The Ruckus to help them with their marketing efforts.