7 easy small space refreshers

nicoles apartment2

Dago and I have been co-habitating apartment-dwellers for going on three years now, and our apartment has looked almost exactly the same since we moved in. When we decided to shack up, we simply moved all of our furniture from our separate lives together into one apartment and called it good. Having both lived separately, and me having previously lived alone, we both had a couch, a chair, a TV stand, a side table, a desk, etc. The only piece of furniture we've actually purchased together is our coffee table, a large, round, wooden table with a bottom shelf cluttered with J.Crew catalogs and copies of our alma mater's magazine that come in the mail.

Looking at our living room, we have several large pieces of furniture: the coffee table, a long vintage floral couch, a wide cream-colored love seat, a giant wooden shelf used as a TV stand, a thinner mid-century shelf used to hold DVDs and such, and a six-foot cat castle. We also have a tall lamp, a coat rack, and two big pieces of art, plus a wall that's just a fireplace. All of this to say, we have a small space with a lot. of. stuff.

And this never really bothered me, until recently. I am suddenly in major nesting mode for the first time in my life. My entire Pinterest has turned into interior design madness and I am legitimately dreaming of couches in my sleep. I unfortunately don't have the time or funds to totally re-do our space or to move into a perfect little house with beautiful light, but there are a few things I've done that made me fall in love with my space all over again.

nicoles apartment1

1. remove a piece of furniture | We ended up getting rid of both our coat rack and the giant wooden shelf, freeing up a ton of room along the main wall. We weren't really using the coat rack for coats, just a few rarely-used bags and a soccer scarf or two. The wooden shelf was something Dago picked up from his old band space that we've been using as a TV stand, but I've always hated it! I think I used to have this idea that I needed to hold onto every piece of furniture I owned because someday I might want it, but that just caused me to keep stuff I didn't like or need (or have room for!). I'm so glad both are gone!

2. replace a large piece with smaller ones | In getting rid of the big shelf, we scooted over the mid-century shelf and put the TV on top with the DVR and XBox on the two shelves. At first we used a tall bar stool to hold the router and modem as a temporary option, but I ended up loving the way it looks and we decided to keep it there. Something about having the two smaller pieces of furniture instead of one big one adds a little visual interest, as well as some much-needed white space. In another big-for-small swap, we got rid of a big painting I did a while back that said "Home is where the pants aren't" that hung above the TV and we're replacing it with an art wall of smaller pieces we both love. So far we just have a show poster from a concert we went to back in 2012, but I'm hoping to get a hanging banner like one of these and a few other pieces to hang.

3. hang a shelf (or two!) | To the left of the television and its new stand situation, we hung two wooden shelves from Ikea. Since these shelves are just to the right of the door, there's now a ton of open space that used to be crowded by a coat rack, floor lamp, and the mid-century shelf. Something about not having another piece of furniture makes the whole room feel so much bigger, plus I have two whole shelves I can style now with whatever I want!

4.  flip your books | This is such a small change that for me made a big visual difference. For a few years now I've had my own bookshelf organized by color (much like this), but changing up some of my books from being shelved upwards to laying on their side has made for a more deliberately aesthetically pleasing look. I also chose a few of our favorite books to put on the new wall shelves, and they're strategically stacked beneath plants and next to a picture frame.

5. add some plants | Speaking of plants, what a game changer! You know that I bought a big snake plant back in August, but I picked up a couple of small cacti (in these pots) for our shelves and they're just so cheery! I also bought a vintage vase at a flea market that has me grabbing fresh flowers every time I go to the grocery. It's true what they say, fresh flowers are an instant source of happiness!

6. move your light sources | I was surprised at how much moving our lamps around changed the feeling of the room. We have a big glass vintage lamp that used to sit on the mid-century shelf, but now that that's got the TV on it, we had to move it. The lamp now sits on an entry table against another wall so the light is coming from behind us/beside us instead of right in front of us. It's super calming! We also moved our beloved little Ikea Knubbig lamp onto the top shelf and it's just a little orb of glowing happiness up there.

7. try a new candle | There is nothing better than a great smelling home, is there? Even when it's a mess, if it smells nice, I can relax. (Hm, that reminds me of those gross Febreze commercials!) Dago and I are big fans of the Glade candles, and we pick one up every weekend at the grocery, usually in Clean Linen or Angel Whispers. However, I like to switch things up every once in a while, so next time I'm at Anthropologie I plan to pick up this one. Even if you can't rearrange your space in a big way, changing the smell can make a refreshing impact! (Bonus: we bought this ballin' candle holder and it looks SO COOL when the candle is lit and the room is dark while we're watching TV at night!)

So there you have it! One weekend, two new shelves, a couple of cacti, and some quality time with my boyfriend and an electric drill were all I needed to feel completely refreshed in my space and fall in love with my apartment all over again. I expect us to live here quite a while longer, so it's good to know that I don't need to go throwing all my furniture out to feel like my home is keeping up with me. (Plus, now I can focus my attention and funds on someday getting one of these!)

How do you get new life out of an old space?

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