Marci and Dan Clark (and their cat Maude) live in a teeny tiny Manhattan apartment, where they’ve managed to maximize every square inch. Here are their 13 smart tips for decorating a small space…

Marci and Dan Clark (and their cat Maude) live in a teeny tiny Manhattan apartment, where they’ve managed to maximize every square inch. Here are their 13 smart tips for decorating a small space…

1. Don’t be afraid of color and scale. Bright colors, bold patterns and large furniture can work surprisingly well in a small space. “Grand items make a space feel bigger,” explains Marci, “and bold wallpaper can either help define walls or make them disappear. Just go for it!” This wallpaper is from Anthropologie.

2. Use mirrors to make a space feel bigger and brighter. The larger the mirror, the better. “We found this mirror at an antique shop in upstate New York,” says Marci. “We wrapped it in cardboard, put it on the roof of our car and drove it home in the rain. By the time we got home, the cardboard had disintegrated, but the mirror was fine!”

3. Bookcases are a small-space savior. When it comes to artful storage, nothing is better than a bookcase—it’s both decor and storage. “They hold so much,” says Marci. The couple started with a base of Ikea bookshelves and built custom shelves on top.

4. Sneak in storage wherever you can. Pepper your bookshelves with pretty bins to store photos or trinkets. Marci’s favorites are these fabric-covered boxes.

5. Invest in beautiful supplies. In a small space, you see everything all the time, so it helps to have pretty everyday objects. Marci recommends See Jane Work, an online store with elegant office supplies.

6. Hide things that are not beautiful. You’ll inevitably have a few things you’d rather not look at all the time. For Marci, this was the TV. “I would have gotten rid of it, but we do love our shows,” she laughs. Dan installed a motorized slide behind the bookcase—the TV is normally stored behind the shelves, and when it’s time to watch a show, they press a button and the TV slides down.

7. Use rugs to create distinct areas. Break up a room into separate spaces—living, dining, office, kitchen—using differently colored rugs. This flower rug is from Anthropologie, where Marci worked in college: “The job taught me to be bold and eclectic when decorating,” she says.

8. Display practical items in a pretty way. In the kitchen, which has limited storage, Marci’s tools are perpetually on display. “I tend to gravitate towards really utilitarian kitchen supplies,” she says. “I especially love stainless steel—it’s pretty enough to leave out but will last forever.”

9. Hang art that inspires you. Family photos infuse a small space with warmth. To create this photo wall, “we made a grid with string,” Marci explains. “Once the grid was up, it was easy to mount the photos on the wall.”

10. Find a spot for your shoes. Shoes can clutter up a small entryway. As a solution, Marci and Dan store them in IKEA shoe cabinets that are only 6″ deep. To help the cabinet blend into the space, the couple painted it the same blue as the hallway walls and outfitted it with Anthropologie hardware.

11. Create light where there is none. Marci and Dan’s bedroom is on the basement level with no windows or natural light. “When we moved in, the room was really dark, so we put a bunch of lights in the room—on both sides of and over the bed,” says Marci. The couple also hung silvery wallpaper from Target behind the bed: “It has a beautiful sheen that helps reflect light into the rest of the room.”

12. Keep clothes and accessories on rotation. Store out-of-season items to maximize closet space. “Everything in our closets is stored in bins and labeled with stickers,” Marci explains. “Our summer clothes are in bins now, and our winter clothes are on hangers.”

13. Don’t be afraid to get rid of stuff. Selling or donating goods keeps a space from becoming too cluttered. “In a small space, you can’t be precious about your belongings,” says Marci. “If it’s not working, get rid of it.”

Thank you so much, Marci and Dan! Any tips you would add? xoxo

P.S. Another couple’s 15 tips for sharing a small apartment (and not driving each other crazy), and a family’s playful 500-square-foot apartment.

(Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo. Interview by Caroline Donofrio)