How to get the most function out of your small D.C. apartment

If you’ve ever wondered how you can possibly live comfortably in your tiny apartment, you’re not alone. During the past decade, rents have risen 28% for most cities, but spaces have shrunk nationwide.

That means that more people than ever before are living in small, urban apartments. In the Mid-Atlantic, the average size of a rental apartment is 877 square feet. That’s not exactly roomy.

Whether you’ve just moved into a small space or you’re trying to sell or rent out your smallapartment, there are some simple ways you can make it look and feel bigger.

In this article, I’m sharing my best interior design tips for getting the most function out of your small apartment.

How to make a small apartment look bigger

Keep colors neutral, light and consistent

Paint each room the same color, ideally a light shade like beige or eggshell. This way, transitions from room to room feel seamless. This is important because different wall colors for every room create a visual divide that can highlight how small each section of your apartment is.

For the same reason, choose accessories in a similar neutral shade. That includes rugs, throw pillows, blankets, furniture and wall art. And if you have the opportunity to update your flooring, opt for tiles or carpeting in a similar neutral shade.

Light-colored walls throughout your small apartment can make your space feel more open. Photo from Unsplash.

Hang mirrors on your walls

You’ve probably heard before that mirrors can make spaces look bigger, and it’s true. A few large mirrors in place of wall art can help your tiny apartment feel less cramped.

When possible, use mirrored doors for closets for a chance to incorporate a floor-length mirror in your main living spaces.

Add lighting wherever possible

Well-lit spaces feel bigger than dark rooms. Especially if your apartment has terrible natural light, you can install additional lighting to give your rooms some dimension.

This can include recessed lighting, undercabinet lighting and floor lamps.

Choose simple and organic-feeling furniture

Furniture pieces that have slightly round shapes can help your space feel more harmonious. Stay clear of loud patterns or complex designs. That’s because statement pieces can overwhelm a small space quickly.

I recommend choosing acrylic furniture—also known as ghost furniture. The minimalist style of acrylic pieces helps furniture disappear into the background of your small space.

Acrylic furniture, like this bookshelf, can make your small space feel light and airy. Photo from Pinterest.

Get rid of your drapes or curtains

If your apartment is tiny, you don’t want visually heavy drapes closing in. Plus, you want to encourage as much light as possible to come through your windows. Instead of drapes, invest in blinds for each of your windows.

How to make your small space more functional

Get furniture with hidden storage

In tiny apartments, you likely don’t have the luxury of spacious closets or cabinets. You can make up for this by choosing furniture that does double the work with hidden storage space.

For your coffee table, you could use a large chest with plenty of space inside. The same goes for end tables or side tables. When choosing a bed, look for frames with built-in storage underneath.

Install pocket doors

A pocket door is a door that slides to open. This can be a major space-saver for small apartments. You can leave your pocket doors open without compromising any space in an adjoining room.

Pocket doors slide into your wall, so they don’t take up any precious space! Photo from Pinterest.

Make sure your furniture is apartment-sized

Large furniture will only make your space harder to move around in. Instead, look for pieces that are slightly smaller than average, or that are designed especially for small spaces. For example, choose a full bed instead of a queen or king and small sofa chairs instead of a full-sized couch.

Build shelving for extra storage

Common opportunities for out-of-the-way shelving include underneath the stairs, above your bed and above the sink in your bathroom or kitchen. You can use shelving to replace floor-standing furniture like end tables, side tables and even dressers or countertops.

Get drop-leaf tables and desks + stackable chairs

Drop-leaf furniture has sections that can fold out. This means you can make your surfaces bigger when you have guests. Add folding chairs that are easily stackable to save space in your kitchen or dining room when you’re not using them.

Drop leaf tables can hang flat against your wall when not in use. Perfect for small kitchens. Photo from The Kitchn.

Be organized & reduce your stuff

In small spaces it’s important that every item has its place, because you just don’t have room for clutter. In addition, every item should have a clear purpose. You don’t have space for things you don’t need or clothes you’ve outgrown.

Home organization expert Marie Kondo advocates for organizing by categories like clothing, books, papers and sentimental items. Pick each item up and evaluate how you feel—if it doesn’t “spark joy,” then discard it.


How to deal with common small space challenges

Challenge #1: You wish your apartment had an additional room

You may want another room to use as a home office or guest room, but your small apartment leaves little opportunity for building in an extra room.

Instead, you can opt for using permanent or temporary room dividers to give guests or yourself some privacy. If your apartment has high ceilings, you can construct a mezzanine floor, which is like a loft, to serve as a semi-private office or bedroom.

Adding a mezzanine floor to your apartment gets the feel of a separate bedroom or office. Photo from Pinterest.

Challenge #2: You don’t have space for a dining table

A lot of small apartments have a kitchen and living room, but no proper place for a dining table. Many people don’t want to eat dinner on their couch every night—and they also don’t want to have a table in the center of their living space.

If this is your situation, you should look for a wall-mounted drop leaf table. This way, your dining table can be tucked smoothly against your wall when not in use.

Challenge #3: There’s no place to store bulkier items

Not everything you need has a daily function. For example, you have some extra pillows and blankets on hand for guests, or you want to store your big winter coats away when the weather gets warmer.

When you simply have no additional storage space, you can use vacuum bags to reduce the size of your clothing and bedding. Then, you can easily tuck it under your bed or at the back of a closet.

Challenge #4: You don’t have a closet

Especially if you’re trying to sell or rent out your small apartment, having no bedroom closet can be a deal breaker for many buyers and renters. It’s best to be proactive about offering an alternative that won’t take up too much precious space.

I recommend installing an open rack and shelving unit. In addition, a tall bookcase could serve as shelving for accessories or shoes.

Not having a bedroom closet can be a deal breaker for renters or home buyers. Stage your home with open shelving to proactively offer a solution–and save your sale! Photo from Pretty Designs.

Above all, focus on natural light, organization and function

Each space is unique, so you should experiment with the strategies I’ve included here to determine what’s best for your small apartment. You might even come up with your own ways to save space.

If you’re finding it overwhelming to know where to start, when it comes to small spaces, there are three guidelines you need to remember to guide every decorating decision: encourage natural light, be very organized and opt for functional pieces over purely decorative.

If you’re interested in staging your small apartment to sell—fast—contact us for a consultation.

10 Elegant Winter Decorations (Not Christmas) Ideas

To Get Your Home Ready to Sell in Winter


Cold weather interior decorating involves so much more than just putting up an artificial Christmas tree and tacking some lights around your house.

If you’re putting your house on the market this winter, you are probably well aware that winter is the “worst” time to sell your house. Why? Bad weather in many parts of the country (yes, especially Washington D.C.) discourages people from venturing out to showings. Plus, just like in the fall, people tend to be busier than they are during the warmer months, leaving them less time to think about a big move.

But the cold temperatures also provide a great opportunity to show potential buyers the cozy, warm home your house can be for them. After all, what says home more than a roaring fireplace, flickering candlelight and just a hint of Christmas?

10 Elegant Winter Decoration (Not Christmas) Ideas


1. Focus on the fireplace.

Arrange your living room seating to face the fireplace, and then decorate the mantel. You can do Christmas décor here if you’d like, or you can opt for a more winter-neutral style.

 I like adding a couple of large hurricane candle holders and candles, and filling in the space between with white and green fresh flowers like Poinsettia, Paperwhites or Amaryllis. Flowers not your style? Fresh garland is always an easy, elegant solution, or you can choose a few of your favorite crystal vases and fill them with pine cones, dried fruits like lemon, orange slices and pomegranate, or fresh cinnamon sticks.


2. Skip the religious décor this year.

There’s no way of knowing what your potential buyers will be celebrating this time of year, and you don’t want to risk alienating them. Instead of a prominently placed menorah or nativity set, a beautiful arrangement of flowers and greenery would do the trick. Check out these neutral Christmas decoration ideas by Traditional Home for more inspiration.


3. Make sure your Christmas tree isn’t overwhelming.

Plenty of people, especially families, love hunting down the biggest tree they can find and then spending the weeks leading up to Christmas piling gifts underneath it. But when you’re trying to help potential buyers envision your house as their future home, an imposing, cluttered Christmas tree can look jarring. Just for this year, go for a smaller tree than usual—and definitely make sure there is space to easily walk around it.


4. Include soft, snugly fabrics.

Update your pillows, throws and rugs to be extra-cozy. That means plush fabrics, faux fur and velvet. And don’t forget about a well-placed fleece or wool throw.



5. Be sparing with scents.

It’s tempting to pull out all the stops when it comes to wintertime scents. A bowl of potpourri, an evergreen-scented diffuser in every room and all your candles—why not? However, when it comes to scent, less is actually more. All that’s necessary to create a delicate scent throughout your house is a couple of your favorite, scent-complementary candles. You don’t even need to light them; just open the lid and the scent should naturally disperse.


6. Keep your windows clear.

Something about the winter season makes us eager to decorate our windows (maybe it’s nostalgia for frosty windows on a cold winter morning?). There’s a lot of “Christmas window decoration” advice out there, usually involving wreaths. But… when you’re trying to show your house in its best light, it’s important that your décor isn’t blocking any natural light from getting in. So decorate your walls and mantels, but keep your windows clear.


7. Don’t forget about curb appeal.

Curb appeal (what potential buyers see when they first walk up) is incredibly important when it comes to selling your house successfully. And during cold winter months, it’s even more important, because more buyers than ever will probably be opting to search online before making the trek out to see the place in person. You want to be sure first impressions—both in person and online—are strong.

Winter outdoor decorations don’t have to be complicated. A simple, tasteful wreath on the front door can do a lot to make your house feel alive and inviting on a cold day.


8. Choose an elegant color palette.

 Don’t go overboard on green, red and silver or gold. Too much “Christmas color” can end up looking tacky. Additionally, your winter décor should highlight your existing décor, fitting in seamlessly.


9. Make your dining table stand out with a beautiful centerpiece.

The dining room or kitchen is the heart of the home, where many people spend most of their time indoors. Therefore, including a truly stunning centerpiece can help this room feel put-together and homey. I like to use fresh greens like cedar, magnolia, olive leaf and myrtle, as well as candles and fruits such as pomegranate or apples. Check out other natural, DIY winter centerpiece ideas on Pinterest.


10. Add luxury and light to your space with mirrors.

As the days get shorter and darker, winter interiors must rely on more than just a strand or two of elegant Christmas lights to feel warm, airy and filled with light. It might sound silly, but incorporating shiny objects and mirrors into your decoration can really boost the impression of size and light in your space. Not to mention, it’s a great way to infuse a sense of luxury into your house, which means potential buyers feel your house is worth more.


Selling your house in winter in D.C. might be more challenging than when the temperatures aren’t freezing cold, but strategic decorating can help you transform your dark winter hideaway into a contemporary, cozy and inviting space for potential buyers.

If you’d rather leave the decorating to the professionals, contact us for a hassle-free home-staging process to sell your home (even in the winter!) fast.

8 Reasons Home-Staging your Washington D.C. Home is Worth It

bedroom designYou want to sell your home fast and for as much money as possible, that’s a given. But you might be wondering if it’s really worth it to invest in staging your home before selling it. After all, isn’t that just more money you’re spending? We’re going to show you why most real estate agents across greater Washington D.C. recommend their clients hire certified home stagers, and how it saves them time, stress, and most importantly, money. Read on for TACTIC’s top 8 reasons home-staging is worth it.

Subscribe for more great tips on home staging as well.

You get more money
Hiring a certified home stager is the second-best investment you can make during the home selling process. The statistics don’t lie: staged homes sell at an average of 6.32% over the list price, while un-staged homes sell at a mere 1.6% over the list price. For a home listed at $500,000, that’s a difference of nearly $24,000!

You sell your home faster
It may seem obvious, but it’s true: the longer your home stays on the market, the less it eventually sells for. The National Association of Realtors surveyed and found that homes that sold in the first 4 weeks averaged 1% more than the list price, but at 4 to 12 weeks, the buying price averaged 5% less than the list price…. and by the time your home’s been on the market for 24 weeks, statistics say that it will probably have dropped more than 10% lower than list price. Staging your home could cut the time it spends on the market in half—garnering you thousands of dollars more.

You get a huge return on investment
Home staging costs between a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand, depending on the size of the property. But when you’re talking about an average ROI of 586% (yes, you read that right, 586%!), the initial payout is miniscule.

You leverage what buyers want to see
Home staging companies like TACTIC always have their finger on the pulse of the real estate market. We know what motivates a sale. Most home sellers don’t. For one thing, it’s hard to see your home objectively after you’ve spent years building a life there. For another, most home sellers aren’t interior designers. Hiring a certified home stager with expert knowledge in both interior design and real estate is the most effective way to ensure that each room in your home is packaged for maximum appeal to the greatest pool of buyers.

You tap into the online market
Did you know that 95% of home buyers look at homes online before they decide to visit? You should. Having professional photographs of your home to post online (think: Zillow, or Trulia) is an incredible way to boost traffic to your property. TACTIC includes professional photographs of staged rooms with our packages, and so do many home staging companies. You’ll have potential buyers drooling over your well-lit, airy, impeccably designed place before they even step foot inside.

You undercut the competition from the get-go
The real estate market is notoriously competitive. Staging your apartment or home before selling is the simplest way to set your property apart. Successful agents know that the key to competing is professional staging, because it creates compelling online presentations, drives buyer traffic to the home, and turns prospects into buyers.

You don’t have to be a salesperson
“So, what is that room for? …. Er, the flow from the kitchen to the living room seems a little odd… Oh, we’d have to repaint all these walls, I guess.” If you’ve ever sold a home before, these sorts of comments probably sound eerily familiar, and the people making them are not exactly pumped up about your house. In fact, only 10% of home buyers are able to visualize the potential of a home when it’s empty, which means they’re going need a top-notch salesperson to ‘help’ them imagine it. However, if your property is strategically staged to highlight the best of each room, you won’t have to answer to comments like these—your home will do it for you.

You can relax, at least a little
Selling your home is stressful. It can be a huge relief to have expert home stagers like TACTIC actively working to prepare your home to sell, so it’s not all on you. At TACTIC, we manage the home staging process from start to finish (or you can opt for our do-it-yourself option), so you can focus on finding your new home, instead of worrying if you’ve done everything you can to prepare your house or apartment to sell.