Interior Design Tips & Tricks for Renters

Decorating Down to a Fine Art: Ways to Incorporate Art in a Small Apartment

Art comes in many different shapes and sizes, and it means something different to each of us. But, whether you value expensive flat artworks — like oil paintings or framed original comic books — or etchings and sculptures are more your style, art should not be limited by space, and that goes for our living spaces, as well. What’s more, weaving art into your small apartment is an art in and of itself, and living in a studio apartment or a one-bedroom doesn’t mean you can’t let your artistic flag fly.

So, if you rent a cozy space and are at a loss for how to incorporate art into it, we’re here to help! Below are some quick tips that prove that adding art into small living spaces is definitely doable and to extremely satisfying results.

Make a statement

Let’s start with the obvious: Big art in a small space usually does the trick. Statement pieces are those that are larger in size or draw attention to themselves either through color or sheer volume. Be it hung art or pieces that require their own space such as sculptures, statement pieces become focal points, so use them in moderation. That’s because their role is to be eye-catching and create a dramatic effect, so too many might clash.

Namely, one or two statement pieces should do the trick — as long as they’re placed in different areas of the living space. Additionally, small art pieces can also become statement items when they’re the only ones displayed. However, this can be quite difficult to achieve when you’re dealing with limited space that also needs to be functional.

Go up, higher up

If there’s one thing to learn from living in a studio apartment, it’s that every inch of free space counts — even that which is right below the ceiling. As such, stacking your art vertically not only creates an interesting and eye-catching art corner, but also gives the illusion of a lengthened space. For instance, place small pieces of art on high shelves and consider decorating narrow spaces like hallways, corners or otherwise unused space on your walls.

Moreover, mounting art vertically instead of lining it horizontally tricks the eye and elongates the height of the room — so, make the most of that high ceiling. While you’re at it, you can also take advantage of the ceiling itself, assuming the art and location fit the overall style of the room.

When in doubt, scatter art

A single gallery wall is typically the go-to when decorating, no matter the size of your rental. However, a gallery wall in a smaller space can weigh down the room and could create a claustrophobic effect. Plus, focusing all of your art in one particular spot can take away from the effect of each individual piece in your collection. This is why scattering the art around a small home is often a better solution — and that includes unexpected areas like the bathroom or entryway. So, small-scale art or pieces that have the same theme tend to work better here.

Design around it

Although living in a smaller apartment might not come with as many blank walls as you’d hope for, it does come with a lot of potential. First, assess the type of art you already own and design the rest of the living space around it. For example, your pastel art or tapestries could go wonderfully with boho furniture designs, etchings and earth-toned paintings to create a rustic vibe around the house. Similarly, comic book printouts and pencil drawings can really stand out in an industrial-style environment. You chose your art because it speaks to you. Now, take it a step further and help it create a home that reflects who you are.

Make everyday life your art

Framed personal photos, printouts of movie posters and artsy trinkets have one thing in common — they make your apartment truly yours. So, because renting a smaller unit may mean scaling down in the artistic department, why not make art out of personal items that echo your true self?

Specifically, grouping a collection of smaller pieces creates a sense of unity, so relieve some of the potential decorative chaos by grouping your knick-knacks and separating your flea market finds by category. This means keeping sports memorabilia away from porcelain baubles and separating your keepsakes and heirlooms from the toy figurines. Likewise, using the same type of frames for your photos and collages as those on your canvas, paintings and even mirrors can bring a small space together and create a more cohesive overall design.

No matter the square footage, the place you live in should reflect the real you. Whether you make use of these tips or simply let the art guide you when decorating, there’s only so much art one can fit in a small place, so make it count.

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About the author

Alexandra Ciuntu

Alexandra is a creative writer and researcher for RENTCafé. With a background in e-learning content writing and a passion for knowledge-sharing platforms, she has previously covered topics from prop-tech to renters insurance. She now enjoys researching and writing about the renting lifestyle, renter demographic shifts, and residential real estate market trends and news. You can connect with Alexandra via email.

Alexandra’s work includes collaborations with financial and business publications. Her articles have been featured in several national and international online publications, including the New York Times, Barrons, Inman, Marketwatch, Bisnow, Curbed, and Her educational background includes a B.A. in Japanese and English and an M.A. in Journalism and Cultural Studies.

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