Small apartments can easily feel claustrophobic. But this needn’t be the case. We asked three experts to share some design ideas that create an illusion of space without losing that much-needed element of luxe.

Design element: Rugs
Expert: Charles Gonsenhauser, owner of Gonsenhausers Fine Rugs
The goal: One of the most important aspects is to choose the right-sized rug. You can either use smaller rugs to define different areas or a larger rug to ground the space.

Size matters

A rule of thumb is that all furniture pieces should fit onto the rug. An acceptable alternative is that the front feet of bigger furniture pieces, such as your sofa, should rest on the rug.

Gonsenhausers Exclusive Splash Design rug. Interior by Kyle Roux.

Colour on cue

Lighter shades make a room feel bigger, as they reflect both natural and artificial light. So open up your space by choosing a rug in lighter tones of your favourite colour.

Gonsenhausers Vintage Reloaded rug. Interior by Kyle Roux.

Pattern play all the way

With patterned rugs, the size of the pattern should be in proportion with the room’s dimensions. While this is no hard and fast rule, larger-patterned rugs are for larger rooms.

Interior by J-P de la Chaumette featuring Gonsenhausers patterned rug.

TIP: Rules are there to be broken. Bold-patterned rugs can pack a punch in small spaces, provided you follow a clean-lined, uncluttered design narrative.

Design element: Lighting
The expert: Guy Harris of Newport Lighting
The goal: A skillful mix of clever lighting sources can add a sense of depth and dimension to pint-sized spaces.

On the right track

Track lighting is the most ergonomic and hardest-working lighting option for small spaces. Its ceiling installation allows for more room at floor level. Plus, it offers flexibility in terms of configuration. Direct the light wherever you require it to create task lighting, spotlights and ambient lighting.

Faro track lighting, available from Newport Lighting.

Mix and match

Standing, table and clamp lamps, as well as wall lights, are essential space-saving lighting solutions in tight spaces.

Astro Atelier clamp light from Newport Lighting.

NIT wall light by Faro, available from Newport Lighting.

Wall and all

Wall-mounted lights are savvy solutions to maximising floorspace. Long-armed and adjustable options allow you to direct the light where it’s required.

Astro Ascoli single mounted wall light by Hannah Simmons, available from Newport Lighting.
Art lighting adds ambience and a sense of intimacy to a space. Plus it helps showcase your artworks.

Astro Goya art light, available from Newport Lighting.

Design elements: Furniture and accessories
The expert: Alon Sachs, co-owner of Mobelli Furniture + Living
The goal: One of the biggest mistakes is to clutter tight spaces with tiny furniture pieces. Fewer larger-scaled pieces will make the space look bigger and feel more functional.

Choose a well-designed sofa

A cosy L-shape sofa is a must, especially for long or narrow spaces. Just make sure it’s not too bulky.

Onassis l-shape sofa, Dune coffee tables, console table and sofa table, available from Mobelli Furniture + Living.

Another great option is the modern glammed up version of the sleeper couch. With new design techniques and available materials, sleeper couches have drastically improved in comfort and style.

Oxford sleeper couch, available from Mobelli Furniture + Living.

Tip: In terms of colour, a neutral sofa doesn’t take up too much visual space and creates a sense of cohesion. Don’t forget to add a few scatter cushions to create a warm, cosy feeling.

Take a multi-purpose approach

Dual-purpose furniture pieces are worth their weight in gold. Nesting tables do double duty as coffee tables and side tables. Plus these striking visual centre pieces can easily be moved around when needed.

Ludlow sofa, Gramercy cabinet and Tribeca tables, available from Mobelli Furniture + Living

Tip: Be bold and skip coffee and side tables altogether and add an ottoman or two. These versatile furniture pieces can be transformed into a coffee table or as extra seating.

Don’t forget to:

Create depth and dimension: A mirror works its magic in a small space by reflecting light and creating an illusion of extra meterage.

Go big on decorative items: Oversized dramatic pendant lamps and wall-to-wall artworks can make a small, narrow space look far bigger.

Add clever shelving: Use floor-to-ceiling shelving units to subdivide your space. Plus, they provide extra storage.