Advice Independent Living

Decorating Your Independent Senior Living Apartment

Photos of a nicely decorated senior apartment

Moving into a senior independent living community means lots of exciting changes and new opportunities. In a previous post, we provided moving tips to help you get started on the next chapter of your life. Downsizing might mean your senior apartment has less space, but that doesn’t mean it has to have less style. The way you decorate can have you feeling right at home in your new place.

To help, we’ve put together some tried-and-true basics for smaller spaces to help you tackle decorating your own senior apartment.

Do Double Duty

Make the most of the room you have by investing in furniture pieces that can serve multiple purposes. Furniture that has storage space built right in immediately cuts down on extra clutter. Consider a bed with built-in drawers or benches and ottomans with space to hide away extra blankets or sweaters. A daybed can serve as both a sofa and a guest bed. Find a table that can function as a desk and a dining table, or buy cubes that serve as a coffee table and bonus seats when guests are over.

Get Vertical

The easiest way to make ceilings look higher is to place a drapery rod close to the ceiling – about 2 inches below the crown molding. While you’re at it, be sure to extend the rod at least 4 inches on either side of the window so that the window appears wider and allows in more light. Also, curtains that blend with the walls create an unbroken line, making a room feel much larger.

You can also exploit the under-utilized space between the tops of furniture and a room’s ceiling with hanging or high-mounted elements. Take bookcases and cabinets all the way up to make the room feel higher.

Make Time for Reflection

Here’s one of the oldest design tricks in the book: Surrounding yourself with mirrors creates the illusion of more space. Place a mirror opposite a window and it will bounce light around the room, making the room feel airier. The bigger the mirror, the better. Mirrored backsplashes in small kitchens can work visual wonders. Mirrors are of course also highly decorative in their own right, and you can play with the frame finish to add to your decor.

Choose Your Palette Wisely

You can do a bold color in a small space, but a predominantly neutral palette generally makes the flow feel less choppy. Light shades open things up. When choosing your palette, focus on using three colors: Choose two light, bright shades to decorate the majority of the space, then add in one darker accent color to ensure things stay visually interesting.

Calm, even-toned rooms fool the eye into thinking they’re more spacious than they are. Add subtle patterns and textures to keep the space from falling flat.

Start with the one color you know you want to use in the room. Then use this handy color scheme tool from Sessions College to play around with the schemes to find your other color. Remember to throw in a multi-colored painting, rug or textile that will pull your color scheme together.

Keep the Floor Clear

Even the most well-decorated small room doesn’t work if you can’t move through it. Floating shelves offer storage space without the bulkiness of chests, bookcases and armoires. Rather than floor lamps, try sconces and wall lights. You can even swap out your nightstands for floating shelves to keep the ground clear of obstacles and create space for extra storage beneath if needed.

A media console is the biggest space waster in a small living room. Mount your TV on the wall or above a fireplace to regain necessary floor space.

Focus on Lighting

Small spaces can often end up feeling dark due to small or nonexistent windows. Make up for the lack of natural light by adding plenty of light sources in every room, from the kitchen to the bedroom. Combine striking ceiling fixtures — either a pretty pendant or elegant flush mount, depending on your ceiling height — with sconces or table lamps for a cozy and bright atmosphere.

Use Storage Space

For some of us, downsizing can be a difficult process. You may have trouble discarding beloved items that simply won’t fit into your new home. To help ease the burden of leaving special items behind, ask a family member to help store some things for you, or rent a storage unit close to your community. This way, you can switch out seasonal items or redecorate later with cherished possessions.

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