Morph Your Pint-Sized Pad Into A Splashy Manse With These Pro Tips!

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on September 5.]
We all fantasize about someday living the high-life in the Hills or even in a penthouse on the Wilshire Corridor. But for now, many of us feel like Snow White dwelling with the dwarves in our mini digs. But, that certainly doesn’t mean our confined flats have to look flat — au contraire! With just a few design tweaks, you can turn your tight squeeze of a crib into chic living quarters fit for a queen.
After picking the brain of one of our 30 Under 30 nominees, Kyle Schuneman, we realized he literally wrote the book on the subject (it's called The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces ). The TV star-slash-author regularly takes cooped-up casas and transforms them into picturesque residences worthy of Dwell spreads. And, lucky for us, he's ready to spill his bold, yet practical tips right here with these 15 surefire tricks for making puny pads live up to colossal proportions. Your ultimate space-expanding guide is right around the bend!
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"Play up what you have. If your small space has high ceilings, create a dramatic headboard or wall treatment to really draw your eye upward. It will visually expand the space. Here, I just bought a ton of old records for 50 cents each, sprayed them a matte grey, and created a headboard for a mattress and box spring. It's graphically cool, can be personalized a million different ways, and gives the illusion of more space."

Photographed by Joe Schmelzer
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"If you want something less DIY but with a big impact, this headboard from West Elm will give you a ton of height and help you play with scale."

West Elm Diamond Tufted Headboard, $349-$599, available at West Elm.
3 of 15
"Layer your textures. In small spaces, the more layered the room is, the more rich and inviting it will seem. The depth of different materials will also give the illusion that there are more items in the area. In this living room, I layered the original exposed brick wall with simple 2 x 4's in a splashy bold yellow, and on top of that hung a papier-mâché bust for a sculptural element. I used a graphic Flor tile carpet in contrasting colors on the floor and a vintage bentwood coffee table in a blonde color. For the seating, I chose cottons and linens for a cozy feeling and kept the color scheme the same. By repeating only a few contrasting colors, but having many textures, the room feels warm and interesting."

Photographed by Joe Schmelzer
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"If you have the cash to burn, these lamps make a huge impact with a small footprint, and I love the mix of textures with the stone and metal."

Dwell Studios Arion Lamp, $620, available at Dwell Studios.
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"I love these because they can be repositioned a million ways. If you move and customize them to your small space, they instantly add texture and variety."

Flor Parallel Reality Tile, $12, available at Flor.
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"Create a focal point. Every room needs a base so that your eye can land somewhere and feels rooted. Create an anchor wall, or use an existing architectural element in the room. Here, I chose a vintage fireplace that no longer worked for my base. I painted it a crisp, glossy white to bring it up to date, used temporary wallpaper to make that white pop even more, and then filled the inside of it with vintage books for a bohemian feel. I used some of the homeowners' favorite items to create a personal vignette and to keep your eye moving along the mantle."

Photographed by Joe Schmelzer
7 of 15
"This temporary wallpaper is so rad! It's perfect for renters who want to create a dramatic wall treatment that will make architecture pop."

Tempaper Citron Honeycomb Wallpaper, $84.95, available at Tempaper.
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"These wall-mounted flowers can add total drama and focus to a room. They will highlight any area that you want, and keep your eye away from anything you'd prefer to hide."

Umbra Wallflower Wall Decor, $19.66, available at Amazon.
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"Use a collection of furniture. Don't just go out and buy a furniture set somewhere! It will make your small space boring and lifeless. Just like all of us, a room should have a story — so choose interesting materials and think outside of the box. In this dining room, I turned an old box spring into a chandelier and total conversation-starter. For the table, I painted a thrift-store find with chalkboard paint (giving it double-duty function, which is key in small spaces), and then added flea market director's chairs that I picked up for a total deal. I layered a striped rug with a chevron-painted wall, and placed a hanging chair that the owner grew up with in the corner. By doing this, it not only made a more interesting room, but it tells a tale of the person who lives there!"

Photographed by Joe Schmelzer
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"I love this rolling desk because it does double-duty as a desk during the day, and a table for your impromptu dinner party at night. It works with so many different styles of furniture, too!"

CB2 Go-Cart Bright Orange Desk, $149, available at CB2.
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"These side tables are perfect for a little space because they can work as extra seating for a game night around the coffee table!"

Jayson Home Wrap Round Table, $298, available Jayson Home.
12 of 15
"For a more upscale look, try these small-scale chairs that have tons of vintage style, but still play well with modern pieces."

Restoration Hardware Couturier's Chair, $395, available at Restoration Hardware.
13 of 15
"Fake it 'til you make it! A lot of times in teensy spaces we just don't have enough room for certain pieces — but that doesn't mean you can't create the illusion of something. This bedroom was so small that the mattress went from wall-to-wall, leaving no room for an actual headboard. Without that piece, the room looked like an unfinished dorm room, so we used a headboard decal which took up no space at all, but gave us the polished look we were after. There are all types of wall decals out there, and if you can't find what you're looking for, you can always paint something one-of-a-kind!"

Photographed by Joe Schmelzer
14 of 15
"If you don't have the room or money for a headboard, this is a perfect option!"

Blik Olivia Headboard, $40, available at Blik.
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"Spruce up your rental kitchen or bath with these tile tattoo decals — it will instantly seem like you have a customized kitchen when you secretly don't!"

Mibo Tile Tattoos, $18, available at 2Jane.

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