Our childhood homes shape our expectations, and when you grow up with a proper dining room, spacious backyard, and a full-size office, leaving the nest for a one-bedroom apartment can be jolting. For better or worse, there’s an unspoken pressure to replicate what we know, even if it comes at the expense of function.
While it’s comforting to have a set of standards to rely on, superfluous rules like “thou shalt buy a live-edge coffee table” or “honor thy matching nightstands” aren’t always applicable. Living large in a small space isn’t about adhering to the rulebook—it’s about picking and choosing your battles based on your lifestyle.
To help you meet real life halfway, we’re reevaluating the one-bedroom apartment starter kit—coffee table, bar cart, and all. Read on for six things you’d be surprised a small space could live without.
If your inner introvert rarely entertains…
Skip: the dining table
Try: a convertible counter
You’re always down for a good dinner party—just not when it’s at your house. We don’t blame you for wanting to keep your personal oasis to yourself, but if privacy is something you cherish, it might be time to rethink owning a six-person dining table. Instead, think beyond the bounds of traditional seating. On the rare occasion that you do have friends over for charcuterie, a multifunctional piece like IKEA’s Teodores table with extendable leaves can meet your needs for a sit-down meal. For the rest of the 364 days, it can double as a makeshift desk.
If your home is a revolving door for out-of-towners…
Skip: the coffee table
Try: low nesting tables
If your apartment doubles as a hostel for faraway friends, go with the flow with a chic and easy furniture layout. A pair of mismatched side tables is a smart alternative to a bulky coffee table that takes two to move. Opt for surfaces with varying heights so one can easily nest under the other in the corner when visitors arrive.
If you never veer from your go-to drink…
Skip: the bar cart
Try: a catchall tray
We envy anyone who can confidently look a bartender in the eye and rattle off an order without every second-guessing their choice. If you know yourself well enough to have a go-to cocktail, you also probably know that you don’t need an entire cart dedicated to mixing margaritas when you only drink gin. A deserted bar cart in the corner only collects dust, but a sleek tray can enjoy a prime spot on a dresser.
If you’d rather read than watch GoT…
Skip: the TV console
Try: a treasure chest
Streaming hasn’t just changed the way we binge-watch, but it’s also changed the way we decorate. Of the many major design lessons we’ve learned from Leanne Ford over the years, this one might be our favorite. On top of a storage console where you’d normally expect to find a black box, the designer leaned a gilded antique mirror. This clever swap won’t just make your living space feel larger than it is—it’ll encourage you to take a break from screens.
If you take your beauty rest seriously…
Skip: the full-size bed
Try: a cozy twin or trundle
If the only reason you have a full- or queen-size bed is that you share the sheets with someone else, feel free to move on. But for those among us who spend most nights alone, downsizing your mattress is a serious pursuit worth considering. Hear us out: Aside from saving precious floor space, a twin or trundle provides the necessary amount of room to prioritize a solid night’s sleep. Style it like an adult with tonal bedding, sculptural plug-in sconces, and original artwork.
If the only thing you’re good at organizing is the closet…
Skip: the fancy built-in wardrobe
Try: a bedside rack
There’s little we love more than a customized wardrobe, but a beautiful built-in unit is hard to justify when you’re constantly on the move. Anyone who has ever taken an IKEA Pax system apart knows there’s no coming back when you switch apartments. In lieu of floor-to-ceiling storage, display your wardrobe staples for all to see by pulling up a rolling rack.
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