Inexpensive Ways to Make Small Rentals Feel Bigger

by | Dec 10, 2012 | Rental Property Management Tips

Many existing apartments have small rooms.  New construction is trending in the same direction, with 300-square-foot “microlofts” gaining popularity.

If you own a rental property with small rooms, a little staging can make the space seem larger and more inviting, and that in turn can make it easier to increase rent or fill vacancies.

Here are a few inexpensive ideas that may stretch your rental property’s floor plan:

Neutral Paint

Paint color makes all the difference in small spaces. Whites, off-whites and very pale blues and greens recede for a pleasing look that make the walls feel farther apart. Pale yellow can mimic the look of natural light.

When choosing paint, color test first in the unit in alternate lighting before you commit to a color. Color samples that appear anemic in the store or in a bright room can become blaring or muddy when painted on all four walls of a small room. 

Paint the ceilings the same pale color or white to maintain the most light possible in the room.

If practical, remove paneling or wallpaper from the room.


A carefully placed mirror will create a welcome illusion of space.  Mirrors are most effective when placed to reflect the view outdoors, a fireplace, a light fixture or a doorway.

Increase Floor Space

Items placed on the floor — like rugs, potted plants or heavy furniture — have the effect of taking up space, and that will make the room seem even smaller.  Look at installing build-in shelves or shelving flush with walls to take advantage of vertical space, and eliminate the need to fill the room with furniture.

Corner shelving is an attractive space-saver, especially in a cramped dining area.

Shelving in closets also creates a sense of expanse and eliminates clutter, which makes the space more appealing and more organized.

Empty Rooms Shrink the Space

Oddly enough, empty rooms actually appear smaller than those staged with minimal furniture.  That’s because it’s hard to imagine the scale of furniture in an empty room.

If a unit is unfurnished, consider renting apartment-sized furnishings day-to-day during tours. Create a couple of vignettes — like a scaled-down dining table, a bed and dresser or a small sofa — to give would-be renters a sense of scale and the room’s potential. Take advantage of the staging to take great photos for rental ads.


Proper lighting makes a significant difference between cozy, and cave-like. If natural light is limited in the unit, well-placed, upgraded lighting fixtures may be well worth the investment.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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