5 Things to Know About Moving From a City Apartment to a Home in the Suburbs

Moving from a small space to a larger one—and subsequently having to fill that big new house—is not a new design conundrum. But in the last year, as more people moved from city apartments to houses in the suburbs, we saw an uptick in clients struggling with filling out their new, larger homes.

The reality is, when you go from apartment living to being a homeowner, there tends to be a big gap between the amount of furniture you have and what you actually need to fill your new home.

Case in point: After moving from the city to the suburbs, our client, Michelle, had tons of extra space and not nearly enough furniture. She was overwhelmed—but her Modsy designer was able to help her transform her sparse space into a dream home.

But it’s not just that you have more space to fill. So many people make the move from small city apartments to full-sized homes and realize their furniture no longer works.

When Marybeth, another Modsy client, moved from a modern apartment in the city to a 1931 Tudor in the suburbs, her IKEA furniture that had felt at-home in her former apartment no longer suited her space. Seeing new furniture in her 3D designs gave her confidence when buying new furniture.

Since upsizing is becoming a surprisingly common design struggle, we turned to our expert designers and asked them to share how they help clients feel at home in their new spaces. Here are 5 common design dilemmas that arise when moving from the city to the suburbs and our best tips on how to address them!

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1. Do Consider The Size, Scale, and Purpose of Your Furniture

We’ve written a lot about how to save space in a small apartment and what furniture works best in tiny spaces. A lot of that comes down to opting for apartment-sized furniture. But here’s the thing: in a full-sized home, smaller, apartment-scale pieces simply won’t look good. That petite console you had in your apartment living room? It will look dwarfed in your new space. And a loveseat definitely can’t be your main seating option in your new living room. It might seem obvious, but apartment-sized furniture is designed to work in smaller spaces. So, these pieces will look disproportionately small in your new space. You have to rethink the functional scale and proportion of your furniture in your new, larger home.

Having more space to feel also means moving away from multipurpose furniture to single-use pieces. Your dining table no longer has to double as your desk. And that bench you used in your entryway/living room/bedroom in your old apartment. It can happily live in one room and serve a single purpose.

And since you have more space for storage, you can start thinking differently about all of those clever storage ideas you put to use in a small apartment. Maybe it’s time to move on from your storage coffee table and transition your storage to a separate cabinet.

Don’t be afraid to spread out, re-organize your storage, and create new organizational systems throughout your home that work for your current space.

Designer Tip: Since you’ll most likely be looking for at least a couple new pieces for your new home, might we direct you to our furniture buying guides? Our catalog of buying guides walks you through the process of selecting all the main pieces you might need—from sofas and dining tables to rugs and coffee tables!

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2. Do Consider The Style of Your Home’s Architecture

This isn’t always the case—but more often than not, your new home will have a different style of architecture than your previous apartment. You may have moved from a turn-of-the-century brownstone apartment to a new build in the suburbs. Or maybe you went from a city highrise to a mid-century rambler. The era in which a house was built, and the style it was built in—craftsman, Spanish revival, Tudor, Victorian, new build—has an impact on how you approach the design. Translation? Your new space won’t necessarily agree with that mid-century-inspired IKEA sofa.

And beyond the style, in a full house versus an apartment, you’ll have other architectural details to contend with. You’ll most certainly have more windows. This is almost always a good thing—who doesn’t love added natural light? But this also means choosing the right curtains for your home.

And then there are your home’s materials. If you have wood flooring, it likely has a different finish than your old place. Or maybe you’re dealing with carpeting, tiles, or even different flooring in each room! Chances are the hardware and fixtures will also be different finishes. All of this means your existing furniture and decor will interact differently with these new materials than they did with the materials of your previous apartment. Sometimes it will work, and other times you’ll realize that what worked before simply no longer suits the details of your new home.

So, what can you do? Find furniture, decor, and color schemes that work with your personal style and the style of your home. For example, craftsman homes tend to have lots of warm wood features—so perhaps a rustic design style with lots of natural textures and neutral upholstery is the move for you! In a brand new home and looking to add some character? Check out our new build home decor tips.

And if you need help in this process, know that Modsy designers can guide you through the whole process!

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3. Do Enjoy Spreading Out

When you live in a small apartment, efficiency is a top priority. When you have a whole house where you can spread out? Not so much. Your new space is defined by possibilities rather than limitations since you have so much more space to work with.

Similar to moving away from multipurpose furniture, you can generally stop striving to create multipurpose rooms. You no longer have to have a living room/dining room/home office combo. Rather, each space in your home can likely have an individual function. Or, within a larger space, you can create distinct zones so that each area has a unique function.

So, start by defining the functions of each room in your new home, asking yourself how you want to use the space. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll most certainly need some new furniture. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to really consider how you want to use your space and to embrace more breathing room in your home. Celebrate the open space you now have and get creative with how to use each room in your home!

Want to see this in action? When Britt, a Modsy client, moved her family and business across the country, she was determined to make the transition as smooth as possible. But an awkward shared living room/office area presented a major challenge. Her Modsy designer helped her create two distinct zones in her large-but-narrow space—and it’s now a space her whole family enjoys.

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4. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Bigger Changes (But Have a Good Plan)

In a home of your own, you’re no longer confined to the rules of renting, with a landlord to answer to and a security deposit to worry about. So, nail that art to the wall! Repaint your bedroom! Add the wallpaper you always wanted!

Owning your own home means you can expand the scope of what’s possible in your decorating process. So, take some time to put your personal stamp on your new home. This could be as simple as a new coat of paint—which can completely change the look and feel of a room—or updating hardware throughout your home. But it can also mean taking on a larger project like tearing down a wall, redoing your kitchen, installing built-ins, or updating your flooring. How great is it that, if you’re itching to rip out the carpet and install hardwood floors, you can do it?!

Designer Tip: Before you jump full speed into demo day, good to have a plan. Need some help? Our expert renovation designers can help you visualize your remodel or structural changes in your home in 3D before you even pick up a sledgehammer.

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5. Don’t Rush the Process

Ok, we know we just said that you can now officially make bigger changes to your home. But that being said, we’d also encourage you not to rush the process (with renovations or home design). Buying a new house provides an exciting opportunity to create a space that’s uniquely you. But too many new homeowners—in a desire to quickly settle in and make their home look “finished”—rush out and fill their home with furniture that they may not love after a year.

Rather than rushing the process, spend some time in thoughtful reflection on what your home really needs. Since you just purchased a home, money might be tight. So, start by deciding what you need now, in terms of furniture and decor, and what you can save for and purchase later. If you can, time your major purchases with big tentpole sales in the furniture industry. Wondering when those major sales are? Check out our year-round furniture shopping guide.

If you’re not sure where to start with furniture-buying, think about the pieces of furniture you use every day—AKA, your bed and sofa. Prioritize these pieces. Things like rugs and decor can come later. (Check out our new home furniture buying guide for more tips!) Worried about your house not feeling livable in the meantime? You don’t have to start from scratch. Use the pieces you already have to start, and swap them out as you figure out your decor style!

Of course, some people really do just want to get their home set and settled right away. If you’re going that route, rely on the help of an expert designer to help you create a thoughtfully curated space! Bonus: when you start a design project with Modsy, you’ll also get huge, exclusive discounts on furniture purchased through Modsy any time of the year! Expert design help and mega discounts? Now that’s a no-brainer.

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Space-Savvy Solutions For 5 Tiny (and Tricky) Spaces

Designing and furnishing a small space is no walk in the park. In fact, it can pose quite the challenge! Though your space is small, there are so many considerations to think through. How do I arrange the space? What furniture should I buy? Can I even fit a sofa? Where am I going to store all my stuff? Challenges abound.

Let’s not forget that many small rooms are not only small, but can be kind of awkward. This means you’ve got a tricky layout to crack, making these pint-sized spaces even more of a design dilemma

Every small space comes with it’s own slew of challenges. But with a few clever and creative tricks up your sleeve, you can design a functional and stylish space.

We’ve rounded up 5 of the tiniest (and trickiest) spaces we’ve seen, and break down how our designers tackled them. Take a peek below for some small room ideas and small space hacks from our designers.

Ready for a crash course in our best small room ideas? Keep scrolling to see how these 5 tiny spaces met their match.


1. A Recessed Living Room Nook

small room ideasThe Challenge:

More like a nook than an actual room, this tiny living space needed furniture that fit with a precision worthy of NASA engineers. Luckily for these homeowners, trying out sofas with 3D online interior design saved them lots of time and backaches. The priority was to find pieces that fit and make the most of every square inch of floor space.

small room ideas

The Solutions:

  • Find a sofa that perfectly fits the small space. Consider your options, like which side you want the chaise to be on. A great option here? Exploring small apartment furniture and apartment-sized sofas.
  • One of our best small room ideas? Try a rug with an organic shape, like a cowhide. This creates a sense of flow in the space and draws attention away from the size of the room.
  • Choose a coffee table with hidden storage, which is one of our favorite sneaky storage ideas for small living rooms! 
  • Pull in a chair with an open, airy frame that won’t add visual weight to the room. It also helps to break up the boxiness of the space.

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2. A Small Home Office for Two

small room ideas – officeThe Challenge:

This small spare room needed to work as an office for two, with space-saving storage options. It also needed to have some sort of relaxed seating. It was a tall order, but we managed to create a small office design that really worked on all counts.

small room ideas

The Solutions:

  • The L-shape arrangement of the desks uses the corner and wall space to its full potential. All without cluttering up the room. That’s a tiny room design win-win in our book!
  • Don’t be afraid to try two different desks—one with plenty of storage and the other with a slim base for fit. (But going for matching finishes will help the shared home office arrangement look more cohesive.)
  • Adding a petite, armless sofa made for ideal seating that isn’t bulky.
  • A C-shape side table can function like a lap desk for working on the sofa. You can also easily move it next to your desk for a place to put your coffee or drink (no more desk spills!).
  • Hang up wall-mounted floating shelves to take advantage of vertical wall space for storage and display your favorite home decor.

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3. A Compact Bedroom

small room ideas bedroom

The Challenge:

This small bedroom posed some major interior design challenges to its occupant. On the bright side, this tiny bedroom gets lots of natural light. However, this space needed some small bedroom design tips to keep it cozy but uncluttered. There’s no closet space to speak of, so finding ways to incorporate extra storage was essential when thinking through small bedroom ideas for this space.

small room ideas bedroom

The Solutions:

  • Fill out the space at the foot of the bed with comfy and functional accents, like a bench and/or a pouf. They’ll also make the space feel less utilitarian. This is one of our top small bedroom ideas—because even a tiny bedroom should be more than “just a place to sleep.”
  • Lean a floor-length mirror to make the space feel bigger and more open. Have limited floor space? Try a series of mirrors for a similar effect.
  • Pick narrow storage pieces to give you the storage space you need without taking over your room. Narrower pieces can squeeze into corners and along walls without feeling bulky.
  • Layer rugs, like a colorful one paired with a cowhide or fluffy shag rug, to add lots of cozy texture in any small bedroom
  • This is one of those fun, simple home decor ideas that doesn’t take up additional space! Bonus: an organically shaped cowhide rug is a great way to add style to a small bedroom—while helping the space feel less boxy.

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4. A Narrow Nursery

small room ideas nurseryThe Challenge:

The goal was to create a stylish nursery—but one that was also highly functional. Given this room’s narrow shape, the furniture needed to be arranged in a line along one side of the room, which had the potential to look awkward. The parents also wanted the crib to be in clear sight at all times and there needed to be space for a changing table. Bring on the small nursery design tips!

small room ideas nursery

The Solutions:

  • Stagger the crib and changing table down the narrow hallway to preserve the walkway while also improving the look of the space. (Essentially, this just looks better than lining up both pieces along the same wall!) This also places the crib in the center of the room, between the two windows, optimizing sightlines.
  • No need to include both a dresser and a changing table. Have a dresser do double-duty by adding a changing table topper. This is also a great way to design for now and later!
  • Add sconces rather than table and floor lamps. They’re a great way to add lighting without taking up floor space—not to mention they’ll be out of baby’s reach!
  • Tuck in a daybed that provides an adult nap spot. Plus, it can also easily make for a guest bed in a pinch! Choose one that has an open base and comes without arms or a back so that it doesn’t add visual bulk.

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5. A Shoebox-Sized Studio

Small room ideas – studio apartmentThe Challenge:

This long studio had the trifecta of tiny apartment interior design challenges. It had to function as a living space and bedroom and also provide a little area for dining and small gatherings. So, we brought in all our best small apartment design tips to make the most of this tiny space.

small room ideas – studio apartmentThe Solutions:

  • A floor mirror helps open up the space and make it look bigger while making use of a tricky corner by the window—a great way to maximize a small space.
  • In tight apartment spaces, clever use of corner spaces can be a space (and life) -saver. Make the most of your walls through hanging shelves and sconces and bringing in tall, slender bookcases to display some home decor and give you some extra storage. (Wall-mounted bookcases are a favorite tiny room design hack of ours, since they take up less floor space than a traditional bookcase.)
  • A tiny studio apartment like this doesn’t have space for a sofa. But that doesn’t mean you have to forego any seating! Simply opt for a small accent chair, along with comfy and moveable seating, like one or two poufs. They can also double as footrests and side tables if needed!
  • Speaking of seating—a chair can take advantage of the unused space at the foot of the bed, making for a comfy place to watch TV, read a book, or wind down with a drink at the end of the day.
  • For easy-to-stow dining seating, bring in bar stools with open, airy frames.

Looking for more studio apartment ideas? Check out our studio apartment layout guide.

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Struggling to design a small space in your home?

In case you missed it, all of our designs are done virtually, by real interior designers, in an accurate 3D model of your exact room. If you’re struggling with a tricky, tiny, or just plain awkward space, we can help find interior design solutions tailored to your exact space.

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This post was updated on February 14th, 2021