Senior Apartment Living: Downsizing Tips for Beautiful Small Space Living

Beauty. Comfort. Simplicity. Coziness.

Senior apartment living means less home maintenance and more time. It brings added security and decreased isolation. Sometimes it means smaller square footage, but also the opportunity to surround yourself with those pieces that are most significant to you.

For many, a move to a senior apartment is an adjustment coming from a larger space or private residence. Since 1905, we’ve helped hundreds of older adults transition into their new homes, and along the way we’ve developed some expert tips about living your best life in a smaller space.

If the move to a senior apartment in a retirement community will mean downsizing for you, first, plan ahead and read up on our top five tips for a smooth downsizing process.

When you’re ready to start planning your apartment layout and moving into your space, here are eight tips to maximize a smaller space.

  1. Don’t bring it all.
    Our senior living consultants said it best, “No one has ever commented that they didn’t bring enough when they moved into a senior apartment.”

    Start with furniture. Before moving, take an inventory for one month of which furniture pieces you use most – those are the ones to bring.  

    Additionally, be selective with your kitchen items, which are a common culprit in the case of “I have too much.” Most senior and almost all assisted living communities provide meals or have restaurant options. You will not need your roaster, the Nesco, or soup pot. Leave behind the 12 piece settings of china and jumbo serving platters.

    Instead, save your kitchen space for two place settings of your favorite dishes, some simple cookware like a sauce pan and skillet, and some of your favorite snacks. If you like to bake, bring a cookie sheet or two.

    Bonus tip: As you sort and pack, be kind to charities. Your extra or unwanted items may be treasures to others. Check this list by for one in your neighborhood.

  2. Embrace the bold.
    When we think of decorating senior apartments, light and airy colors go a long way to make a space feel larger. However, smaller rooms have a surprising way of making a bold color, pattern, or texture completely work. Just mix it in with some neutrals so it’s not overwhelming.

“If you’re worried about going too bold, use colors and prints in smaller ways—such as on an accent wall, throw pillows, or even just picture frames. Or, go big and put up some bright and colorful wallpaper or finally buy that blue velvet couch you’ve always wanted. As long as you secure some balance in the room, there’s no reason you can’t also add in a touch of daring color or pattern.”

Laura Miller,
  1. Keep the bulky items at the perimeter.
    Apartment living doesn’t mean you need to sell your bigger furniture. If some of your favorite or most-used pieces are large, bring them along and strive to place them along the perimeter of your room. Keeping hutches, bookcases, or large couches along the outside of your floor plan maintains a feeling of depth in the room.
  1. Use all the nooks and crannies. 
    One of the best secrets to small-space living is using the space you may be tempted to disocunt as wasted. Got a cute corner by the window? Use that space for your desk and pair it with a wall shelf to keep the rest of the room more open. Have a few inches between the fridge and the wall? Add a custom pull-out pantry shelf and leave room in your cabinets for nutritious snacks!
  2. Use mirrors to open up the space.It’s simple and self-explanatory: mirrors can double the feel of your space. Welcome those open spaces – pick a pretty new mirror or even spruce up the frame of an old favorite.
  3. Go vertical. Another of our senior living consultants’ favorite tips is to use your wall space. Your favorite pictures? Knick knacks? Memory moments? Bring them to your new apartment! You can fill the walls with photos of your family and favorite memories, and use wall shelving to share those memories with staff and new friends.

    Bonus tip: While you’re at it thinking about vertical space on the walls above your furniture, consider adding some space below it, as well. Remember that open-leg furniture can give the illusion of more space.
  1. Give storage spaces lots of TLC.
    In an apartment, storage space is important. Carefully plan out the use of all your closets, your pantry, and other storage places. You can get a lot more functionality out of a closet that’s outfitted with shelves, baskets, and organizer trays than if you’re just stacking up loose items.

    Bonus tip: Consider an over-the-door organizer to use the inside surface of your closet door for additional organization.
  2. Get out!
    Apartment living is wonderful because you have your own private oasis, but a world of other opportunities lives just outside your door. Among the many reasons for moving into a senior living community is the perk of having common areas, amenities, and opportunities in the rest of the building and surrounding community. One morning you can enjoy your cup of coffee in the sunny window seat of your apartment, and the next you can step out to the shared patio off the community room.

What about you – do you have a tip to add from your own experience? Leave us a comment or contact us for a tour. We’d love to show you how apartment living at a senior community can be the best for you.