How to Make Your Place Seem Cozy Instead of Cramped

The Dutch call it gezellig, the Germans, gemütlichkeit. While there is no singular word in English that describes the feeling, cozy is perhaps the closest. It's that feeling a space has when it's friendly, relaxing, comfortable, inviting, and homey all rolled into one. While there might not be a word for it in our language, we all have a pretty good idea of what those words are getting at, and more than a few of us would like to live in apartments that exemplify that cozy and comfy feeling. While small spaces often lend themselves to being cozy naturally, they can also just as easily feel cramped and claustrophobic if the decor choices aren't right. Here are some tips to help make your small space feel totally gezellig, cozy, or whatever you want to call it, rather than just plain too small.

Clear out the clutter. Having loads of stuff in a small space can make it feel like an episode of Hoarders. If you want to go for the cozy vibe instead, clear out a room and only bring back in what you actually need. We assure you, it will transform things immediately. Plus, you'll have less to schlep down the stairs when you move.

Rearrange the rooms. Flow can be a big part of what makes a room feel inviting. Rearrange your rooms to see what works best. You might also need to get rid of any hulking pieces of furniture that are taking up too much room or making the space seem smaller than it really is.

Stay away from too bright or too dark colors. Unsurprisingly, color has a lot to do with how a room feels. For instance, a fire engine red might put you on edge, but that same color, toned down to a rich burgundy might give a room a seriously den-like, cozy feel. Generally, lighter colors are best for making a small space feel less closed in, but everyone has their personal preferences.

Adjust the lighting. Harsh fluorescent lights aren't going to make anyone (well, most normal people, anyway) feel at home. Lighting plays a big role in how a room, no matter how big or small, feels. During the day, work on maximizing natural light. Go for gauzy, light colored curtains that won't block out the rays. At night, invest in some great lamps that will cast a warm, comfy glow over the entire space.

Make it personal. There is always that sort of intangible factor that makes a space feel more inviting. Part of is has to do with how much it appeals to you personally, a factor which can be increased exponentially by showcasing elements of your personality throughout the room. Hang up artwork, show off your best-loved books, and fill the room with your favorite stuff for a much homier feel.

Go for comfort. We don't generally tend to think of spaces as being cozy or inviting if they're filled with uncomfortable or stiff furniture (think a Victorian couch covered in plastic, or a bizarre ultra-modern deconstruction of a chair). When choosing furnishings, go for things that will actually be comfortable and practical to use, while still having bit of style. Then, you'll want to be in the space, which is what coziness is all about.