It’s officially the new year and you’re all ready for another season of apartment living. Now that you’re resolutions are squared away, it’s time to start thinking about new ways to improve your living space. Things can get stale after a while, especially when you live in a smaller apartment that doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities in the way of rearranging furniture. Loft living can be just as hard; there’s so much room to fill, you might be lost for options. Maybe it’s time to freshen things up with a new design element or two. Here are our top five tips for creative and fun ideas to brighten up your living space in the new year.

1. Throw Down A New Rug

Not only are rugs great for bringing a cushy feel underfoot, but they can also serve to brighten up a room, accentuate existing colors in your other decorations and define space, particularly important for those of us living in large loft apartments. Even better, rugs (contrary to popular opinion) can actually make a space seem larger, especially when they’re situated with a comfortable skirt of between 12 and 18 inches around their edge.

Bedroom Interior

But be careful in choosing your rugs. Options that are too small for your space will make your room seem smaller, too. Try selecting a rug that mirrors colors or accents found in your other design choices. Maybe a royal blue would really bring out the blue in those throw pillows, or a dark red oriental could help to set off the creamy beige of that sofa.

Buying a new area rug is a great way to give your bare floors a quick makeover. In the process, you’ll be adding a fresh new design element to your space and defining the space in which you live. For lofts, area rugs are critical, because they can help apportion a single large space into multiple smaller areas, providing a sense of containment without forgoing the spaciousness that makes loft living so great.

2. Buy A Diffuser

When it comes to our living environment, smell is just as important as sight or touch. Imagine walking into your home after a busy day at work and being greeted by the soothing scent of eucalyptus, the hardy smell of fresh pine or a refreshing blend of citrus.

All you need is to buy a diffuser; cheap options for around $25 are available on Amazon. Then gather a few essential oils together and start having fun! Aromatherapy is the way to go, especially when you’re going to sleep. Try a calming lavender to ease you into bed, and a bright grapefruit to bring joy after a hard day.

3. Start Growing Plants

Apartment living and house plants were made for each other. There’s no better way to fill empty corners, accentuate spaces and bring fresh color to a room than a collection of new houseplants. Best of all, plants bring along with themselves a new collection of vases, which can become fresh design elements in their own right.

Every room of your apartment can be improved by a houseplant – a coterie of succulents on the bathroom shelf, bromeliads in the living room and orchids in the kitchen. Plants also bring a sense of accomplishment; it feels great to tend something and watch it thrive. Just don’t forget to water!

4. Switch Out Your Wall Hangings

Sick and tired of staring at the same old art on the walls? After a while, you start to take those paintings, pictures and prints for granted. Long enough and you don’t even notice them anymore. That’s a shame, because your wall hangings should always bring joy.

Hang your paintings and prints with a purpose. Try rotating your collection every six months, or in time with the season, saving bright prints and pastels for the summer months, then switching them out for heavier colors in winter. This way, you’re also surprised by the artworks you’ve collected over the years.

Another tip? Try leaving one of your walls blank, without anything hanging on it. That gives you a place to rest your eyes after all the stimulation.

5. Take Your Lighting For A Spin

Lighting is extremely important, but often neglected. We tend to pass by our lamps without a second thought, but switching up your lighting situation can (no pun intended) shed a new light on a tired old room. Light makes a room feel different – you can brighten a dreary space with chrome finishes, or soften a nook with a shaded lamp.