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Styling a Pied á Terre

While the idea of a pied á terre might sound ultra-high-end, they are just secondary homes — usually small city apartments. But living small doesn’t have to mean forgoing style and comfort!

What comes to mind when you think pied á terre?

Luxurious urban getaways for cosmopolitan types and fancy jet-setters? Maybe, for some. While the idea of a pied á terre might sound ultra-high-end, in actuality it’s just a secondary home — usually a city apartment — and there are lots of practical reasons to stay in one. Those who travel frequently for work may find a pied á terre more convenient, comfortable, and affordable over the long term than hotel accommodations. Parents with children attending college in the City may want a small apartment for weekend visits. Some may use their pied á terre as a short-term rental. With rising rents and a lack of units plaguing many cities, others may simply find themselves living in a pied á terre-sized apartment as their primary residence.

However you use your pied á terre, we have all the space-saving furniture solutions you need to style it beautifully, functionally, and comfortably — because living small shouldn’t mean forgoing luxuries! Style your pied á terre just like a swanky jet-setter with these tips and tricks from our designers.

1. Buy Less, Buy Better

If you’ve ever lived in a small apartment you’re familiar with the common adage — buy less, buy better. Lots of furniture and décor can quickly overwhelm a tight space. Take time to consider each of your purchases and invest in a few, high-quality, functional pieces that you truly love. This is a good habit to adopt no matter how big or small your home, but in a pied á terre it should become your guiding mantra. Not only will your space feel custom-tailored to you, but you’ll find yourself relieved of tons of clutter.

2. Invest in Multi-Purpose Design

We’ve designed hundreds of pied á terres for clients all across the country, so when it comes to making small spaces do more and work better, we can say with confidence that multi-functional design is key. Wall beds with integrated sofas, dining tables, or desks are great ways to instantly multiply the value and functionality of any space. We fitted a client’s Chelsea pied á terre with a Swing queen-size wall bed system with an integrated three-seat sectional and chaise lounge. The Swing allows the living room to double as a guest room, effectively adding a second bedroom to this one-bedroom apartment.

swing wall bed with 3 seat sofa


But beyond wall beds, there’s a wealth of other multi-functional furniture options for pied á terres of all sizes. Height-adjusting and expanding tables, like the Passo, can transform from a standard coffee table to a desk to a dining table long enough to seat a dinner party of 10. Transforming tables allow even micro-apartment dwellers to enjoy all the functionality of a dedicated, formal dining room — without the cost.

Whatever multi-purpose design solution you choose, the goal here is to thoughtfully consider how each furniture piece serves the space. We call it designing with purpose, and it’s what we do best.

3. Embrace Vertical Storage

In a pied á terre with limited floor space, wall organizers, cabinetry, and shelving systems are your best friends. Even the tiniest apartments have a plethora of untapped vertical space. Just think about all those empty corners, the unused spaces above your stove or toilet, the inside of your cabinet doors, or your empty halls and entryways — all of that space could be put to good use, with a little planning and creativity.

Luckily, there are endless wall storage options for small apartments — many of which also serve multiple purposes, like the Giralot wall-mounted storage unit. The Giralot features customizable storage compartments that swivel around a column attached to the wall. Swing open these compartments to reveal the perfect hiding spot for shoes, umbrellas, pantry items, toiletries — you name it. This piece has custom inserts to hold all varieties of household items. The Giralot’s storage compartments are available in numerous sizes, configurations, and finishes; but for small apartments, we love a Giralot with a full-length mirror on its face (a time-tested trick to help small homes feel more spacious). We added a Giralot with full-length mirror to one client’s downtown Los Angeles studio apartment to serve as an entryway hall mirror and a shoe organizer.

Of course, when it comes to wall storage, you can’t go wrong with modular cabinetry and shelving. Modular cabinetry is a great choice for small apartments, as it is incredibly versatile both in its placement and configuration possibilities. We offer a wide assortment of customizeable cabinets, closets, and boiserie systems for small apartments. Plus, they integrate seamlessly with our wall bed units; when installed around a wall bed, they appear as one flush, built-in system. Semi-custom cabinetry in a pied á terre — it is possible!


custom storage for wall bed and desk

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Bold

It’s a common misconception that small apartments should be restricted to light, neutral color palettes. We are here to dispel that myth once and for all! Living small doesn’t mean you have to go totally minimal. As long as you commit to Step 1 — and remain conscious of your furniture and décor purchases — you can let your personality shine through any amount of square footage. Don’t be afraid of bold colors, patterns, or striking wallpaper motifs. When implemented thoughtfully, these design elements not only breathe life and personality into a space, but they also help define one area of your home from the next — which is often difficult to do in tight apartments where there are few walls to delineate areas for sleeping, eating, living and working.

Our Botanicals wallcovering collection takes “bold” to a new level. These dramatic floral motifs are captured by Norwegian photographer Tom Haga — founder of the high-resolution wallcovering company, ConcreteWall — with a 700 Megapixel camera, capturing the beauty of mother nature in ultra-high-res. They can be custom-printed to fit any wall with no repeating patterns, and their color can be adjusted to suit your personal style. We’ve installed Botanicals wallcoverings in countless pied á terres; its a surefire way to make a big impact in a small space.