What is a Railroad-Style Apartment? 8 Tips For Decorating It

What İs A Railroad-Style Apartment? 8 Tips For Decorating It

Railroad-style apartments can be a bit tricky to decorate because of their awkward narrow shape. But when you know how to use the space, light, and furniture, they can also make gorgeous and stylish homes.

As Doğtaş, your go-to address for modern furniture, we will go through railroad apartment layout definition and tips for a dazzling and organized railroad flat.

NY style railroad-style apartments

So, what is a railroad-style apartment, exactly?

A railroad apartment or railroad flat is an apartment with a layout consisting of succeeding rooms connecting to each other in a line. Rooms in railroad flats lead into one another, often from front to back.

The name of this type of apartment comes from the layout’s similarity to a typical passenger train car. You have to walk through one room to get to another as if you are walking inside the cars of a train.

This style is most commonly seen in New York City, San Francisco, and the surrounding areas. One popular misconception about railroad-style apartments is confusing linear-layout apartments with railroad flats. If it has a hallway, it’s not railroad style.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Railroad Apartment


  • Railroad-style apartments lack privacy
  • Residents have to walk through rooms to pass to another
  • If center rooms lack windows, you may have a light issue.
  • Railroad apartments often have less storage space.


  • Although they lack privacy, railroad flats tend to be less expensive because of the same reason.
  • They are compact and efficient.
  • Affordable
  • Perfect for modern minimalism

Tips for Organizing and Decorating a Railroad Apartment

bright living room interior

1. Organize The Space According to Natural Light

Lighting is an essential element in balancing railroad flats just like any apartment interior design, especially for small spaces, such as studio apartment decoration. The living room is often the main sitting area, so it’s best to make the room with the most natural light in the living room. In terms of railroad-style apartments, the end of the flat gets more sunlight.

However, there’s a catch. You’ll need to accept that your bedroom is in the middle of the apartment. If you feel uncomfortable with this layout and want to keep the living area in the middle, you can make use of artificial lights to create a more spacious feeling.

In that case, take a look at our next suggestion.

2. Use Artificial Lights to Brighten Up Space

a glass pendant

As we mentioned before, the middle rooms in railroad flats often lack windows, hence natural light. However, you can still brighten up space while keeping everything modern and stylish with a correct artificial light choice.

Glass ceiling lights, for example, are perfect for railroad apartments since they can give out more light from the bulb.

Another great option is ceiling lights with metal surfaces. Metal surfaces reflect the light coming in, so they are fantastic to have a little more light reflection. If you want to create a focal point in the room, you can also pick bolder lighting. Just make sure it aligns with your flat’s interior decoration.

3. Get Rid of Unnecessary Doors

black modern apartment

The rooms in railroad flats connect to each other. Closing the door of one room with natural light can cut off space and make it narrower. Instead, you can take down unnecessary doors to open up the interior and make your long apartment brighter. This will help with the air circulation and ventilation as well.

4. Maximize Natural Light with Mirrors

a modern bedroom interior

What do we do when we need to make small rooms feel bigger and lighter? One word; mirrors. Mirrors are the best pieces of furniture that can reflect the light and create the illusion of a more open space.

Hang mirrors directly opposite one another, especially on long sidewalks. This will create depth and perspective.

5. Use Modular, Space-Saving Furniture

a white sofa

You will need all the free space you can get to prevent a cluttered look in railroad flats. To maintain a balance and easy-flowing ambiance, you should opt for modular space-saving furniture pieces such as wall-mounted desks, murphy beds, and storage sofas.

Doğtaş sleeper storage sofa is an excellent example. It provides extra storage space as well as a chic and sleek look. If you are not a fan of murphy beds, storage beds are another option.

6. Create a Visually Clarity

In all small living spaces, it’s essential to keep the clutter to a minimum. Built-in storage or open shelving might help clear the cluttered look. Aside from that, here are some additional tricks for a railroad flat with an airy feel:

Try to keep your decorative objects minimal and very few.

Since you can look across your apartment and literally see every room, it’s best to keep a consistent tone.

If you have space in front of windows, you might like to take a look at our article, “Dresser In Front of Windows? How to Pull It Off”

7. Use Long Curtains to Elongate the Ceiling

woman opens the curtains

Long curtains give the illusion of taller walls. But we have a catch here. If the curtains cover much of the window space and block the natural light, that would have a negative impact. Your main aim should be letting in the daylight as much as you can. Otherwise, you may end up with a complex and gloomy apartment.

Leave the windows bare if you can. If not, you can use long curtains parted to the sides or blinds that let in abundant natural light.

8. Turn a Room Into Your Closet

a closet room

The closets in railroad flats tend to be narrow and too limited. If you live by yourself, try transforming a room into your closet by placing a wardrobe, mirror, and dresser in it. This way you will have more free space in your bedroom.

Bottom Line

It’s true that railroad apartments lack privacy, considering there aren’t dividing walls or even doors in some cases. However, they are still an ideal option for people who live alone. In that case, what you lose in privacy, you gain an extra room. That extra room can be perfect for a home office or mini art studio instead.

In short, if you prefer to live alone and like a cozy space, a railroad flat could be more affordable and welcoming than a loft or studio apartment. Follow our tips above to make sure your place is organized and decorated compatible with its shape in the best possible way.

Yayınlanma Tarihi: 26 Mayıs 2021 Çarşamba