Small space living often centers around functionality and efficiency. Functional does not have to equal boring! There are many small space design tips you can try that allow you to express your personal style, while also improving the flow and efficiency of your space.
If your small space is feeling a bit drab lately, or you’re preparing to downsize, remember that there is often lots of overlooked space just waiting to be utilized. Or it could simply be a matter of choosing different combinations of furniture and artwork. When working with a smaller space, all you need is a slight shift in perspective to get your creative juices flowing. There are many subtle design changes you can make that open a space up – from adding a mirror (classic!) or simply replacing a pattern.
What are the Challenges of Small Space Living?
Decorating or furnishing a small space can feel like an impossible puzzle. You want to fit as much in as possible without making it feel cramped. You want it to show your personality without making it look chaotic. But it is possible to have a small space that's both stylish and functional.
A small space forces you to minimize – whereas a large space just naturally invites ‘stuff’ in if you aren’t careful. A small space requires you to be more creative and purposeful, and this is where our design tips come in handy. These tips will help you shift your perspective and suggest décor and furniture options that will make even the smallest space work for you while also allowing the expression of your personal taste to flow naturally through your tiny dwelling.
Whether you’re in a studio apartment or just choosing to live a more minimalist existence, we’ve put together some design tips for small space living.
1. Make Sure Your Furniture Can Move
Equip your furniture with the means to move – pieces that lift, close and tuck away, modular seating that can be stacked or re-positioned into any tight corner, or a cabinet on wheels! Do not sacrifice your precious space by plopping down a traditional sofa or dining room table – almost anything in your home can be designed to move – all you need is a little creativity. Don’t shy away from luxury either! If your dream is to have a big comfy couch to sprawl on, don’t default to compact condo-sized furniture – just pick an adjustable option for the size you want.
Modular furniture is designed to move around and do some serious shapeshifting. The most common modular option is the sofa. Modular sofas can be taken apart, and even stacked in a corner if needed. Really tight on space? Choose a modular sofa without armrests. The pieces will take up less space and be even easier to tuck away.
There are endless movable furniture options such as fold-down tables that free up wall space, coffee tables that lift for dining, or a disappearing desk! Being able to move things around is important in a small space, so you don’t feel limited in what you can or cannot do in your home. One great option is using moveable storage. For example, use storage boxes that can be stacked, re-arranged, or put away at a moment’s notice. A bar or even a kitchen island on wheels are also small-space options. In terms of furniture for smaller spaces, play around with moveable pieces before adding anything permanent.
2. Embrace Every Space
In a small space, every inch counts. If you haven’t noticed by now, small spaces seem to require some unconventional choices. Don’t shy away from sprucing up unlikely, unused spaces, especially when trying to create a dedicated workspace or quiet area.
If there is a structural ‘flaw’ in your space – a jutting out corner, a beam, a huge radiator – try to embrace it. It could turn out to be your favorite aspect of the space, as opposed to one that needs to be avoided. One way to do this is to build custom furniture (such as seating areas) that fit precisely into those dimensions. Custom-built pieces can be made for any room. In a tight bedroom, custom closets on either side of the bed (forget the nightstands!) immediately make clutter disappear. Trying something new for the sake of space can be well worth it!
3. Create Optical Illusions for More Space
Creating space – or the optical illusion of space – by the strategic placement of décor, framed artwork and mirrors is the oldest trick in the book.
‘Going vertical’ can draw the eye upwards so there is less focus on how narrow the walls are or how tight the space is. It can also free up space that would otherwise be taken up by surfaces or bulky appliances. Don’t shy away from using walls for mounting appliances such as lighting. This eliminates the need for surfaces like nightstands, which can take up a lot of precious space!
Framed Artwork can be placed in a way that draws the eye away from tight spaces and exaggerates the size of a wall. Switching up the size and scale of your artwork adds a sense of movement and is visually pleasing when done correctly. The general rule of thumb is to use smaller pieces for narrow walls, and larger pieces for big walls. Makes sense! A classic look for small, tight walls is placing many smaller framed pieces close together. The nice thing is that small prints can be easily switched up. If you already own a large statement piece, this could be all you need! Make sure the area you hang the large wall piece in isn’t too ‘busy’ since this can be overwhelming in a tight space and create visual clutter. If your space has numerous bookshelves, plants, and a large window, these aspects will all compete for your attention. When you’re dealing with less space, try to find an understated wall that will not distract from your treasured artwork.
Not into owning art? One well-known trick involves placing your curtain rod right at the top of the ceiling, which naturally draws the eye up. Even if you just have a small window, hanging the curtains as wide (the whole wall, not just the window) and as high as possible creates the illusion of higher walls and larger windows.
Lastly, use mirrors to create depth. Mirrors are great because they make a space look larger and they reflect light. If you’re anxious to begin decorating the walls in your small space, you can’t go wrong by starting with a mirror or two.
Small space living doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good design. There are many practical options that can make your space more multi-functional without taking up too much space. Remember that you have to love the pieces in your home. Do not shy away from experimenting and playing around with furniture and décor that can create the optical illusion of more space. This will be sure to improve the flow and flexibility of options to allow you to continuously re-create your space when inspiration strikes.