16 Creative Ways to Make the Most of Your Vertical Space

Stuck in a small space? Utilize your vertical space to get the most "bang for your buck."

Photo By: Kim Vargo, Yellow Brick Home

Photo By: Kristine Franklin, The Painted Hive

Photo By: Domestic Imperfection

Photo By: Angela Neese Rathbun, Blue i Style

Photo By: Angela Neese Rathbun, Blue i Style

Photo By: Ginnie Leeming, Hello Little Home

Photo By: Daniela Lukomski, Austin Styled

Photo By: Julie Nichols, Love My Simple Home

Photo By: Violante & Rochford Interiors; Wendy McEahern Photography

Photo By: Kristi Haight, Chatfield Court

Photo By: Daniela Lukomski, Austin Styled

Photo By: Gabriella Quadrini, @margaretmargaretgabriella

Photo By: Violante & Rochford Interiors; Wendy McEahern Photography

Photo By: Amy Geib, Always Never Done

Photo By: Lisa Silfwerbrand, Recreated Designs

Ship Shape

"With little room for more obvious furniture storage in a small area, don’t forget to use the vertical space," says Kim Vargo of Yellow Brick Home. "Hooks, rods and built-ins can lend so much additional storage while adding a punch of personality." Kim needed an organized space to store shipping materials for her online shops. Shelving over the worktable and conduit pipes for holding wrapping and packing papers keep everything within reach. Plus, notes Kim, the "paper pipes" lend a cool industrial vibe to an otherwise feminine spot.

A Novel Nook

"When there isn't much floor space in a room, the walls become an integral part of the scheme," says Kristine Franklin of The Painted Hive. In small spaces, Kristine says, walls need to do double duty, making up for the lack of floor space by being both stylish and useful. "We needed an efficient area to house all our books and the computer and to act as a neat, little home office," Kristine explains. "As we have no spare rooms, this wall nook had to be it! It's in a prominent location in our house just off the kitchen so it was important for it to look pretty, as well as be practical. The eclectic gallery wall is perfect for injecting a sense of style and also works to help camouflage the computer monitor."

Just Sling It

Motivated by the need for stylish book storage that didn’t occupy much space in her son’s room, Ashley of Domestic Imperfection got crafty with colorful fabric and some hardware. Not only do these fun book slings hold a lot and take up zero floor space, but "my boys can see the front of the books instead of just the side, which means they can easily pick a book without pulling every single one off the shelf," she says. We love this easily customizable idea for magazines in a living room or cookbooks in the kitchen, too.

Set the Record Straight

Angela Neese Rathbun of Blue i Style wanted to create a special space for her sons in the unused alcove beneath the stairs but was stumped by the limited floor area. "I wanted to leave it open for play which meant I needed to put the walls to good use," she says. "I love the impact of the records covering the entire slanted ceiling, and the gallery wall provides a perfect combination of style and function." Amongst the eye-catching decor elements in this rocking room, check out the wall-mounted magazine racks, clips to display the boys' art and the rails and baskets along the bottom of the wall to keep the small instruments and toys from cluttering the floor.

Room With a View

"Before moving to our current house, we lived in a 10th-floor condo with an amazing view of the downtown Denver skyline," says Angela Neese Rathbun of Blue i Style. "We decided to bring the view with us by creating this giant photo mural. I love that it almost gives the appearance of a window, giving our bathtub one heck of a city view," she says. Angela suggests using a favorite photo — like a shot from a memorable vacation — printed out on a home printer (or on the cheap at an office supply store) and popped into inexpensive, simple frames. "A photo mural is a great way to fill the large wall space above a couch, bed or hallway."

Get Graphic

"This project was inspired by the wallpaper itself," says Ginnie Leeming of Hello Little Home. Drawn to the graphic design of the paper for her tiny kitchen but restricted as a renter, Ginnie came up with a clever way to make regular wallpaper removable. She first lined the backsplash wall with contact paper then applied the wallpaper on top. "The wallpaper added tons of personality to my tiny, all-white kitchen," she says. And her contact-paper trick means almost any wallpaper, fine paper, even gorgeous wrapping paper can become beautiful, removable decor.

Painted Pattern

"Just because the space is tiny," says Daniela Lukomski of Austin Styled "doesn’t mean you can't have fun with it! The hand-painted 'wallpaper' and artwork made my small office space much more enjoyable to look at everyday." Daniela suggests stenciling a pattern or referencing a completed drawing before you bring out the paint and brushes. "I personally like to freehand, but I had to repaint the first go-round because I didn’t space things out evenly," she shares.

Material World

"Walls pack a lot of power in small spaces and are the first thing you see when you enter a room. Why not make them beautiful," says Julie Nichols of Love My Simple Home. The small closet that Julie turned into a workspace is dressed up with a crisp, black-and white stripe fabric — that’s as stunning as wallpaper but a lot easier to hang. Julie’s tip? "Use straight pins instead of nails to hang the fabric. The holes from the pins are hardly noticeable after you remove them from the wall." Plus, it’s a cinch to change up your decor inexpensively — Julie’s high-end look came in at under $5!

Cozy Cubby

This built-in bed is not only a striking design element that makes the most of the small room, it’s also a perfect play space. Says Paul Rochford of Violante & Rochford, "This room is for children so we made it like a fort — a colorful, fun space that belonged to them." The designers set out to turn the limited space into an exciting environment that works for the inhabitants. "Graphic elements, like the trim and the contrasting colors, really define the space and make it unique and distinctive," Paul says. Two drawers incorporated beneath the bed are a delightful storage solution.

Reclaimed and Repurposed

"With no available surfaces to display decor and a large blank wall begging for attention, I knew that adding shelves would be the perfect solution," says Kristi Haight of Chatfield Court. Knowing she wanted to inject a little personality into the guest room, Kristi used reclaimed barnwood and brackets made from plumbing parts for a cool, rustic-industrial result. While she chose to use two shelves over the bed, Kristi suggests personalizing the look for your space with planks of different lengths or create a bookcase effect with a series of stacked shelves.

Moment of Reflection

"This mirrored wall was my best idea yet," says Daniela Lukomski of Austin Styled. Though she admits "installing the mirrors was slightly intimidating because it was a more permanent decision, I just knew I needed to do something to enhance the small dining space. I went for it and couldn’t be happier!" It’s also perfect for checking out your head-to-toe ensemble before heading out the door, she adds. "It opens up the space,” continues Daniela, "adds light where it was lacking before and really brings the dining room and kitchen area together." For an easier, more eclectic option, create a gallery wall hung with framed mirrors in all shapes and sizes instead.

Tactile Treasures

Fiber artist Gabriella Quadrini knows that every inch of space in a small room is important. "Finding creative ways to add personality and style without overwhelming the space can be a tough balancing act," she says. Here, a trio of fringed, ombre-dyed wall hangings is grouped together and hung above a bed, pulling double duty as an alternative to a space-gobbling headboard and a focal point that adds color, texture and warmth to the room.

Go Big

"In a small room like this, we actually start with a focal point — like a major piece of art — and work around it for the rest of the room’s design," says Michael Violante of Violante & Rochford Interiors. Michael says to think of small spaces as intimate instead of challenging. "Don’t be afraid to use bright splashes of color." The tendency to keep things neutral and downsized in a smaller room, he says, "is not as interesting or as chic" as a big, bold statement piece. We adore how the look comes together thanks to colors pulled from the painting and used in eye-catching decorative elements in an otherwise neutral space.

Growing Up

We headed outdoors with this clever garden solution by Amy Geib of Always Never Done. Needing additional space to grow more and wanting to beautify an unused exterior wall, Amy went vertical. "This outdoor feature was quite the talk of our neighborhood. We had people stopping by often to admire our DIY vertical garden space," she says. A big part of DIY projects is being flexible and getting creative. "Don’t let small road blocks stop your project." When she couldn’t find special planters that would hang from the vertical structure, Amy figured out how to make her own. "I ended up picking out plastic planters that were the right size for my plants and drilling holes in the back on either side. I then used a heavy gauge wire to attach the planters to the wood slats."

Chalk One Up

"When living in an urban setting, housing tends to be on the smaller side and making every ounce of space usable — while visually beautiful — can be a challenge," says Lisa Silfwerbrand of Recreated Designs. With her small entryway, Lisa says, "the only option was to come up with something whimsical and creative to utilize the wall space." Her oversized trompe l’oeil framed chalkboard meets all her needs — decorative and functional. "I wanted a place to leave notes and reminders but also something that would immediately pull guests’ eyes away from the cramped space and steep stairs ahead." Success!

Curtain Call

In this small guest room, every thoughtful detail is on display. We love the symmetry in the decor and the mix-and-match pattern play. It all comes together to create an inviting, functional space with a lot of personality. The curtain behind the headboard has a silky sheen and is just a hint deeper than the wall color. Hung close to the ceiling, it adds a luxe, textural element to the space while visually adding height to keep the room feeling cozy instead of cramped.

Shop This Look