15 Designer Tips for Living Large in a Small Space

Whether it's a simple rearrangement of items you already have, or an idea that urges you to start from scratch, these 15 tips will supply you with the inspiration and know-how to view less as more.

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August 06, 2015

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Look to the Light

If ample wall or floor space is lacking, use a light fixture as your statement piece. Whether you're turned on by something funky or old-fashioned, the ceiling-mounted fixture won't take up valuable real estate. Bonus: More light brightens up the smallest of spaces.

Lay Low

Space is a resource that can be measured both horizontally and vertically. To make a room with low ceilings feel more spacious, select tables, sofas and chairs that sit low to the ground to achieve a high-ceiling visual effect.

Remodel With Dividers

Sectioning off space in your already small home may seem counterintuitive but its a practice in prioritization. If you're willing to forgo some living room space to create a home office, for instance, section it off. DIY a divider with a curtain rod and dreamy drapes, a standing bookcase, or scour flea markets for an antique screen.

Experiment With Open Cabinetry

If the thought of revealing what's stacked (or stashed, rather!) in your kitchen cabinets completely terrifies you, start with one or two. You may surprise yourself with how much it opens up your space and the motivation it inspires to keep tidy.

Go Big

Spaces often feel cramped because they're cluttered with too many small pieces of furntiure. Don't shy away from a big sofa or armoire because it will take up a good chunk of your room's square footage. The right statement piece will add a big dose of visual interest while inspiring the rest of the room's style.  

Put Corners to Work

Sectional sofas were invented (and became hugely popular) for a reason: they maximize available space. This same philosophy can be applied in just about every corner of your home. Create a cozy breakfast nook with two benches hugging a small dining table, or fill an underused corner with a plush armchair and arching floor lamp to create a quiet spot for reading.

Give It Life

No matter how small your space, there's always room for a living plant. Whether low-maintenance succulents or abundant blooms are your preference, there’s no denying that reminders of wide open outdoor spaces can fool your eyes while making your home feel extra fresh.

Disguise Desk Space

The convenience of working from home can be clouded by the clutter created from a long "day at the office." Make the transition from home office to home a simple one with these tricks:

Create a built-in desk inside an unused closet. The doors can be shut to conceal it, and there are likely rods and shelves inside that are perfect for organizing office supplies.

Camoflauge it! Buy a clear lucite desk or a piece in whichever color will blend into your walls best.

Place your work area in an otherwise unused area of your home — like under the stairwell or on the landing at the top of the stairs.

Hunt Down Hollow Furniture

Select furniture pieces that double as storage for extra linens, gift wrap or kids' toys. Good pieces to look for are ottomans and coffee tables with a hinged lid that lifts to reveal hidden storage space. After accumulating even a small collection of these multi-functional pieces, you'll find it hard to ever purchase something without this feature again.

Showcase Your Windows

Windows can work wonders for small spaces. Whether yours look out onto busy sidewalks or a small patch of grass in the side yard, show it off. Letting natural light seep through will lift your spirits and peering outside will open up your space. Another trick that works the same kind of magic: mirrors!

Choose Furniture That Can Wear Several Hats

You may not be on-board for a roll-away bed, but I'd bet you could get behind the pictured couch-by-day, bed-by-night. The low-sitting coffee table can slip under the sofa while the desk acts as a side table. Multifunctional furniture pieces like these are the MVPs of a small-space home. Tip: Purchase metal folding chairs for your dining table for an inexpensive industrial look. As soon as dinner's over, you can just stash 'em away.

Stick With a (Mostly) Neutral Color Palette

It's true: dark colors — cozy and moody as they might be — make a space feel smaller. Light ones make it feel airy and open. That being said, no need to be entirely bland in the color department. Pick your favorite neutrals — white, light woods, blush pink, soft grey — for your foundation, then play with bolder and brighter hues in accent decor and accessories.

Clear Things Up

When square footage is scarce, filling yours with heavy, dark furniture is a surefire way to make your space feel cramped. Instead, look to glass and acrylic furniture that adds little visual weight to the room and lets your gorgeous floors or striking rug show through.

Invest in an Island

A large kitchen island is a hardworking multitasker, adding ample counter space for meal prep then transforming into a casual dining space for everyone to gather round. 

Loft It Up

We can't leave you with 15 tips without mentioning one of the most classic tricks to inventing more space in your home. Turn a loft into your office space, a spare pantry, craft room or kids' play room.

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