5 Small-Space Design Rules to Break

These tiny apartments break all the rules. The results are large on style despite small square footage.

By: Susan Kleinman

Make It Light

Yes, light colors can make a space look larger. But if you prefer a stylish look over a sizable one, you may opt to paint the walls a dark shade anyway. In this tiny apartment living room, HomePolish used Benjamin Moore's Caribbean Azure to create a memorable effect. "When you're painting a small space," says Noa Santos, "use a satin or semigloss finish. The walls will have a reflective quality that preserves the light in the room." Photography by Francisco Aguila

Keep It Clutter-Free

The less stuff you have, the bigger your tiny home will appear. But what's the point of having a home if you can't fill it with the things you love? In this tiny bedroom, HomePolish lined a wall with favorite photos and memorabilia. What makes it work? Full-throttle commitment. A few photos scattered here and there would have looked like clutter, but this many of them, massed together like this, create a wallpaper-like effect. Photography by Francisco Aguila

Break All the Rules

The tiny, multipurpose living space Andrew Suvalsky created in his own apartment breaks all these small-space rules. The furniture is all full-sized. The color is vivid orange. The print on the two beds is large-scale, and the flokati rug takes up plenty of visual and physical space. But the room still looks great and functions beautifully. How did he pull it off? By choosing pieces perfectly measured for the space and placing them against the walls, Suvalsky created the feeling of built-ins, which make a room look well-designed and spacious. And while the palette is bold, it’s restricted to just a few colors for a look that is cohesive, not chaotic. Photography by Mark Byron

Hide the Bed

Murphy beds. Sofa beds. Folding screens. There are as many ways to hide a bed as there are tiny studios in New York City. But for his own 450-square-foot apartment, interior designer Timothy Brown decided to place the bed center stage. "Rather than thinking about hiding or dividing the space," says Brown, "I thought of the bed as extra seating with the sofa and chairs." His advice for making a bed feel like part of the seating plan: "Keep the furniture low, and all around the same height." Photography by Brad Stein Photography

Use Only Small-Scale Patterns

Petite polka dots and tiny flowers: That’s the conventional wisdom for using pattern in small spaces. But designer Killy Scheer of Frisson Design decided to go unconventional in this 365-square-foot apartment. "The narrow hallway is a core element in this small apartment, so I wanted it to be an experience," says Scheer. "I went for chunky horizontal stripes because the horizontal orientation draws people through the apartment, leading them to the next room." Photography by Killy Scheer

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