Modern gray table against the wall with a mirror above it

Design Tips for Small Spaces

Now that we’ve all been stuck at home for months on end and are craving time in the great outdoors, I’m sure some of you are looking for ways to make your small space feel a little roomier and less cluttered. Whether you’re trying to find ideas for your dorm room, condo, or are just looking to spruce up a small room in your home, we’ve got some great design tips to share. Designing a small space may seem daunting but hey, if the people on “Tiny House, Big Living” can do it, so can we!

An example of built-in shelves that are sturdy, stylish and dependable.

Sturdy, stylish and dependable, a built-in might be just the thing for you if you’re looking to make the most of a smaller space. With the ability to be tailored to match the dimensions of your home they make the perfect pieces to really open an area up. While a built-in may not always be the most affordable option, and sadly cannot be taken from home to home, they are a sensible and aesthetically pleasing way to stow or display items and maximize your home’s storage space. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to built-ins, bask in how gloriously multifunctional they are and their ability to make your room feel a lot bigger and a lot less cluttered. Pictured above is a lovely Ikea built-in, in the color “Simply White” from Benjamin Moore, which is also a super inexpensive option if you don’t feel ready to invest in a customized, higher priced piece. Just don’t get too attached!

An example of a mirror making a room feel much larger than it is.

Everyone loves a good mirror, and they can be so much more than just a place to look for kale between your teeth! A great mirror will not only compliment the rest of your décor, but also make your place feel so much larger. Small living spaces tend to feel rather confining, especially if they’re not only lacking in room, but in natural light as well. Mirrors are versatile and can replicate the look of a window, and amplify light, making them a must-have for tight spaces.

In the room above, not only does this mirror create a sophisticated vignette, but notice how we catch the reflection of the door, giving the illusion of a passage to another room.

Living room with great lighting, a lighter color palette and some personal touches.

Most warm and welcoming spaces have one thing in common, good lighting. A well-lit room can make any space feel open and inviting, and so can the color palette you choose. Deciding on a lighter shade of paint will leave the space feeling airy and provides a blank canvas to which you can add your own personal touch. A glossier finish will help to reflect more light. Darker colors, or a matte finish, tend to absorb light, which in turn can make an already small space feel, you guessed it, even smaller. The combination of a lighter color and proper lighting will be key. However, your small space doesn’t have to be all white, you can totally have fun with a few color accents.

Note how the colorful pillows and window treatments make this bright room pop!

Built in storage furniture that doubles as a desk chair for a minimalist look.

I know how hard it can be to pick favorites! Whether it’s a collection of Royal Albert China handed down by your great grandmother, or the antique wardrobe that you picked up at the flea market, it will be essential to decide which of these deserve a spot in your new small space. You won’t have room for everything, and too many pieces will make a room look cluttered, so make sure to choose items that serve a purpose or have great sentimental value. This is the time to Marie Kondo your room.

Note how the built-in storage unit doubles as a desk. The world of furniture design has developed many multi-purpose pieces that will maximize use of space.  

Cozy sitting area underneath the staircase with a built-in bookshelf.
from @allusterstorage
White kitchen with a focus on the built-in fridge.
from The Stony Brook House, Lori Leeper

It’s really important to use every available square foot. In a previous blog on how to create your own at home workspace (which you should totally go check out), we introduced the idea of a closet with a built-in desk. Other ideas include storage areas beneath a staircase, cupboards that extend to the ceiling, or recessed shelving between your wall joists. Think back to Harry Potter, wasn’t he ingeniously located in a quaint “bedroom” beneath the staircase.

Example of see-through furniture that fit well into a small space.

See-through furniture can be such a fun way to design a smaller space because the transparency of the pieces will make even the tiniest room feel palatial. Think of classic pieces such as the Louis Ghost chair by Phillipe Starck, or perhaps a more affordable replica. In the room above note the use of a glass coffee table. Its simple elegance makes this room feel chic, and yet there’s still space for storage. The light from the window is completely unobstructed and that’s why we love the look! It’s also valuable to mention how the poufs, pictured just below the glass table, serve as great storage instruments as well and can be such a fun way to decorate your home.

Bright living room with an office in the corner.

Another cool idea to consider is dual-purpose furniture, like this grey sofa-bed. They come in all shapes and sizes and not only are you saving money, but space too. Sofa-beds are super comfortable, and you’ll no longer have to worry about storing a guest bed for when the in-laws come pay an unexpected visit or one of your girlfriends needs a place to crash.

Modern, clean dining room, kitchen and living room in a small apartment.

This condo is a perfect example of a small space that has been appropriately designed and decorated to make up for its low square footage. With the open floorplan, great balance of tasteful decorations and the variety of storage options, this home really makes the most of a limited area. The windows allow for tons of natural light to flow through, and the curtain rods seem to purposely be hung higher, as if to create the illusion of a larger room.

Truthfully, none of us know how much longer we’ll be stuck at home, so I hope you were able to pick up some fun new ideas on how to make the most of your smaller space!

So… why now?

So, if you have been hesitating to embark on a renovation project, now may be the time to get started. While supply chains are opening up, it may still take several months from the planning phase to the beginning of construction. Recently we have seen a decrease in renos as people have become discouraged by the high prices and long delays. Taking advantage of this slightly quieter moment will help you get ahead of the curve. What are you waiting for, contact a designer!

Thanks for reading!

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