10 Tips for Making Your Small Space Work for You

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Updated August 16, 2021
Person sitting on sofa in a small apartment room
Cavan Images/Cavan via Getty Images

These ideas make it possible to live large in even the smallest of spaces

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Moving into a studio apartment or a small house doesn’t mean you have to give up on your big decoration dreams (it didn’t stop Carrie Bradshaw). The right accessories and furniture as well as some creative storage hacks will make your home feel spacious and comfortable with the square footage you already have. Use these tips to get the most out of your small space.

1. Reimagine Your Nightstand

If your bedroom is barely big enough to fit a bed, rethinking your nightstand is a must. Skip the full-size table and opt for a shelf built directly into the wall beside your bed instead. There are plenty of pre-fabricated options that are designed with bedside belongings in mind, but this small piece of furniture is especially easy to DIY and customize. Alternatively, choose a set-up that hangs down from the ceiling and save your wall space for something else entirely.

2. Make the Most of Under-the-Bed Storage

Futons and low-to-the-ground beds have no place in a small home. Buying a bed frame that’s elevated or even equipped with cabinets makes it possible to take full advantage of a spot in your house or apartment that you’d never normally use. If you’re living in an especially small space—like a studio—investing in a loft bed will even give you enough room to build a hang-out zone or office where you wouldn’t have been able to before.

3. Ditch Your Doors

Removing doors is an extremely simple way to make your small space feel larger in a matter of minutes. If it can easily pop off the hinge—and your landlord won’t have a problem with it—remove it and be amazed by how much extra wall and walking space you’ll win back.

4. Invest in Wall Storage

Wall storage is essential for getting the most out of tiny rooms. But think beyond the most basic shelving units. In the kitchen, pegboards and magnet strips are ideal for hanging pots, pans, and knives when cabinet space is limited. Hidden closets and in-wall bookshelves will add a layer of excitement to your home while also making it more efficient.

5. Rely on Mirrors and Reflective Finishes

Nothing makes a small home feel bigger faster than a mirror (or a few!). Be sure to place them strategically in spots that feel especially cramped—like in an entryway or a teeny-tiny bathroom. But don’t stop there. Reflective surfaces have similar space-opening benefits and can be applied in many places where a traditional mirror can’t. Opting for a coffee table with a polished metal finish or shiny silver picture frames will do the job nicely.

6. Keep Bright Patterns and Colors to a Minimum

Modern small bathroom with large mirror
irina88w/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

While bright patterns and colors definitely aren’t off limits in small homes, they should be used with discretion. Having too many at once can make your already itty-bitty space feel more cramped and crowded than it actually is. When in doubt, start by decorating with a max of two to three colors and patterns. If it still feels like it needs more from there, add one at a time to make sure you’re not overdoing it.

7. Embrace Multipurpose and Folding Furniture

If the tiny house craze has taught us anything, it’s that furniture can and should do multiple things in small spaces. You’ll gain so much extra room from investing in a table that can also fold into a bench or a shelf when it’s not being used for dining. A couch that doubles as a sneaky spot for storing sheets and pillows will clear your closet for the things you actually need on a day-to-day basis (you know, like underwear and t-shirts). And a coffee table that can be transformed into armchairs will be perfect for keeping your space clear when it’s just you as well as creating a welcoming spot for guests when you’re hosting a gathering.

8. Make Your Space Appear Bigger With Large Furniture

Though it may seem counterintuitive, big furniture does a better job at making a home feel large than small furniture. That’s because bigger pieces trick our brains into thinking that a space is also bigger, whereas smaller ones make it seem even smaller. For example, one sizable couch will do a better job of expanding your studio apartment than several small arm chairs.

9. Use a Room Divider to Split up the Spaces in Your Home

Having just a single room for sleeping, eating, and hanging out is arguably one of the biggest drawbacks of a studio apartment. But adding a room divider in your home can quickly make it feel like you have multiple areas for different purposes. These unique pieces of furniture don’t take up a lot of space and are easy to incorporate into just about any layout. Standing options require little to no effort to set up, but there are also varieties that can be hung directly from the ceiling if you don’t mind a little extra work and would rather avoid obstructing valuable floor space.

10. Hire a Local Interior Designer to Find the Best Layout for Your Home

If you’re really not sure about the best way to enlarge your small space, an interior designer in your area will be more than happy to help you figure it all out. Hiring a local interior designer will cost around $50 to $200 per hour and $5 for $15 per square foot, which means it’s an option that’s more affordable for small-space living.

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