5 Tips for Designing for Small Spaces

By: Sara Elliott

Home Design Image Gallery Certain colors can make a room appear to be bigger. See more home design pictures.

If you want dynamic style in a small space, we have some big suggestions that can help. You don't necessarily have to think small, either. Want an instant living room makeover? Trade your wooden coffee table in for a glass-topped model. It'll add some sparkle and make your space look larger, too. Fooling the eye can be a powerful element in good design, and we have just the tricks to turn a skinny parlor, narrow bedroom or puny kitchen into the cozy space you've been dreaming about.


5: Seeing Double With Mirrors

Mirrors create the illusion of space. They also increase the amount of light in a room. For a double whammy, position mirrors opposite windows to take advantage of the natural light and give your room a more open look and feel. You don't have to spend a fortune for decent mirrors, either. Instead of buying one huge mirror, buy two smaller ones and hang them side by side, one under the other, or offset them slightly to create movement and interest. Mirrors also work well behind open shelves and over beds, sofas and fireplaces. When you have a small space, a mirror can be a huge asset.


4: Go for a Light Monochromatic Look

Light colors can make a space appear larger.
Light colors can make a space appear larger.

Using the same light color for your carpeting, drapes and walls can balance a small space and de-emphasize the lines and angles. It's a cheat that will make the walls and ceiling appear to recede, adding the illusion of spaciousness. You might be worried about trading a lively, interesting vibe for the illusion of a few extra inches. In fact, the opposite is true. You can add as much interest as you want with wall hangings, throws and other accessories. A neutral palette will make it easier for you to avoid a crowded, disorganized look when you do start adding in your favorite reds, purples and greens.


3: Scale Down Your Furnishings

A huge couch in a small living room is hard to camouflage, so size your furniture pieces to suit the available area. For a space-friendly sofa, lose the extra stuffing and oversized arms and pick something more streamlined. Choose a smaller coffee table, or go for an ottoman and tray. Opt for a drop-leaf kitchen table or one with removable leaves that you can adapt to your changing needs.

Other ideas you'll like: Buy a narrow dresser that will fit out of sight in your closet. Employ shallow chests that hug walls and leave plenty of room to move around. Use nesting side tables in your living area for versatility and space savings.


2: Choose Multitaskers

Your ottoman can double as a storage chest, and your couch as a bed.
Your ottoman can double as a storage chest, and your couch as a bed.

Ottomans that double as storage chests, chairs that convert into beds and stepping stools that transform into chairs are just three examples of décor items that can do double-duty in a pinch. They're multitaskers that have style and a covert functionality that even people with plenty of space will love. You can extend this principle to your kitchen appliances, too. Conserve precious countertop space by investing in appliances that can perform multiple functions, like toaster ovens and food processors with blender and mixer attachments.


1: Open Shelving

Small spaces can be comfy cozy and totally appealing, but one thing they usually lack is enough storage. When you've used every available inch of area in your cupboards, closets, cubbies and bins, consider storing your belongings in plain sight. Open shelving, either freestanding or wall- mounted, can create storage and style in one convenient stroke. You don't have to keep everything out in the open, either. Bamboo, wood, wicker, glass and cloth boxes can be decorative and still function as hiding places for small collections, utility items and extra stuff. You can showcase Aunt Ellie's prized Dresden bowls and keep a decorative bamboo box filled with your cheese graters and extra silverware right next to it. No one will ever know.

Shelves above your furnace, over the couch, or as a makeshift headboard can create a lot of extra room to store your stuff. Other options: Mount shelves around your windows as an inspired and useful window treatment. Put a shelf over the door in your bathroom to store extra towels. Mount wire shelves in your closets and cupboards to store spices, pot lids and sponges.


Lots More Information

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