Designer Tricks for Small Spaces

Create mini spaces with mega style! We share our top design secrets for how to get the most out of your square footage.

Compact living room with art and accessories

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Comfy and Cozy

Give a small seating group flair by adding pops of art and wall hangings. Layer pillows for extra interest, but make sure the scale of the accessories doesn’t overwhelm the furniture.

White kitchen with rolling island

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Island Style

A rolling island is ideal for a compact kitchen. It’s the perfect problem solver for storage and counter space. If you’re entertaining, just roll it away to maximize floor space.

Lofted bed with galvanized buckets for storage

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Quirky Cool

Make use of a lofted bed and slip galvanized buckets underneath to hold blankets and extras. Think outside the box—kitschy Christmas lights are a fun alternative to a typical light fixture. Go for an odd shape, like these reclaimed shotgun shells.

Compact living room with decorative screens

Photographer Dominique Vorillon

Subtle Elegance

Decorative screens not only act as a design element, but also suffice as a wall to cover storage goods. Measure your coffee table and find an ottoman that can slide underneath it in case you need extra room.

Dining nook with upholstered built-in bench

Photographer Dominique Vorillon

Laid-Back Luxury

An upholstered bench makes great use of corners and tricky spaces. Pick a printed fabric that contrasts the wall color to add more interest to your dining room. Rustic wood chairs and dining tables are the perfect balance to the glam upholstery.

Modern bed with built-in headboard

Photographer Tri Giovan

Beachy Mod

A modern floor bed is ideal for a room with less ceiling height. Low windows are not blocked by a headboard and allow for full sunlight. Custom built-in side tables match the scale of the bed.

Cottage kitchen with long wooden dining table

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Rustic Romance

To achieve a collected-over-time look, display trinkets, glassware and dinnerware in a glass-front cupboard.  A bench is perfect for a small breakfast nook; the long table doubles as chic counter space.

Kitchen with pot rack and glass finials

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Shabby Chic

Tight kitchens need all the help they can get—a pot rack, basket, and glass finials open up counter space. A skirt of fabric underneath countertops is the perfect sweet substitute for cabinets.

Modern bathroom with built-in cabinets

Photographer Lisa Romerein

Built-in Beauty

Large window space usually means less cabinet space. Make up for the loss of storage by adding built-in cabinets below. Fasten towel bars under sinks for a streamlined look that won’t interfere with the view.

Custom built-in modern bed

Photographer Lisa Romerein

Go with the Low

Even though modern design is typically stark and minimal, you don’t need thousands of square feet to pull off the look. Overhead cabinets and custom rolling drawers that fit under the bedframe work in a tiny loft or a sprawling pad and still maintain the clean, contemporary lines.

Living room with sectional sofa

Photographer Tri Giovan

Timeless Design

Sectional sofas don’t have to be heavy or cumbersome—choose a gorgeous upholstered option. Instead of a coffee table, try an old trunk or chest. They add character and offer ample storage for throws, games, and books. Wall sconces are wonderful because they free up end tables for accessories.

Galley kitchen with breakfast bar

Photographer Tri Giovan

Functional with Flair

Lighting and paint are some of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to open up a small space. Natural sunlight streaming through windows gives an airy, natural quality to milky white paint from floor to ceiling. Mini extras, like the ceiling pendant and under-the-counter fridge, are key.

Living room with wall-to-wall windows

Photographer Lisa Romerein

Cue from the View

An unobstructed view (no matter how large your windows are) really opens up a room. Neutral tones enhance airiness, allowing pops of color to add personality to the decor. Instead of walling off the kitchen and dining room, keep everything open for a studio-like floor plan.

Galley kitchen with breakfast bar and lucite stools

Photographer Tri Giovan

Kitschy Kitchen

Open shelving is a cost-effective and cool way to store kitchen goods. It’s also relatively simple to install and doesn’t require a complete kitchen overhaul—spice up the look with vintage-inspired tile. Mirror the shelving with other accessories that seem to “float,” such as these hanging bulbs and Lucite barstools.

Living room with spiral staircase

Photographer Tri Giovan

Red, White, and Beautiful

Spiral staircases are one of the most efficient uses of space. White-on-white design doesn’t have to be boring or fade into the background. Rely on texture to add style points to your room. Amp up the funky factor with pops of hot colors such as this fiery red.

Multipurpose reading nook

Photographer Tri Giovan

Printed Paradise

When working with tight quarters, design spaces that are multipurpose, such as this reading nook/napping spot/overflow bedroom. Curtains in a cheery print add privacy when the space becomes a guest bedroom.

White kitchen with breakfast bar

Photographer Grey Crawford

Fake It

Tone-on-tone color is the never-fail way to create an optical illusion. Go for lighter shades to increase space. (We call it the “little black dress rule:” Dark colors are slimming; white is widening.) Swap out your breakfast table for barstools; they make great use of counter space.

Built-in dining nook

Photographer Grey Crawford

Island Escape

Need to seat more people at your dining table? Benches and built-ins are the answer. Choose raw wood for a rustic look, or a great upholstered fabric on a dust ruffle for a soft touch. Mirrors are another trick of the trade—hang them on walls, dangle them from chandeliers, or use them as tabletops.

Kitchen seating area

Photographer Grey Crawford

Stylish Seating Solution

Benches don’t have to be reserved just for dining purposes. If you don’t want to create a small seating group, these are a great alternative, especially when trying to fill limited wall space. Drawers utilize the height of bench, making storage chic!

Built-in hallway bunk bed

Photographer Jon Jensen

Ship Shape

Bunk beds are always a great option for accommodating a crowd, plus they have an intrinsic nautical feel. Instead of freestanding bunk beds, try built-ins. They nearly double the available square footage in bedrooms, leaving enough space for an additional reading nook for adults or a play area for kids.

Compact bedroom with reading sconces

Photographer Lisa Romerein

Dramatic Draping

Add drama with swags of fabric draping the walls and ceiling. There is something cozy about a tiny room filled with a plush king bed. To make up for lost space, try creative solutions. Reading sconces replace table lamps and a bench at the foot of the bed adds a beachy touch instead of side tables.

Living room with built-in shelving unit

Photographer Dominique Vorillon

Traditional with a Twist

A shelving unit is the ultimate style fixer for a drab room, plus it’s an easy way to add your own personality to a room. Use it as a library, entertainment center, or place to showcase trinkets from traveling. Vary the height, shape, and texture of the displayed objects for a loose feel.

Guest room with daybed and skirted cabinet

Photographer Dominique Vorillon

Boho Chic

Storage doesn’t always have to be boxed, stacked, or streamlined. Create a softer look by draping fabric on a curtain rod for an instant storage solution. Swap out your queen bed for a daybed. You save precious square footage and end up with enough room for an additional piece of furniture, such as a desk or vanity.

Living room with blue Dutch door

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Compact Cottage

Tiny spaces don’t have to sacrifice comfort or cool. Scale and proportion are the two key ingredients to pulling off a small space. Stick to compact chairs with low backs. If you don’t, the room will seem off-balance and will appear smaller. Narrow, low-lying coffee tables are ideal—they save space but still keep the room functional.

Compact nautical galley kitchen

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Sea-Inspired Space

Boats are the ideal design inspiration for tight quarters. This kitchen has a galley-like feel with easy-to-reach dishes on open shelves and stacked appliances for a space-savvy solution. To enhance the nautical style, use stainless steel hardware inspired by boat cleats.

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