33 Best Small Space Design Tips

33 Best Small Space Design Tips

Rebecca Orlov
Mar 9, 2009

A few months ago, we asked you to share your fave small space design tips and there were some great ideas! We loved your suggestions and enthusiasm and definitely picked up some fab tips for our own small space. After the jump, check out the compiled list and pick up a tip or two.

1) If you have a small space use small pieces that fit the scale of the apartment. Your space will feel bigger.

2) Keep it clean!

3) Get rid of the clutter. Have a place for everything and then everything can go back in its place.

4) In small spaces, there never seems be enough space for clothing, books, electronic media, work areas but rather than lots of traditional freestanding dressers, cabinets, desks, etc. consider built-ins and modular furniture systems that can be configured to fit your space wall-to-wall and floor-to ceiling and accommodate all your storage needs in one compact area.

5) Dual purpose! Look for multiple uses in everything you buy. An ottoman is cozy, but an ottoman with hidden storage is even better.

6) Furniture with legs feels less heavy in a space than pieces that sit directly on the floor.

7) Go vertical and use the space up to the the ceiling whenever possible - shelves and storage that have a small footprint but are tall can really help in a small space.

8) As for organization, really think about how you use your house. Where do you like to read your mail? Flip through magazines? Pay bills? Then place storage and trash bins in the places where you will be handling paper and other cluttering items.

9) Enjoy the cozy feeling of a small space.

10) Spend more money on getting one or two taller piece (like bookcases). Try to confine your cluttery possessions (mail, books, ipod, etc) to a few concentrated zones instead of thinly spread out all over the place!

11) Glass-front bookcases (or barrister bookcases). For some reason things *feel* less cluttered if they are behind glass.

12) My tip would be to draw yourself a floorplan and organize yourself and the stuff you already own with the help of it.

13) Walk into your apartment and create your space from that viewpoint. You don't want to see the back of your tv from that perspective, and a few other not quite neat sides of things.

14) Don't be afraid of color. Yes, white makes a room look bigger, but so does dark brown glossy paint (etc) when paired with the right color furnishings.

15) Don't try to furnish it all at once. Start with the most important piece (clearly a place to sleep---couch, Murphy bed, actual bed) and live with it a while before you start adding.

16) Arrange the space so it meets your needs for the way you truly use it, and put money into the areas where you spend the most time. If you always eat in the living room, maybe that means investing in a coffee or side table that's really comfortable to eat from and forgoing a separate dining area altogether.

17) Don't go hog-wild at any store until you're sure that you need it. I made a list of all the things I "thought" I would need when I moved in, but after unpacking, half those things were no longer needed (due to space constraints). What a hassle.

18) Think of your furniture as being mobile and multipurpose. Choose things that are easy to pick up and move, and then plan to move things around to suit different purposes.

19) Edit, edit, edit. Look at everything with a critical eye. If you have a chair that you just don't love, get rid of it. If you notice you miss having a chair, find one that you love, is a better scale and a better investment of your space. Don't store anything that you don't need.

20) Get a storage bed, so you don't have to have a dresser.

21) Consider furniture that blends in visually with your floor or walls, whether it is transparent or similar in color.

22) Don't be afraid of big art/wall hangings, especially in a color that recedes (like blue) to make the space look bigger. Keep things visually interesting in the space you do have. Mirrors can help magnify the space.

23) Unless you're really starting with a blank slate, for everything new you bring in, take out something old. Don't hang onto things for forever just because they might come in handy.

24) Don't design for 'in case when guests come over'. the seats you have for yourself - TV couch, reading lounger, desk chair, dining chair, stool - will be enough seating for 7-8 visitors.

25) Clear furniture can do wonders.

26) Expandable dining table.

27) Large mirror to give the illusion of more space.

28) Lots of lamps.

29) A dark floor against light colored walls and furniture can really make a place feel more spacious.

30) Really invest in a closet organization system. You'd be surprised how on track that can keep you and you could always just shut the door.

31) Try to avoid pieces taking up floorspace. Instead of a bookcase, use bookshelves.

32) Combine loves and needs

33) There are no rules.

Check out even more small space ideas from Apartment Therapy:

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