Organize & Clean

6 Tried-and-True Tips for Making Small Spaces More Livable

updated Jul 16, 2020
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It doesn’t matter your home’s size — if it feels small to you, look to one of these top tips for maximizing space in a home. Squeezing in as much usable space as possible makes rooms their most livable by helping a home function smoothly, keeping claustrophobic feelings (and clutter) at bay, and making a home (even a tiny one!) feel more spacious. Here are six tips that might make your small space more enjoyable to live in.

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Small is, after all, highly subjective. For some, a 400 square foot space is small, but manageable. For a larger family, a 1000 square foot house could seem way too tiny. No matter the square footage, it really comes down to being smart about storage and making your space as efficient as possible. So keep these tips in your design tool belt. Not every space will need each idea to be implemented to be successfully space-maximized (and some spaces might not benefit from a darn one). But these are tried-and-true ideas that have worked for countless real small spaces in the past and they just might help your home. And folks who aren’t saddled with small spaces? You can still benefit from these time-tested ideas.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

1. Go vertical
Get creative when it comes to finding extra storage in your space. What about the area above your cabinets? Is there space above any doors for room for a shelf or two or three? Take a look in your closet. Is there wasted space above your clothes rack? There’s just almost always some high spot you can take advantage of when you really take a look at your small space. You can even explore this idea with simple-to-install wall hooks. And yes, storage isn’t the only thing that can go vertical; if you’ve got the DIY spirit and high ceilings, consider adding actual space up high like a loft bedroom. Here are some ideas to inspire vertical storage in your own space:

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

2. Make room dividers functional storage solutions
Some small spaces like studios require a visual divider to make a space its most livable. Don’t waste what could be a great opportunity to add more storage. Instead of just a thin divider, consider a bookshelf or other storage solution so you can make your divider help tame clutter as well as visually divide a space into usable areas. Some ideas to consider:

3. Conceal
Nothing makes a small space seem smaller — and more claustrophobic — than being able to see everything. So consider all the concealing methods available to you. Curtains and other textiles are great and easy to hang across doorways and over shelving. Investing in lidded boxes and baskets you like the look of to hide loose objects is a great idea. Furniture with built-in, hidden storage is worth the investment. Ideas to consider:

4. Declutter
Sorry — are you sick of hearing about this? But it’s honestly it’s the best tip for maximizing space in your home (or you know, not having as much stuff you need to find space to store it in). We’ve posted about it tons of times, and certainly there are plenty of tips to try out. But honestly? The most important thing to try to remember is the idea of learning to let go of your stuff. Instead of holding on to everything or even bringing stuff into the home, consider asking yourself every time your hands are on an object, “Do I really need this?”

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

5. Consider double-duty solutions
Creating a room that pulls double-duty is more than just saying you’re going to do more than one task in a room. It’s about figuring out what each task might need to be its most successful, and making sure you have the right furnishings that allow you to do both tasks calmly and easily. In fact we wrote about double duty rooms this morning. Inspiration:

  • 10 Beautiful Spaces That Do Double Duty
  • Small Space Solutions: 8 Double-Duty Rooms That Work – And Why They Do
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

6. Customize for the perfect fit
Sometimes a little DIY spirit and elbow grease is needed to maximize space. When you take control of building furnishings, storage and more, you can control the size of what you’re making (perfect for squeezing into tight or oddly shaped spaces) and also plan ahead for what kind of things you’ll need to display and store in the future. Not everyone lives in the kind of home that can be customized, but if you do, we highly recommend taking out the tools.

What do you think are the most important methods to try when it comes to maximizing space in small homes? What tried-and-true tips and ideas have worked for you over the years?