In small spaces, the stakes are just higher. You've got less real estate to make designs work, and function is paramount. Here are four big things you might be doing that can really make a small space's design go sour — look out for these mistakes in your small space — they are all easy enough to remedy.
1. Not being flexible with your furniture
Some folks might think going big is a mistake in a small room. But really the mistake is locking yourself into only one way of arranging your furniture, thanks to furniture that's inflexible. Succeeding in a small space means being able to think — and arrange your furniture — on your toes. It means moving stuff out of the way when you have guests over, and using furniture in different ways so you can have one thing instead of four. You want to keep furniture simple, easy-to-move, and versatile (meaning it can be used in more than one way) — and you might even consider going with multiples of objects when you can instead of one large object (such as a couple of side tables instead of one coffee table). The more flexible your space, the easier it is to configure again and again as your life and needs evolve.
2. Using the storage you were given instead of creating storage you need
It can be easy to "make do" with whatever storage you were given in a small space. And if that mindset helps lighten up your load of stuff to try to make it all fit, well, that's one good thing to come out of. But the really smart choice is figuring out what you need to store — really realistically looking at what you need to keep in your life — and then designing your storage around your stuff. You'll no doubt still use the existing storage you have, but you'll also add the kind of storage that will make sense for your life, instead of just trying to stuff everything you own into the existing storage your home just happened to come with.
3. Thinking you need a certain something
This can befall anyone in any size of home, but it can be fatal in a small space. It's this idea of thinking that a bedroom has to have two nightstands and/or a dresser to be a bedroom. It's the idea of thinking that you've got to have a dining table to enjoy a meal. It's letting previous homes and common thinking arrange and decorate your current home. It's giving priority to someone else's needs. So be open-minded and really approach a small space thinking about the functions you need it to support. Keep or don't keep furniture types based on that — nothing else.
4. Not going custom when you can
Custom can apply to a lot of things, from custom storage shelving to custom-made furniture that's the exact size you need to fit into a weirdly-sized or shaped spot in your small home. Custom can be expensive if you're not terribly handy, but if you can afford it or can pull off the DIYing, creating custom pieces for a small home can be the difference between really making the most of a tiny space or working around something awkward that doesn't quite fit. And you don't have to have entire furniture sets built from scratch; sometimes even just wall-mounting certain elements can be a custom solution that works for your small home.
Re-edited from a post originally published 8.14.15-NT