The Most Brilliant Space-Maximizing Ideas to Steal from Families Who Live in Small Homes

published Dec 29, 2022
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Credit: Erin Derby

Who better to steal small-space inspiration from than the families who actually live in small homes, right? Be it a one-bedroom home, a studio apartment, or even a tiny home, the best organizing and furnishing ideas for small spaces (or even big spaces!) comes from the real homes of families. From a genius Murphy bed, to a closet-turned-bedroom, and even a triple-decker bunk bed, here are the eight most brilliant space-maximizing ideas from house tours this year.

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This Amazing Door-Opening Murphy Bed

A family of four lives in this 450-square-foot UK home, and aside from all the super colorful details, we’re inspired by the clever use of the small space to accommodate a whole family. One of the coolest things in the home is the Murphy bed that parents Sofie and Rob sleep in. They designed the bed when they couldn’t find anything they liked enough to purchase, and instead of folding down, the door to the Murphy bed actually swings open, acting as a privacy wall and creating another sleep space at the same time.

These Out-of-the-Box Bunk Beds

Oh, you thought we would only share one of the genius small space hacks from Sofie and Rob’s home? Nope, these bunk beds were too good to pass up. Much like their parents, the kids needed a sleep zone that fit into a tight space, so the couple built playful and modern bunk beds into a room that might be the size of some peoples’ closet, but works perfectly for them.

Credit: Erin Derby

Vertical Storage

Fitting a family of five into a 600-square-foot NYC apartment is no easy feat, but Heather and Michael have made intentional and aesthetic use of their space nonetheless. One of the biggest takeaways from their home is to utilize every inch of vertical storage, as exemplified by their wall-mounted bookcase. In homes with a larger footprint, you might choose to hang artwork above the couch and add a bookcase elsewhere, but with just 600 square feet, this corner bookshelf makes clever use of otherwise wasted wall space.

Credit: Erin Derby

A Closet-Turned-Bedroom

You’ve probably heard of cloffices (closets-turned-offices) by now, but what’s even more difficult to pull off is tucking an entire bedroom into the space of a closet. Amazingly, Kissenia and Kim still managed to pull exactly that off in their Bronx, NYC studio. “We converted what would be considered a traditional studio walk-in closet into our son’s bedroom. We’ve done it twice and both times were a success. The first time we used two IKEA TROFAST frames to create a bed frame for a toddler bed. The second time we modified a metal twin loft bed and it fit in the space without an inch to spare. Now we have repurposed the IKEA TROFAST frames into kitchen storage and a new coffee table.”

Credit: Erin Derby

A Bedroom Corner Nursery

Slightly easier than turning a closet into a bedroom is converting a bedroom corner into a nursery nook, like Marikah and Duran did in their Brooklyn apartment. “Since having our daughter, we turned the corner of our bedroom to a little nursery nook, which is definitely a hidden gem and can’t be seen from outside the room when the door is open (a plus). I love that we added the wallpaper in that corner because it gives her little space character and belonging.”

Credit: Megan Zietz

A Triple-Decker Bunkbed

When sharing 1,110-square-feet in NYC with five people, creative storage and furnishing is key. “We try to buy furniture that doubles as storage,” says Megan Zietz. For example, “the kids’ triple bunk bed even has storage drawers to organize their toys. While we are definitely maximalists we do try to avoid having a lot of unnecessary clutter laying around. Everything has a designated home and is organized as possible.”

Credit: Erin Derby

A See-Through Wall Divider

Sure, you could opt for a classic IKEA KALLAX unit to divide a studio apartment, but a black, glass room divider (with tons of storage) elevates the space just a bit more. “My favorite product would have to be the IKEA VITTSJO glass storage,” says Gaby Neira about the 450-square-foot studio she shares with her partner, “as it functions as our room divider while still allowing natural light into our space, while also serving as book storage and a home to our mini plant collection.”

Credit: Erin Derby

A Teeny Wall-Mounted Desk and Under-Bed Storage

When life gives you a sliver of a wall, use it to mount a desk that fits its exact proportions, and also provides some storage at the same time. That’s what Michal Kolaczkowski and Trevor Kuhn did in their 300-square-foot NYC studio, as well as snuck in some underbed storage in the form of coordinating baskets, so things still look neat and tidy.