The 10 Commandments of Small Space Living

published Sep 26, 2014
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(Image credit: Ana Kamin)

Is your small space starting to get a bit cramped, a little claustrophobic? Maybe you’re downgrading to a more petite pad and you’re feeling a little freaked. We can help. If you follow these 10 commandments, you’ll be happily living small in no time.

1. Thou shalt declutter your domicile

Especially in a small space, clutter can completely take over and make your home feel even smaller than it already is. Get it under control and take back your space, no excuses.

How To: Declutter Your Home

2. Thou shalt get a system to stay organized

Once you’ve gotten blissfully organized, you want to make sure to keep it up. Spend a few bucks and a few hours setting up a system so, even if you have limited space, everything has a place to go. It will keep you on track and your home feeling cozy not crazy.

3. Thou shalt make your furniture do double duty

When you have limited space, double duty furniture is a must. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of every inch you can? Think storage benches, under-bed boxes or even simple ideas like a dresser used as a nightstand.

4. Thou shalt be careful with color

You know we love color but it’s a powerful tool so be a bit careful. Get familiar with the properties of certain colors and what they can do for your space before you take the plunge. Already have a tiny, cave-like bedroom? Darks might not be the way to go as they’ll make it feel even…ahem…cozier. Consider the amount of light, how you’d like to feel in that space and your room size to make sure you make the smartest choice.

5. Thou shalt utilize your wall space

There’s plenty of valuable real estate all over your home, not just on the floor. Shelves, cabinets and even simple, cheap (and endlessly customizable) pegboard racks can get your belongings organized while keeping them from taking up your limited floor or counter space.

(Image credit: Dabney Frake)

6. Thou shalt scrutinize scale

A common mistake we see in small homes is maxing out on the small scale furniture to save space. Please, no more doll house living! Mix up the scale with a few larger statement pieces, or utilize your wall space with large scale art (ahem…see above) to add some heft.

7. Thou shalt embrace visually light furniture

Here’s a handy little tip: visually light furniture will allow you to have much more in a space without its seeming cramped! Think acrylics, hairpin or MCM tapered legs, or any other airy style that leaves plenty of empty space around your pieces.

(Image credit: David Tsay)

DIY Tree Slab Side Table with Hairpin Legs

8. Thou shalt spend time outside your home

Here’ s the truth: no matter how perfectly designed your tiny home is, you still need to get out and about to avoid cabin fever. Make a point to actually use all the great places available to you like public parks, the library, coffee shops or any place where you can camp out and get a change of scenery for a few hours.

9. Thou shalt keep it clean

Dirt builds up terrifyingly fast in any home but in a small home it can seem almost instantaneous (and there’s nowhere to go to get away from the mess). Get proactive, get on a schedule and nip that dirty, depressing situation in the bud.

10. Thou shalt keep your sense of humor

There will always be a few trying moments when existing in a small space, especially a shared one, but your sense of humor will see you through. Take heart in the fact that not only are you using less, you’re getting out and participating in your community more. Everyone has a few gripes at home; at least cleaning 14 palatial bedrooms isn’t one of yours. Enjoy your efficient, cozy and charming space and make it the best you can.

*Re-edited from a post originally published 9.26.2014 — AH