6 TV Shows That Have Smart Small Space Ideas

updated May 18, 2021
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Credit: Comedy Central

TV shows are famous for putting their characters in extravagant and unrealistic homes, especially those based in cities (the prime real estate found in “Friends” and “Sex and the City” comes to mind). But some shows make a point to portray smaller, more realistic homes, and the small space hacks that come with the tiny territory .

From the living room-turned-bedroom in NYC from “The Bold Type,” to the small apartment for the “One Day at a Time” family of four in Los Angeles, here are a few TV homes that make the most of their small spaces:

When a wealthy family loses everything, they have no choice but to move to “Schitt’s Creek,” a small town that they bought as a joke years before. The Rose family are given two adjoining motel rooms to restart their lives in. Adult siblings David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) share one room, which they struggle to organize at first. David, with the help of one of Alexis’ boyfriends, builds a wooden chest to store his sweaters in. He keeps it at the foot of his twin bed so that it doesn’t further clutter the room. In the other room, which husband and wife duo Johnny (Eugene Levy) and Moira (Catherine O’Hara) share, the walls are the greatest asset. Moira’s most prized possession is her wig collection, which she stores on hooks nailed into the walls and bathroom door of her room. 

Credit: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

When Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) moves in with Tituss (Tituss Burgess) in the pilot episode of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” she barely notices that the small New York basement apartment is actually a one bedroom. Tituss sleeps in the bedroom and he offers Kimmy his “office,” a tight space that barely fits a twin bed. Kimmy, who spent the last 15 years in a bunker, is thrilled to have her own window. The roommates use a plastic curtain in the doorway to give the space a sense of privacy and make it into more of an actual room. 

Credit: Freeform

At the start of “The Bold Type,” Sutton (Meghan Fahy), Kat (Aisha Dee), and Jane (Katie Stevens) work as a fashion assistant, social media director, and writer, respectively. As 20-somethings in the world of New York magazine publishing, the girls’ budgets are tight. Kat’s parents help pay for her nice loft for the first few seasons, but Sutton and Jane combine their salaries to share a small apartment. To manage having a one bedroom for two single people, Sutton’s bed is in the living room, right behind their couch. It allows the two to have their own spaces at night and provides further seating when they have people (namely, Kat) over during the day.

Credit: John P. Fleenor / ©HBO / courtesy Everett Collection


For the first two seasons of “Insecure,” Issa (Issa Rae) lives in a one bedroom apartment at The Dunes (an actual building) in Inglewood, Los Angeles. She shares the place with her then-boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis), for the first season. In the small living room, there is a couch against a windowed wall facing a television. In between are two chairs and a coffee table, facing away from the TV, to allow for additional lounging when Issa is entertaining more than just Lawrence.

Credit: Comedy Central

At the start of “Broad City,” 20-somethings Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer) are still figuring out what they want to do with their lives. Abbi, an aspiring artist, works as a cleaner at a gym. Ilana works halfheartedly at an online deal company. Abbi and Ilana live in Queens and Brooklyn, respectively, and both have roommates throughout the series. To make the most of her space and allow for drawing, Abbi has a cubby shelf on her wall, where she can easily store and spread out all of her sketching supplies without cluttering her desk. Rather than adding mess to her tables and surfaces, Ilana uses ceiling and wall hangers to display her plants and store knick knacks.

Credit: Michael Yarish / Netflix

The Alvarez family takes it “One Day at a Time” and makes a small three bedroom apartment in Los Angeles work for four people. Penelope (Justina Machado), Elena (Isabella Gomez), and Alex (Marcel Ruiz) each have their own rooms. Penelope’s mother, Lydia (Rita Moreno), sleeps in a small room — a dining nook — with doorless entryways off of the main living area. Inside the alcove is a pullout couch, where Lydia sleeps. For privacy, they use curtains to cordon off the area. The apartment is a tight fit, but the light yellow walls help open up the space and make it seem larger. The kitchen and living area are divided by a counter space with cabinet doors that can be closed to separate the rooms.