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Design Small Spaces

Updated: 2019-01-03

Bigger isn't always better. Decorating a small house, studio apartment, room, or any other space may seem overwhelming, but plenty of homeowners or renters have transformed their small spaces into stunning and stylish residences. With these interior design tips, learn how to capture your style in a smaller home and still keep the illusion of a spacious, open room. As an added bonus, we've provided some tips for storage in small spaces as well. 

A few space-saving tips can completely transform your small house into a stylish oasis. Whether you're looking to survive a small bathroom or make the most of your living room space, you've come to the right place. This article provides tips and further resources for small space layout design and storage for small rooms or small apartments, homes or studios. Below are our top tips for decorating space-saving rooms to take advantage of every square inch of your space: 

Bassett Ventura

Make Your Space Look Bigger

To decorate a small home, studio apartment, room, or space so it looks bigger, make sure to use the right scale of furniture. That means neither too big, which would simply take too much of the space, nor too small, which would often make space look cluttered. The idea is to make storage look invisible and to lighten and brighten your space. The need to decorate small studio apartment spaces requires even more planning than larger spaces do. Read on and learn about our studio apartment design ideas.

Make Each Space Multi-Functional

In any size home, you probably want to be able to sleep, eat, entertain, work from home, and more! Because utility is key, choose furniture pieces carefully that are both beautiful and multi-functional to save space. For example, an ottoman can serve as a storage ottoman can serve as a footrest, center console, and bookshelf. You would ultimately be replacing three pieces of furniture with one, and saving space in the process. When purchasing a TV stand, console or credenza, make sure you find one with plenty of drawers or cabinets for ample storage. Look for flexible furniture of lasting quality. That way, if you ever decide to spread out into a larger space, you will have something to bring with you that doesn't look like it belongs in the old place. 

Use Light To Your Advantage

Decorating a small living room is all about arrangement and creating the illusion of space.  Whenever you can create a more open, light environment, do so—your whole space will be more inviting. One of the best ways to do this is through a combination of natural light and mirrors:

Maximize Natural Light: Maximizing light from windows creates a feeling of openness, not only from the light itself but from the fact that in order to maximize natural light, you should leave room in the pathway of the light itself and choose window treatments that have a more open feel. 

Use Mirrors: One great way to expand the existing light in your home, natural or otherwise, is to use mirrors. Using mirrors is basically like adding an extra window, as placing a mirror opposite a window doubles your view. Using over-sized or decorative mirrors to not only add a bit of glam but to create some breathing room. Surprisingly. a large floor mirror can be particularly effective in a small space. 

Choose furniture that is compact and round

Choosing compact furniture with rounded edges can be a major space saver. A sprawling sectional would be too much, but a sofa or sectional sized just right for smaller spaces can actually make space appear roomier. Mid-century modern style furniture often works well because it is low slung and features spindly legs, and both of those features enhance the feeling of space. Round dining tables and curvy chairs with spindly legs also work well. Select pieces carefully, and edit fiercely.

Saving space in each type of room

Below are some space-saving tips for every type of room in the house. If you are looking for more specific information about saving space in particular types of rooms, we have several guides that provide tips for arranging these rooms specifically. These guides are linked at the bottom of each section. 

Small living rooms

A storage ottoman functions as a footrest, a storage space, or occasionally a table with the help of a tray. Tuck one or two ottomans under a console and – voila! Extra guest seating. You could also use a sideboard as a media console or entertainment center, mounting the TV above; or you could use a thin writing desk as a slender table behind the couch. Place a wall shelf next to the front door or above the sofa to take full advantage of vertical space. When you decorate a small studio apartment, storage pieces provide the key to hiding clutter.

Additional small living room storage tips:

  • Go vertical with your storage options. When you don't have a lot of space on the floor, vertical storage can make all the difference. For extra storage, use tall pieces of furniture such as bookshelves and cabinets to draw the eyes up toward the ceiling, not down toward the crowded floor. 
  • Coffee tables with built-in storage, such as extra shelves or drawers, serve a dual purpose when it comes to keeping your living room organized. Place a few books and candles on top for decoration, then use the extra space to store items such as magazines, remote controls and matches. 

Knotty Oak Sideboard Bassett Furniture

Arranging small bedrooms

Decorating a small bedroom is all about storage. You can invest in beds and other bedroom furniture pieces that have extra storage perks without compromising style. If you're not interested in purchasing a bed frame with drawers, consider a storage bench at the foot of your bed that is both stylish and functional, as storage ottomans/benches can be used effectively in more places than just the living room. 

For more info on arranging small bedrooms, check out these small bedroom ideas.

Additional small bedroom storage tips:

  • Use the space under your bed to hide away out-of-season clothing and extra bedding. If you don't like the idea of under-bed storage boxes, you can always cover them up with a bed skirt. 
  • Maximize your closet space with closet organizers, bins and shelving. A well-organized closet will keep the clutter out of eyesight and neatly stored away. 
  • Use a nightstand that has extra storage to hold anything you don't want on display. Instead of buying a nightstand with a single shelf, try finding a nightstand with a cabinet or drawers. 
  • If you need a storage solution for a small bedroom, invest in a storage bed. They offer just as much storage as a dresser, eliminating the need for a dresser in the room. They also collect fewer dust bunnies and allergens beneath them then the average dresser.

Bassett Furniture - Chatham Storage Bed

Small dining rooms and kitchens

Get the most out of every piece. You can decorate the surface and also store serving ware, candles, linens, or other items in the drawers. Make sure your furniture isn't bulky; you can find cupboards or drawers for entertaining that serve other purposes as well. A sleek sideboard, buffet, server or credenza can hold food, drinks, or other decorative items on top. For example, you can use a fun credenza like Bassett's Soho Credenzas to store wares that you need but rarely use. Placed between your kitchen and dining area, your credenza can even provide space for a bar tray when you entertain. 

For more info on arranging small kitchens or dining rooms, check out this article on small kitchen and dining room ideas.

Studio apartments and small, open spaces

While an open floor plan is appealing in any size space, a bed calls for a certain amount of privacy. With creative studio apartment design ideas, you can make sure your guests don’t have to eat on the Bassett Cooperbedspread. The key when using multi-functional furniture to help create space in a studio apartment is to delineate the “bedroom” from the kitchen/dining/living room. A large rug under the bed and another rug centered in the “living room” helps define each area. Room dividers like curtains, a folding screen, or better yet, a multi-functional bookcase provide visual separation. Furniture arrangement also creates separate areas. Place a console desk or table across from the foot of your bed, and behind the sofa, and your guests will naturally be looking away from the bed into the “living room.” 

For more on studio space design, check out this article on open space arrangements

Decorating and storage for small bonus rooms, guest rooms, and home offices:

Bonus rooms, including guest bedrooms and home offices, are great places to maximize space. You can place a desk in a guest bedroom. If the desk has adequate storage, it can double as a drawer space for your guests. You can also place a television on a tall dresser, where it can double as a TV stand, as your guest bedroom and occasional home office can now be used as a bonus entertainment room. If you like to use this space for any of these purposes, you can choose a desk that can double as a dining table.

For more on home offices, check out this article on office space arrangement.

Small bathroom storage and design:

Bathrooms are a great place to use efficent design. Use the space above your toilet to hold items such as toilet paper, cotton balls and cotton swabs. You can also add shelves for a more open look or an over-the-toilet cabinet to keep everything hidden away. Add a shelf above the bathroom door to store any bathroom items you don't use often. The space above your door is the perfect place for toilet paper and extra hand towels. It is also so out of the way your guests probably won't even notice it is there. 

Design and storage for small entryways or foyers:

Often a small room, foyers or entryways form a guest’s first impression. Sure, you could put conventional entryway furniture there to hold your house keys and occasional stamped letter, but if you choose a media console instead, with shelves and doors, you could hide half the things jammed into your coat closet, plus albums, laptops and other media equipment, kids’ toys and much more.

For more on foyer design, check out this article on entryway updates

Shop Small Furniture At Bassett

When it’s time to decorate small spaces, the challenge is to make the most of your square footage and still find room to express your style. Through careful selection of furniture, along with creative arrangement, small spaces can be much more than just livable – they can be delightful! 

Shop Small Living Room Furniture
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