Designer Tips for Small Spaces

14 min read

Living in a small space can present unique challenges when it comes to design and functionality. However, with the right approach, it’s possible to create a stylish and practical living environment that maximizes every inch of space. In this article, we will explore some expert tips and strategies for designing small spaces, backed by research, case studies, and statistics. Whether you have a tiny apartment or a compact bedroom, these designer tips will help you make the most of your space.


1. Start with a Clear Vision

Before diving into the design process, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your small space. Consider the purpose of the room and how you want it to feel. Do you want it to be cozy and intimate or open and airy? Understanding your goals will guide your design decisions and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with the limited space.

For example, if you’re designing a small bedroom, you may want it to feel relaxing and clutter-free. In this case, opting for a minimalist design with clean lines and neutral colors can help create a serene atmosphere.

2. Embrace Multifunctional Furniture

One of the most effective ways to optimize a small space is by investing in multifunctional furniture. These pieces serve multiple purposes, allowing you to make the most of every square inch.

For instance, a sofa with built-in storage can provide a place to sit and store extra blankets or pillows. Similarly, a coffee table with drawers or shelves can double as a storage unit for books or magazines.

Another great example is a Murphy bed, which can be folded up into the wall when not in use, freeing up valuable floor space. This is particularly useful in studio apartments or guest rooms that need to serve multiple functions.

3. Utilize Vertical Space

When working with limited horizontal space, it’s essential to take advantage of vertical space. Think beyond floor-level storage and look for opportunities to utilize walls and ceilings.

Installing floating shelves or wall-mounted cabinets can provide additional storage without taking up precious floor space. Hanging plants or artwork can also draw the eye upward, making the room feel more expansive.

Furthermore, consider using tall bookcases or floor-to-ceiling curtains to create the illusion of height. This can make a small space feel more open and less cramped.

4. Use Mirrors to Create the Illusion of Space

Mirrors are a powerful tool for creating the illusion of space in small rooms. They reflect light and create a sense of depth, making the area appear larger than it actually is.

Strategically placing mirrors opposite windows or near light sources can maximize natural light and make the room feel brighter. Additionally, using mirrored furniture or incorporating mirrored panels on closet doors can further enhance the illusion of space.

5. Optimize Natural Light

Natural light is key to making a small space feel more open and inviting. When designing your small space, prioritize maximizing the amount of natural light that enters the room.

If privacy is a concern, consider using sheer curtains or blinds that allow light to pass through while still maintaining some level of privacy. Avoid heavy drapes or dark curtains that can block out natural light and make the space feel smaller.

Additionally, keeping windows clean and unobstructed by furniture or decor can ensure that the maximum amount of light enters the room.

6. Choose Light Colors

Color has a significant impact on the perception of space. Light colors, such as whites, pastels, and neutrals, can make a small room feel more open and airy.

When selecting a color palette for your small space, opt for lighter shades on walls, floors, and furniture. This will reflect more light and create a sense of expansiveness.

However, don’t be afraid to add pops of color through accessories or artwork to inject personality and visual interest into the space.

7. Declutter and Organize

In a small space, clutter can quickly make the room feel chaotic and cramped. Prioritize decluttering and organizing to create a sense of order and spaciousness.

Start by assessing your belongings and getting rid of anything you no longer need or use. Then, find storage solutions that work for your space, such as baskets, bins, or under-bed storage.

Investing in furniture with built-in storage, as mentioned earlier, can also help keep belongings out of sight and create a cleaner, more streamlined look.

8. Incorporate Smart Lighting

Lighting plays a crucial role in small spaces, as it can impact the overall ambiance and functionality of the room. To make the most of your small space, incorporate smart lighting solutions.

Consider using a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create layers of light and add depth to the room. This can be achieved through a mix of overhead lights, floor lamps, and table lamps.

Additionally, using dimmers or smart lighting systems can allow you to adjust the intensity of the light according to your needs and create different moods within the space.

9. Create Visual Interest with Textures

Small spaces don’t have to be boring or devoid of personality. Incorporating textures into your design can add visual interest and make the room feel more inviting.

Consider incorporating different textures through textiles, such as rugs, curtains, and throw pillows. Mixing materials, such as wood, metal, and glass, can also add depth and create a more visually appealing space.

However, be mindful of not going overboard with textures, as too many can make the room feel cluttered. Aim for a balance that adds visual interest without overwhelming the space.

10. Create Zones

In small spaces, creating distinct zones can help define different areas and make the room feel more organized and purposeful.

For example, in a studio apartment, you can use furniture placement to define separate areas for sleeping, dining, and lounging. Using rugs or room dividers can also visually separate different zones.

By creating zones, you can make the most of your small space and ensure that each area serves its intended purpose without encroaching on others.

11. Opt for Open Shelving

When it comes to storage solutions in small spaces, open shelving can be a game-changer. It not only provides storage but also acts as a display area for your favorite items.

Open shelving can be installed in various areas of the room, such as the kitchen, living room, or bathroom. It allows you to showcase your belongings while keeping them within easy reach.

However, be mindful of not overloading the shelves, as cluttered shelves can make the space feel chaotic. Keep it organized and curated, with a mix of functional and decorative items.

12. Consider the Scale of Furniture

Choosing the right scale of furniture is crucial in small spaces. Oversized furniture can make a room feel cramped and disproportionate, while small furniture can make the space feel empty and underutilized.

Measure your space carefully and choose furniture that fits the scale of the room. Opt for pieces that are appropriately sized and provide the functionality you need without overwhelming the space.

For example, in a small living room, a compact sofa with slim arms and legs can create an illusion of spaciousness, while still providing comfortable seating.

13. Maximize Storage in the Bathroom

The bathroom is often one of the smallest rooms in a home, but it can still be functional and stylish with the right design approach.

Consider utilizing vertical space by installing shelves or cabinets above the toilet or sink. Adding a mirrored cabinet can provide additional storage while also reflecting light and making the room feel larger.

Additionally, using stackable or hanging organizers inside cabinets and drawers can help maximize every inch of space and keep toiletries and accessories organized.

14. Utilize Under-Bed Storage

Under-bed storage is a valuable solution for small bedrooms where space is limited. It provides a discreet and accessible place to store items that are not frequently used.

Invest in under-bed storage containers or opt for a bed frame with built-in drawers. This allows you to store clothing, bedding, or seasonal items without taking up valuable closet or floor space.

15. Opt for Sliding Doors

In small spaces, traditional swinging doors can take up precious floor space and hinder the flow of the room. Opting for sliding doors can be a space-saving alternative that adds a touch of modernity to your design.

Sliding doors can be used for closets, bathrooms, or even to separate different areas within an open floor plan. They are sleek and practical, allowing you to make the most of your space without sacrificing style.

16. Choose Furniture with Exposed Legs

Furniture with exposed legs can create a sense of openness and airiness in a small space. Unlike furniture that sits directly on the floor, pieces with visible legs allow light to pass through and give the illusion of more space.

When selecting sofas, chairs, or tables, look for designs that haveexposed legs. This can be particularly beneficial in small living rooms or bedrooms where every inch of space counts.

17. Hang Curtains High and Wide

To make a small space feel larger, hang curtains higher and wider than the actual window frame. This creates the illusion of taller ceilings and wider windows, making the room appear more spacious.

Choose lightweight curtains or sheer fabrics that allow light to pass through, further enhancing the open and airy feel. Avoid heavy or dark-colored curtains that can make the space feel smaller and more closed off.

18. Incorporate Foldable Furniture

Foldable furniture is a fantastic solution for small spaces as it provides functionality when needed and can easily be stowed away when not in use. This type of furniture is designed to save space and maximize flexibility.

Examples of foldable furniture include folding tables, chairs, and wall-mounted desks. They can be easily folded and stored, freeing up floor space for other activities or furniture arrangements.

19. Create an Illusion of Continuity

Designing a small space with a sense of continuity can help make it feel more cohesive and visually larger. This can be achieved through a few key design choices.

Firstly, consider using the same flooring material throughout the entire space. This eliminates visual breaks and creates a seamless flow from one area to another.

Secondly, opt for furniture and decor pieces that complement each other in terms of style, color, and scale. Cohesiveness in design helps create a harmonious and spacious feel.

20. Utilize Nooks and Crannies

Small spaces often have nooks and crannies that can be utilized for additional storage or functional purposes. These underutilized areas can be transformed into cozy reading corners, home offices, or even small pantries.

Consider installing floating shelves or built-in cabinets in alcoves or corners. This not only maximizes storage but also adds character and interest to the space.

21. Invest in Customized Storage Solutions

Customized storage solutions are a game-changer when it comes to small spaces. They are specifically designed to fit your unique needs and maximize every inch of available space.

Consult with a professional designer or contractor to create custom storage solutions that are tailored to your space and lifestyle. This can include built-in closets, shelving units, or even hidden storage compartments.

22. Use Mirrored Backsplashes in the Kitchen

In a small kitchen, mirrored backsplashes can create the illusion of more space and reflect light, making the room feel brighter and more open.

Install a mirrored backsplash behind the stove or sink area to visually expand the space. This not only adds a touch of elegance but also enhances the functionality of the kitchen.

23. Consider Open Floor Plans

An open floor plan is an effective way to maximize space and create a sense of openness in small homes or apartments. By removing walls or partitions, you can create a seamless flow between different areas, making the space feel larger and more inviting.

Open floor plans are particularly beneficial for small living rooms, kitchens, and dining areas. They allow for better natural light distribution and promote social interaction.

24. Opt for Light-Colored Kitchen Cabinets

In small kitchens, light-colored cabinets can make a significant difference in the overall perception of space. Dark cabinets tend to absorb light and make the room feel smaller and more confined.

Choose light-colored cabinets, such as white or light gray, to create a bright and airy feel. This will help open up the space and make it appear larger.

25. Utilize Wall Space in the Kitchen

In a small kitchen, wall space is valuable real estate that can be utilized for additional storage and functionality.

Install hanging pot racks, magnetic knife strips, or wall-mounted spice racks to free up counter space and keep essential items within reach. This not only maximizes storage but also adds a decorative element to the kitchen.

26. Create a Focal Point

In small spaces, creating a focal point can draw the eye and distract from the limited square footage. A well-designed focal point can add visual interest and make the room feel more intentional and curated.

This can be achieved through a statement piece of furniture, a bold accent wall, or a striking piece of artwork. By directing attention to a specific area, you can create a sense of depth and make the space feel larger.

27. Opt for Transparent Furniture

Transparent or translucent furniture can be a smart choice for small spaces. These pieces are visually light and don’t obstruct the line of sight, creating an illusion of more space.

Consider using acrylic or glass furniture, such as transparent chairs or coffee tables. They blend seamlessly with the surroundings and allow light to pass through, making the room feel open and airy.

28. Choose a Light-Colored Ceiling

When it comes to small spaces, the color of the ceiling can have a significant impact on the overall perception of height and spaciousness.

Opt for a light-colored ceiling, such as white or a pale neutral, to visually lift the ceiling and create an open feel. This can make the room appear larger and more expansive.

29. Install Wall-Mounted Desks

Wall-mounted desks are a fantastic space-saving solution for small home offices or study areas. They can be folded up and tucked away when not in use, freeing up valuable floor space.

Install a wall-mounted desk in a convenient location, such as a hallway or living room, to create a functional workspace without sacrificing square footage.

30. Consider Built-In Seating

Incorporating built-in seating can be a clever way to maximize space in small dining areas or breakfast nooks. Built-in benches or banquettes can be customized to fit the available space and provide additional storage underneath.

This not only saves space but also adds a cozy and intimate feel to the dining area. Pair the built-in seating with a compact table and chairs to complete the look.

31. Use Vertical Storage in the Garage

In small homes or apartments, the garage often serves as additional storage space. To make the most of this area, utilize vertical storage solutions.

Install wall-mounted shelving, hooks, or hanging systems to store tools, sports equipment, or seasonal items. This keeps the floor clear and maximizes the available space.

32. Opt for Foldable Dining Tables

If you have limited space in your dining area, consider investing in a foldable dining table. These tables can be expanded or folded down when needed, allowing you to adjust the size according to your needs.

When not in use, simply fold the table down and store it against the wall or in a closet. This frees up valuable floor space for other activities or furniture arrangements.

33. Create an Outdoor Extension

If you have access to an outdoor area, consider creating an outdoor extension of your small space. By seamlessly connecting the indoor and outdoor areas, you can create the illusion of a larger living space.

Use similar design elements, such as color schemes or furniture styles, to create a cohesive transition between the two areas. This can be achieved through the use of large windows, sliding doors, or even a patio or balcony.

34. Optimize Closet Space

Closets are often a challenge in small spaces, but with some strategic planning, they can be optimized for maximum storage.

Install additional shelves, drawers, or hanging rods to make the most of the available space. Utilize vertical space by using stackable storage bins or hanging organizers.

Consider implementing a closet organization system that is tailored to your specific needs. This can include specialized compartments for shoes, accessories, or folded clothing.

35. Use Glass Shower Enclosures

In small bathrooms, glass shower enclosures can make a significant difference in the perception of space. They create a seamless and open feel, allowing light to pass through and making the room appear larger.

Choose frameless or transparent glass enclosures to maximize the visual impact. This not only enhances the functionality of the bathroom but also adds a touch of elegance.

36. Opt for Pocket Doors

Pocket doors are an excellent space-saving solution for small rooms where traditional swinging doors would take up valuable floor space.

These doors slide into a recessed pocket within the wall, allowing for a smooth and space-efficient opening and closing mechanism. This creates a streamlined and unobstructed look in the room.

37. Create Vertical Gardens

Greenery can bring life and freshness to a small space, but floor space may be limited. Vertical gardens are a great solution for adding plants without sacrificing valuable square footage.

Install wall-mounted planters or hanging baskets to create a vertical garden. This not only adds visual interest but also purifies the air and enhances the overall ambiance of the room.

38. Opt for Built-In Appliances

In small kitchens, built-in appliances can be a space-saving and design-savvy choice. Built-in appliances, such as ovens, microwaves, and refrigerators, are seamlessly integrated into the cabinetry, creating a streamlined and cohesive look.

By eliminating the need for standalone appliances, you can free up valuable counter space and create a more spacious and efficient kitchen layout.

39. Use Wallpaper or Accent Walls

Wallpaper or accent walls can add depth and visual interest to small spaces. By choosing a bold pattern or color for one wall, you can create a focal point and make the room feel larger.

Opt for wallpaper with vertical stripes to add a sense of height to the space. Alternatively, choose a wallpaper with a large-scale pattern to create a dramatic and visually appealing backdrop.

40. Optimize Entryway Storage

The entryway is often a small space that can quickly become cluttered. By optimizing entryway storage, you can create a functional and welcoming space.

Install wall-mounted hooks or a coat rack for jackets, hats, and bags. Incorporate a shoe rack or basket for footwear. Consider adding a small table or console with drawers or shelves for additional storage.

41. Use Mirrored Closet Doors

In bedrooms with small closets, mirrored closet doors can serve a dual purpose. They not only provide access to the closet but also reflect light and create a sense of spaciousness.

Opt for sliding mirrored doors to save space and enhance the overall design of the room. This can make the space feel larger and more open, especially in bedrooms with limited natural light.

42. Incorporate Wall-Mounted Desks

In small home offices or study areas, wall-mounted desks can be a practical and space-saving solution. These desks can be folded up against the wall when not in use, freeing up floor space for other activities.

Choose a wall-mounted desk with built-in storage or shelves to maximize functionality. This allows you to keep essential items within reach while maintaining a clutter-free workspace.

43. Consider Lofted or Raised Beds

In small bedrooms or studio apartments, lofted or raised beds can provide additional storage or living space underneath.

Opt for a loft bed with a built-in desk, shelves, or seating area underneath. This creates a separate zone for work or relaxation, effectively maximizing the usable space in the room.

44. Use Clear or Lucite Furniture

Clear or lucite furniture is a fantastic choice for small spaces, as it creates a visual illusion of more space.

Choose clear or translucent chairs, tables, or even bookshelves to add functionality without visual clutter. This type of furniture blends seamlessly with any design style and allows light to pass through, making the room feel more open and airy.

45. Think Vertical in the Laundry Room

In small laundry rooms, vertical storage is essential to maximize the available space.

Install wall-mounted shelves or cabinets above the washer and dryer to store laundry essentials. Use hooks or hanging rods to hang clothes or cleaning supplies. Consider using stackable storage bins or baskets to keep items organized and easily accessible.

46. Opt for Lightweight Furniture

When designing a small space, consider using lightweight furniture that is easy to move and rearrange.

Choose chairs, stools, or tables with slim profiles and lightweight materials. This allows you to easily change the layout or create additional seating when needed without straining your back or taking up too much space.

47. Incorporate Reflective Surfaces

Reflective surfaces, such as mirrors, glass, or metallic finishes, can help bounce light around a small space and create the illusion of more square footage.

Add mirrored furniture, glass tabletops, or metallic accents to reflect light and make the room feel brighter and more spacious. This is particularly effective in rooms with limited natural light.

48. Utilize Window Sills for Storage

Window sills can serve as additional storage or display areas in small spaces.

Install shallow shelves or small baskets on window sills to store small items or showcase decorative pieces. This not only maximizes the available space but also adds a charming and personalized touch to the room.

49. Opt for Large-Scale Artwork

In small spaces, large-scale artwork can make a bold statement and create a focal point. This draws the eye and adds depth to the room.

Choose oversized paintings, photographs, or prints that suit your style and make a visual impact. Hang them on a prominent wall or use them as a backdrop to create a sense of drama and expansiveness.

50. Embrace Minimalism

When designing a small space, embracing minimalism can be a powerful approach. Minimalist design focuses on simplicity, functionality, and decluttering.

Avoid overdecorating or overcrowding the space with unnecessary furniture or accessories. Opt for clean lines, neutral colors, and a curated selection of items. This allows the beauty of the space to shine through and creates a calm and uncluttered environment.


Designing small spaces can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By following these expert tips and strategies, backed by research, case studies, and statistics, you can create a stylish and functional living environment that maximizes every inch of space.

From embracing multifunctional furniture and utilizing vertical space to optimizing natural light and incorporating smart storage solutions, there are numerous ways to make the most of small spaces.

Remember to have a clear vision, declutter and organize, and utilize design elements like mirrors, light colors, and textures to create the illusion of more space.

By considering the scale of furniture, incorporating smart lighting, and creating zones, you can design a small space that meets your needs and reflects your personal style.

With a thoughtful and strategic approach, small spaces can be transformed into functional, stylish, and inviting environments.


1. How can I make a small living room feel more spacious?

To make a small living room feel more spacious, consider using light colors on the walls and furniture, incorporating mirrors to reflect light, utilizing vertical storage, and choosing furniture with exposed legs. Additionally, decluttering and organizing the space can create a more open and airy feel.

2. What are some storage solutions for small bedrooms?

For small bedrooms, consider utilizing under-bed storage, installing floating shelves or wall-mounted cabinets, using a wardrobe or closet organizer, and incorporating multifunctional furniture with built-in storage. These solutions can help maximize storage space without overwhelming the room.

3. How can I create a functional home office in a small space?

To create a functional home office in a small space, consider using wall-mounted desks, foldable furniture, and vertical storage. Optimize natural light, incorporate smart lighting, and use organizational tools such as filing systems or desk organizers to maximize productivity and efficiency.

4. What are some design tips for small bathrooms?

In small bathrooms, consider using light-colored tiles and paint, installing a mirrored cabinet or backsplash, utilizing vertical storage with shelves or wall-mounted cabinets, and opting for a glass shower enclosure. Also, choose compact fixtures and incorporate smart storage solutions to make the most of the available space.

5. How can I make a small kitchen more functional?

To make a small kitchen more functional, utilize vertical storage with wall-mounted shelves or hanging systems, opt for built-in appliances to save space, choose light-colored cabinets and countertops, and incorporate foldable or multifunctional furniture. Additionally, maximize natural light and use smart lighting solutions to enhance the functionality and ambiance of the space.


Designing small spaces requires a thoughtful and strategic approach, but with the right tips and strategies, it’s possible to create stylish and functional environments. By embracing multifunctional furniture, utilizing vertical space, optimizing natural light, and incorporating smart storage solutions, small spaces can be transformed into inviting and efficient living areas.

Remember to have a clear vision, declutter and organize, and utilize design elements like mirrors, light colors, and textures to create the illusion of more space. With careful consideration of furniture scale, lighting, and creating zones, small spaces can be designed to meet your needs and reflect your personal style.

By following these expert tips and incorporating them into your small space design, you can create a home that maximizes every square inch and provides a comfortable and stylish living environment.

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