8 Tips for Designing Small Spaces

It’s easy to envy your married, double-income friends and their great big house, but with simple tweaks you can have everything they have, on a scale made just for you. As a former Interior Designer I’ve had to come up with all sorts of creative solutions in order to give my clients what they want and need in the space that they have.

I enjoyed working with my single clients the most (of course!), but their projects did present special challenges. Usually it was how to get all the function they needed in their homes into smaller spaces than those of my couple-clients. Here are some strategies I used with these clients that you can grab for yourself.  

  1. Know what functions need to take place in your home.

They might consist of the following:  sleeping, bathing, cooking, watching TV, eating, working, working out, play space (for the kids), arts & crafts, hobbies, entertaining, storage.  You may not need all of these or you may have others to add to this list. However you use your home, you’ll want to find space for each activity that you do on a regular basis, so be thorough with your list.

2. Decide which rooms can do double duty.

If you have more functions than you have rooms, figure out if some of your rooms can be used for more than one function. Can you put a small desk in the corner of your bedroom, for example, and use it as an office, as well? A desk could go in the living room, too, and could even double as a console table behind the sofa. If you’ve decided you absolutely must have a dining table even though it only gets used a few times a year, can that table double as a desk or a hobby table in lieu of a separate office or craft space? Yes, you need a place to sleep, but do you also need a large home office? What if you converted your bedroom to an office and installed a murphy bed? A murphy bed could go in the living room, as well.  Your dining room could be converted to an office, fitness room, play room or storage space. There are lots of ways to make your rooms do double duty when they need to.

3. Get rid of clutter.

A surefire way to make your rooms look and feel less spacious is to stuff them full of… stuff! Time to get out the Goodwill box and start filling it up. I used to do home staging, where I brought in furniture and accessories to vacant homes that were on the market for sale. One of the biggest rules of staging is, less is more. Instead of cramming those vacant rooms full of huge furniture and loads of accessories, they were “lightly furnished and accessorized.” In order to make the homes feel open and airy, and the rooms feel larger, the furniture pieces were smaller than the rooms could actually accommodate and the accessories were scattered here and there. If you’re living in a small space, the same rule applies, so get rid of all the extra clutter and make your rooms feel larger!

4. Stick to a neutral color palette throughout the space.

One of the best ways to make a space feel small and boxy is to use lots of different, bold colors in each room. Sticking to a light, neutral color palette throughout your home is going to make it feel larger as the rooms flow together. Too boring? Bring in your bold colors with artwork, rugs and accessories.

5. Choose your furniture well.

People tend to go to the furniture showroom, see a fabulous room grouping and think that it’s going to look that way in their home, too. Keep in mind that furniture showrooms have thousands of square feet and the room groupings in them look a lot smaller than they’re going to look in your home. Measure, measure, measure! We tend to buy furniture pieces that are way too big for the rooms we have or we buy too many pieces. Measure your rooms before you go to the furniture store and be realistic about what you need and what will fit, especially if you’re using your rooms for more than one function. Nothing makes a room look smaller than stuffing it full of too many huge pieces of furniture.

6. Look for storage furniture.

A bed with drawers underneath could eliminate the need for a dresser. Nightstands with drawers don’t take up any more space than ones without and do offer some storage space. Same with coffee and end tables. Even a platform bed with no drawers allows for things to be slid underneath. And a wall unit may seem like it’s taking up a lot of space, but it’s only wall space and it can offer a lot of storage.

7. Find space-saving products.

There is a wealth of space-saving ideas and products on the market. Some things get mounted to the ceiling and only pulled down when needed. Some things stash away under a staircase. Some are simply organizational in nature and let you operate with a less-is-more mentality. Check out space-saving options and employ the ones that will work for you.

8. Outsource.

If all else fails and you still have more stuff than you have space to accommodate it, consider offsite storage. You’ll pay a monthly fee, of course, but it could be worth your sanity. I have a lot of Christmas decorations and they take up a lot of space. I also have a basement to store them in, but if I didn’t, that’s something I could see putting in offsite storage. They could be picked up and dropped back off once a year.

Applying these 8 tips to YOUR small spaces will surely have you getting the most of out of the space you do have and falling in love with your own home again!

Leslie Kaz, coach for single women

I help single women get from where they are to where they want to be by overcoming their sadness and starting to live their best lives through mindset and lifestyle changes. Contact me to learn how it’s possible to live a single, blissful life.

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