17 Solutions to Common Small-Space Problems
If you’re living in a small space, you don’t have the luxury, as others do, of buying exactly what you wish for your home. You have to shop smart and place equal emphasis on form and function. Thankfully, with some out-of-the-box thinking, you’ll find there are plenty of stylish solutions, multipurpose pieces included, that make living small and light simple. Below, we’ve identified nine common small-space problems along with easy design solutions.
The biggest problem you encounter in a small space is always your square footage. If you’re tight on space for a floor lamp or a side table/nightstand to hold a table lamp, just skip them altogether and opt for a sconce or overhead lighting instead. Renters tend to overlook these options, but you can actually purchase plug-in sconces and pendants that don't require hardwiring.
You don’t need to have a dining room to have a dining table. And you don’t need to live in an open-plan loft either. We recommend purchasing a drop-leaf table, which can double as a console table behind a sofa or in an entryway, then be brought out when you're entertaining—just make some room by moving the living room coffee table out of the way, and voila!
Another solution we love is to purchase a folding banquet table from Staples. Store it behind your sofa or under a bed until the time comes to entertain. It's not the prettiest piece, but once you throw on a tablecloth, your guests won’t know the difference.
Do you work from home and wish you had a dedicated office? Use a narrow desk as a nightstand and make the table work double-duty for you. This will be much better for your productivity than working from the sofa—or bed!
Another solution is to create a simple fold-down desk with a piece of plywood. Just attach the wood to a wall or bookcase with a pair of hinges on its bottom side and a pair of hooks and eyes to its top side. When you need a desktop surface, simply unhook it and the desk will fold down. When not in use, it will fold up slim, taking up just an inch or so of space.
We’ve already established that a bedside table lamp is unnecessary, so what else do you need to store by your pillow? A cell phone (or alarm clock), a book, and perhaps a glass of water. Not much. One of our favorite solutions for this little problem area is a DIY suspended table. The little floating surface takes up only a few inches beside your bed and opens floor space for whatever you need below. If you’re really low on space, install a narrow wall shelf just wide enough to hold a glass, or a book/magazine rack to hold your nightly reading.
Whether you live in a studio and want to create distinction between your living and sleeping areas, or you just want to carve out a separate nook in your living room, a folding screen offers privacys and divides up the space. What's more, the versatile piece of furniture can be used to add a bit of architecture and pattern in any room.
A more permanent (yet still removable) way to create privacy is to hang curtains via hospital tracking or industrial piping in the ceiling. Just like any other curtain rods, you can open and close your curtains as you wish, offering flexibility.
Many studios and small apartments open straight into the main living space, leaving little to no room to put an entry table or bench. One of our favorite ways to store coats, bags, keys, and other on-the-go essentials is with a vintage railway luggage rack. Unlike a basic coat rack, these have a shelf to store bags, briefcases, and the like, as well as hooks to hang your coats. Plus, they have a retro cool style we love.
If you prefer something slimmer, the Singular Wall Console is a great option. This narrow shelf holds keys, mail, and other odds and ends, plus you can also attach a hook to it to hold your coats and bags.
Unfortunately, you can’t create additional closet space out of thin air, but you can maximize the square footage you do have by purchasing a storage bed for stashing your folded clothes and accessories. Want even more storage? Opt for a storage headboard as well. We love the LAX Series by MASH Studios, which offers both—way more chic than the clunky under-bed storage containers of your dorm-room days.
Petite kitchens can be one of the biggest problem areas in a small home, especially if you cook regularly or are feeding a crowd. One issue is a lack of countertop space for kitchen prep work. So, one of our favorite little tools is this over-the-sink cutting board. When your counters are already covered with mixing bowls and all sorts of other gadgets crucial for your cooking, you can instantly give yourself more surface area by doing your chopping over the sink.