We often lament over how small spaces lack storage, how they are difficult to decorate and lack practicality. But let’s think about their perks for a minute: Small spaces are cozy, they encourage you to live a clutter-free life, and with just a few clever décor tricks, they can be just as functional (maybe even more) as large mansions. Plus, there’s the added eco-friendly bonus that petite quarters require less energy to heat up and cool down thanks to their minimal square footage, allowing you to leave a smaller carbon footprint.
Whether you live in a studio or have a small bedroom, the key to living large is in the styling. From maximizing seating for a dinner party to making a space appear larger, read on for our favorite decorator-approved small-space tricks.
Built-in kitchen banquettes are one of our favorite designer tricks. Installing a communal seat allows you to maximize seating—you may not have enough space for six chairs around your kitchen table, but you can easily seat four on a banquette and add two dining chairs.
If you’re not ready to shell out for custom handiwork, purchasing a dining banquette can be a great alternative to chairs.
Glass and lucite furniture are a small-space dweller’s best friend. These see-through materials blend into their surroundings, visually decluttering your space so it doesn’t seem as full as it actually is. Instead of a bulky wooden dining table, consider one with a glass top. Instead of a chunky marble coffee table, go for an acrylic waterfall table.
When decorating your space, clear your mind of any notions you have of what should be there. Not every bedroom needs a nightstand flanking each side of the bed, and not every living room needs a floor lamp and a side table beside it.
Designers who know this are all about putting furniture flush to the walls. Dare to throw a big, cozy sectional in a small sitting area, and let it take over the width of the room. You can float small side tables in front of it to hold your drinks, remote controls, and other necessities and use sconces instead of table or floor lamps. The same goes for a bedroom: If yours is tiny, choose that big bed you want and use a wall shelf instead of a nightstand and an overhead light instead of a table lamp.
Have short ceilings? Draw your guests’ eyes upward by placing eye-catching items up high or running an accent or a furniture piece from the floor toward the ceiling. You’ll effectively create the illusion of height. We love the idea of setting vases or artwork on top of a bookcase or mantel for an extra lift.
Another way to effectively “fight” your short ceilings is to bring in low-slung furniture. When you sit down, you’ll be that much farther away from the ceiling, so you won’t feel as cramped. If you keep the styling simple, you’ll also allow more white space on your walls, creating the illusion of more actual space.
Mirrors are one of the most transformative and foolproof additions to any small room, as they visually double your space. A mirror of any shape or size will help, but the longer and the wider it is, the better.
It’s incredible what a little natural light can do to a space that feels dark and cramped. If you have a small space on your hands, pull back the curtains, roll up the blinds, and watch your space suddenly look light, bright, and expansive.
Storage is the biggest struggle for small-space dwellers. The catch-22 is that while you may be thrilled to find a bookcase or a built-in unit that houses all of your things, if the piece exposes your odds and ends, it can make your space feel cluttered. The trick is to use hidden storage: Consider putting drawers in the aforementioned banquette seating or using sliding doors so that your record collection doesn’t create visual clutter.
Going white in a small space is a strategic choice, as the neutral tone makes everything look and feel bigger. White walls might just do the trick, but also creating a cohesive white color scheme (such as white dinnerware against white kitchen tiles) can work wonders for a small space.
Do you have any small-space tricks of the trade to share?
This story was originally published on August 20, 2016, and has been updated by Sacha Strebe.