This Is How to Choose the Best Furniture for Your Small Space, Designers Say

small space furniture

Cathie Hong

Just because you can get a couch through the doorway doesn't quite mean it is the right size for your space. 

But before you go through great lengths with that tape measurer, learning a few tricks about finding the best small space furniture for any room will save you a lot of stress. Seriously, there's no need for furniture shopping for your tiny home to become a big headache.

Meet the Expert

  • Shaolin Low of Studio Shaolin is based in Honolulu, Hawaii and focuses on sustainable, holistic design.
  • Marlaina Teich founded Marlaina Teich Designs in New York in 2004 and is an Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers.

To help get you started, we tapped two designers to share their advice on choosing small space furniture. Browse their tips below and bookmark their examples for inspiration.

Don't Overcrowd the Room

colorful small room

MARLAINA TEICH DESIGNS

When it comes to strategically working with the scale of furniture, designer Marlaina Teich says you always want to ensure that you're not overcrowding the space. Go for fewer bigger items, rather than filling it with various small items. Smaller does not always equal better here.

“Give pieces of furniture breathing room,” says Teich. “I know it can seem hard while trying to fit everything in, but you need to allow ample negative space in between.”

Make Sure Every Piece Serves a Purpose (or Two or Three)

small functional furniture

Design: Studio Shaolin, Photo: Hiep Nguyen

If it’s a tight squeeze, get the most out of your budget and your square footage by looking for multi-use furniture with some flexibility.

This airbnb near a hospital in downtown Honolulu was created to offer an affordable option for patients' visiting families. Since it’s a tight one bedroom meant to host four people, designer Shaolin Low says everything in its design had have multiple functions.

The sofa is a pull-out bed, and the ottomans are coffee tables/seats, as the tops also slide off. Because of its height, the counter table can be used for dining but also additional prep space, which is a great tip for a small kitchen. The bar stools can be tucked under the table, which also provides additional shelving.

Keep Furniture Simple and Functional to Leave Room for Decor

small studio

Studio Shaolin

Small spaces don't have to lack style and function, Teich says. They just take some creative thinking.  

In this affordable housing unit in the heart of Honolulu, Low wanted to keep the design light and open but also fit in an accent wall to add texture and color. To save room and streamline the small studio, the sofa has multiple storage options, the kitchen counter is also a dining table, and the bed hides storage drawers underneath it. Clutter is tucked away, so you don't have to Marie Kondo all of your worldly possessions.

Low says Mercana, Kalalou, Anthropologie, CB2 and Pottery Barn are all great places to buy small space furniture, but don’t be afraid to go custom for your most creative solutions. Low recommends Made Goods for custom-size case goods, and Etsy is full of artisans ready to collaborate on pieces for small spaces with you. 

Pay Attention to Proportions

small treehouse furniture

Studio Shaolin

This town home by Low is layered with three floors, but it doesn't host a lot of floor space.

“The idea was to keep it open, airy, and bring color to compliment all of the terracotta tile,” Low says. “The different levels played into each other, and we showcased the flow with pieces that were functional and sized properly for the space.”

Note how Low uses a small, low love seat instead of a bigger couch here. It feels more balanced and saves room for the minimalist side tables. As it also makes the living room feel more open, the additional seating in the corner and across from the coffee table doesn’t look out of place.

Also note how the accent chair is low and armless, and all of the tables offer ample negative space. It’s little tricks like these that can help keep your small living room from feeling cluttered.

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