Stretch Out a Small Space

You’ve finally found the space of your dreams, only it’s not as spacious as it ought to be and now you don’t know how you’re going to fit all your goodies into the digs. In fact, the more you look at your space, the more you wonder how you even imagined you could fit everything into it, including yourself. Have no fear. There are tried and true design tips that work, regardless of the size of your room or apartment.

Pare down to just the basics

Deciding what you can’t live without in your room and then working around that is your first step to pepping up a little space. It’s especially important in small rooms to stick to the basics. In a bedroom, that would include the bed and probably a dresser. In an office, that would be the desk and a bookshelf which could double as a printer and photocopier stand. You might need to find different furniture or sell your old furniture to make it work.

Lighten it all up

The simplest thing to do is to brighten up your room. Keeping your curtains open and light streaming in creates the illusion of more space. Adding lamps helps too. A few here and there create focal spotlights at night. Another great trick is to add brighter bulbs to the room. General Electric, for instance, offers a great line of bulbs called Reveal that filter out the yellow rays and filter in clean, bright light, which is great for winter months in darker places.

Arrange furniture on a diagonal

You can create a visual distraction by arranging furniture on a diagonal. It breaks up the monotony of furniture lining the walls and creates a cool storage space right behind the furniture. I once stuff all of my unpacked boxes, sporting stuff I didn’t need, behind a dresser I put on a diagonal in my studio apartment. You couldn’t even see them unless you looked behind the dresser.

Pick a focal point

This is one of my favorite aspects of interior decorating: finding the perfect centerpiece for a room. What’s the most eye-catching, in a good way, piece in your living room? Making that the focal point will liven up your space. If you have a stellar view of the mountains from your dining room, point the table in that direction. Similarly, if you have an amazing painting in your bedroom, put the bed right across from it. It gives you something to look at and makes the room pop.

Vary the textures in a space

All wood floors with all wood furniture makes for a dull room. But tossing a few Oriental or Mexican rugs on the floor can jazz it up. In a bedroom, you can add some solid colored pillows on top of a patterned comforter to break things up. Or silk pillows on top of a cotton bedspread. If you have a lot of pottery on the bookshelves as decoration, maybe you want to add some interesting photos in handmade frames in between pieces. The idea is to break up the monotony and add variety to the space. There are lots of options. Play around with them until you find the ones you like the best.

These simple tricks can make your space feel like more and add some flair to your room. What are some ways you've managed to make the most of a small space?

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Guest's picture

Thanks for these tips. I recently moved into a new place and I have been trying to decide how to decorate. Luckily I get to start from scratch as I decided to rid of all my furniture when I moved across country. Any tips for finding good deals on furniture?

Guest's picture

These are great suggestions. I have a small place myself, and I did many of the things you mention. I have a lot of white (with a peachy-red accent wall), in varying textures and always keep my curtains open on my window. I live in a high-rise condo so the windows are quite large and that helps a lot. I also, like you mention, clear the clutter constantly!

Sasha A. Rae's picture

@KateMTP You're welcome. And there are tons of great places to find furniture ... starting from scratch can be fun. In fact, I just wrote a post about that:

@Rebecca at Alice I bet your space looks great!

Guest's picture

I keep seeing this advice all over the place, but for some people it's rather useless. If your place is small enough (like mine) you really, really need that space the diagonally placed couch juts into for things like, well, existing. Walking from one corner of the room to the other.

I've hauled furniture around my tiny, tiny living room enough times to know (now) that diagonal isn't always the space-saver it's touted to be.

Guest's picture
Stacey Marcos

My place is just bigger then Papa Smurf's bathroom. I have found mounting as much as possible on the walls is the best way to go. I'm talking shelves, niches, and hooks. Nothing crazy, just the small stuff that would otherwise be on the floor or on a table. an ottoman that can serve as seating and a table is great. Wall sconces that light of the ceiling works great for making the space seem "taller". Get rid of everything you don't use 5 out of 7 days a week.

Guest's picture

You would better consider a relocation, the advice are indeed very very good, in a small room, all that is very important but if you got some extra cash save them to move :)