25 Stylish Solutions for Decorating Awkward Spaces

entry white cabinet
Photo: Helen Norman 

Awkward spaces call for creative design solutions. Embrace that empty corner, the awkward spot behind the couch, an oddly shaped nook, or shallow mantel with these decorating tips for difficult areas.

01 of 25

Shallow Spare Closet

small office area with rolling doors
Kritsada Panichgul

Small, shallow closets might be limited in their storage capabilities, but these awkward spaces can serve other needs, too. Create a hidden home office by mounting a sturdy piece of wood at table height to serve as a desktop surface, then hang shelves above for storage. Sconces brighten the area with task lighting. To save space, swap traditional swinging or bifold doors with sliding barn-style doors that remain flush with the wall.

02 of 25

Bay Window Area

bay window desk area with dark curtains and white roman shades
David A. Land

Bay windows add beautiful natural light to a room, but what do you do with that awkward pop-out? The angled area just inside bay windows is a prime location for placing a small piece of furniture, such as a desk. This keeps the rest of the room's floor space clear while creating a home office area with a pretty view.

03 of 25

Under a Staircase

white stairway
Anthony Masterson

The space beneath a staircase doesn't have to look dark and empty. Make the area feel inviting with a mod sign and matching bench. Just be sure to keep it clutter-free so the stairwell remains clear.

04 of 25

Upper Kitchen Shelves

kitchen with gold light fixtures
John Bessler 

If your kitchen counters are getting crowded, look to the space above or between cabinetry. High shelves can provide out-of-the-way storage for extra items. Outfit upper kitchen wall space with shelves that let you show off your prettiest dishware while keeping counters clutter-free.

05 of 25

Above a Radiator

entry white cabinet
Helen Norman 

A radiator doesn't have to be a creaky eyesore you try to ignore. Disguise an unsightly radiator with vented woodwork, then spruce it up with artwork, vases, and practical hooks. A pretty glass pendant further showcases this often-overlooked space.

06 of 25

Above a Laundry Machine

small laundry room
Werner Straube

Hang open shelves above your washer and dryer units to add stylish storage to your laundry room. Use wire and wicker bins to organize cleaning supplies on shelves, and display motivational wall art to make laundry a little less tedious. Keep the countertop mostly clear to allow room for folding clothes or treating stains.

07 of 25

Behind a Door

entry red door
Brian Mc Weeney

When your front door isn't open, the space behind it can look bare and awkward. Deck the wall behind a door with a short console table and a tall mirror to stylishly fill up the empty space. The area will also serve as a spot to do a final touch-up on your way out or drop your keys and purse when you walk in the door.

08 of 25

A Small Corner

hanging plants
Kim Cornelison 

Decorating an awkward corner doesn't have to be difficult. Simply fill the space with a hanging display. Install sets of hooks on both adjoining walls and string up an assortment of hanging planters, lanterns, or baskets. By hanging the elements from hooks instead of mounting them directly on the wall, you can easily remove the planters for watering or switch up the display as you please.

09 of 25

In a Nook

small home office
Werner Straube

Stuck on how to style that awkward space between two walls? A tight nook is the perfect place to set up an office. Tuck a desk into the space, then add floral patterned wallpaper and vintage-style hanging storage for a personal touch.

10 of 25

Maximize a Small Nook

A small nook doesn't have to equal wasted space. If you aren't sure what to do with the area, try these smart ideas. A few decorating tricks can help that tight spot live large.

11 of 25

Beneath Open Sinks

bathroom with two sinks
Jay Wilde

No bathroom cabinets? No problem. Fill basic woven baskets with all the essential toiletries for a tidy way to save space. Toilet paper and towels remain easily accessible and stylishly displayed.

12 of 25

A Cramped Mudroom

pantry shelves
John Bessler

Make a small mudroom work harder with smart storage ideas. Baskets tucked into open cubbies help streamline storage with a clean look. Built into the corner to make the most of the slim space, shelves filled with baking essentials pull double-duty as a pantry. Fuzzy stools and a floral chandelier introduce personality to the space.

13 of 25

Shallow Mantel

bedroom with fireplace
Paul Dyer

A shallow mantel can seem useless when half your decor doesn't fit. For a mantel decorating idea that takes up little space, look to ultra-thin frames. Fill the frames with your favorite photographs, then prop them up on the mantel to make your fireplace appear more prominent.

14 of 25

Small Walls

entry chalk board wall
Werner Straube

Make a miniscule wall noteworthy with a chalkboard and motivational artwork. Crates and baskets keep shoes organized beneath a small console table. Apply chalkboard paint straight to the wall to create a large-scale message board, then hang a shelf directly below to hold pieces of chalk at-the-ready.

15 of 25

Around Wiring

kitchen with white cabinets
Helen Norman

When it comes to pesky exposed electrical work, work with it instead of around it. A thin wire picture board, for example, can fit snugly behind electrical wiring. Add calendars, pictures, and recipes to decorate an awkward space with a personal touch.

16 of 25

Hallway Corner

blue and white wallpaper
Kim Cornelison

For homes that lack a formal entryway, creating a dedicated dropzone inside the door can be challenging. If your front door opens into a hallway, utilize one corner to carve out a spot for umbrellas, keys, and other grab-and-go essentials. Opt for a small dresser instead of a table so you can use the drawers for extra storage. Cover the area with bold wallpaper to add impact to the small hallway.

17 of 25

Narrow Hallway

hallway with sliding door
Jeff Herr

Play up a skinny hallway with chalkboard art that runs from end to end. Jot down sweet messages or reminders you'll see on your way from one room to the next. A rustic barn door on a track connects to additional areas without opening out into the hallway and taking up additional space.

18 of 25

Nonexistent Entryway

entry with bench
John Bessler

If your home isn't outfitted with the perfect entryway (or any entryway at all), build it yourself. Define the space with a rug, then add hooks and a bench to give purpose to a nearby wall. Add dimension with a beaded-board or shiplap wall treatment to further distinguish your one-wall mudroom.

19 of 25

Small Landing

white and red stairway
Anthony Masterson

Your landing might be small, but its level of style can be far from it. Although a table or dresser would be too large, a sculptural chair is just the right fit. Here, a glitzy gold paint job and an animal-print pillow add flair to the space, while a matching wall color and rug tie it all together.

20 of 25

Under Tall Windows

window bench with pug
Robert Brinson

Tall windows are big and beautiful, but decorating around them can be tricky. Low benches keep the spotlight on large windows and offer a prime spot for lounging. Position them slightly away from the wall so you can tuck drapes behind the seats.

21 of 25

Small Kitchen Wall

kitchen sink
Werner Straube

In a kitchen otherwise covered in cabinetry, a small expanse of blank wall can look a bit awkward and out of place. Take advantage of the space with a stack of floating open shelves. Use them to stash spare cookbooks, dishware, or collectibles.

22 of 25

Long Entryway

entry bench and hooks
Werner Straube

Evenly spaced hooks and an ultra-comfy bench cushion make this once-crammed entryway open and inviting. Bins beneath the built-in bench provide hidden storage, while a wall of wainscoting gives the area upscale style. A line of cabinetry above provides handy storage behind closed doors.

23 of 25

Behind a Sofa

sofa table
John Bessler 

Split a large living room in half by placing a tall table behind a sofa. Use baskets to store odds and ends beneath the console. Place a stylish table lamp on top to create an extra barrier and provide additional light.

24 of 25

Beside Built-Ins

living room corner
Brie Williams 

Built-ins can be tricky to design around. This awkward living room layout idea includes placing a reading chair in front of built-in shelves offering cozy and convenient seating. Mount artwork above the furniture to define the space.

25 of 25

Diagonal Wall

kitchen with green cabinets
Tria Giovan

In an open kitchen area, a diagonal wall is often easily viewable from the adjacent spaces. Turn this blank space into a focal point with a large piece of framed art. A culinary print gives this kitchen a light, whimsical feel.

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