11 Small-House Tricks

Increase Floor Space
Homeowner and designer Doug Davis shows how he makes the most of his charming 534-square-foot home. Steal the decorating and space tricks that make it live big for your own small spaces.

Small Home, Sweet Home

A few design, style, and organization tricks can make a small house live large. Customize these ideas to your layout and floor plan for a personalized, yet strategic setup that works for you.

Tricks for Small Living Rooms

Trick #1: Exposed-leg furniture airs out a space, but every room needs a little grounding. Here, the skirted sofa is up for the job. Without it, the leggy pieces would look as if they were ready to walk away.

Trick #2: A patterned area rug can make a small space look busy. Layer a smaller patterned rug over a larger solid rug to introduce just the right amount of pattern panache.

Trick #3: Choose materials that don't obstruct sight lines. Here, a wire mesh coffee table adds texture and function without visual weight. "It's the same effect as a Lucite piece in that it's almost invisible," Doug says.

Multiple Choices

Trick #4: Think versatility. In this living room, a dresser becomes a media console and, with drawers removed, a bookcase. "It's also like a mantel, giving me a place to create a focal point," Doug says.

Mirror, Mirror

Trick #5: Create the illusion of a spacious room by adding mirrors to your decor. The simple, yet versatile accessories add depth to the room and open it up with added light and dimension. "Antique glass is a nice way to open up a room without feeling like you're staring at yourself," Doug says.

Small Kitchen, Big Ideas

Trick #6: Slimmed down appliances, including a 24-inch-wide gas range and a 27-inch-wide refrigerator give the 8x11-foot kitchen an unexpected gourmet quality.

Trick #7: Use texture to convey style. Ribbed glass (rather than clear glass or solid doors) becomes build-in decoration in a hard-to-decorate space. Inside, everyday dishes stand out like display pieces.

Eat, Prep, Work

Trick #8: Double up function when needed. This home lacks a dining room and contends with a small kitchen. A restaurant work table in the corner of the kitchen is a dining table, countertop, and desk rolled into one. Backless stools keep things visually light.

Seek Storage

Trick #9: Add storage where you can find it. In the kitchen, a 4-inch filler piece of cabinetry by the range is a spice and glass rack.

Sweet Sleep

Trick #10: Built-in storage units provide plentiful storage space while avoiding floor-hogging dressers and armories. Doug went between the studs to gain to-the-ceiling storage in the bedroom.

Trick #11: Go with rounded furniture, like this bedside table, to allow more move-around space.

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