Living in Small Spaces

Thanks to informed furniture purchases, efficient space planning, and a little decorating wizardry, you can fit a lot of living into little rooms. Use these tips to make living in small spaces more comfortable and enjoying.

Prepare to Multitask

Furniture that performs more than one function will expand the number of uses for a space. A daybed shifts from a sofa to a sleeping spot, for example. A pair of console tables pushed together creates a small dining table. A rolling kitchen cart can be used as a bar for entertaining, a dining buffet, or to corral the printer for your laptop.

Waste No Space

By utilizing plain wall surfaces and idle crannies, you'll eek out bonus storage and activity space. In the bathroom, attach small hooks to the wall to hang necklaces and bracelets. By the entry, install purse hooks to fashion a mini mudroom. Any corner can host benches and a table to create dining or office space. And don't overlook windows, which can be used as effectively as walls for furniture placement: A window draped with curtains can be a pretty backdrop for the bed.

Usher in the Light

Make a room feel larger by amplifying the amount of daylight it gets. If possible, add skylights. Play up the windows, which not only let in light but frame up a view to the outside world. (When your eye can focus on something far away, the room feels larger.) In the kitchen, don't let upper cupboards crowd windows, using wall shelves instead if necessary, and place everything possible -- even the microwave -- under the counter level so work surfaces are bright.

Hug the Walls

Reserve floor space for the flow of people. By keeping furniture pushed against the walls, you create open, airy space in the middle, which makes a room feel larger. In a kitchen, choose cabinet-depth appliances and skip the center island. Built-in benches let you tuck the dining table out of the way. In a child's room, elevate the mattress with a loft bed. Even the tiniest bathroom will seem larger with a wall-mounted or pedestal sink.

Make a Bold Statement

You can pack a great deal of fun into mere inches. Bright colors and bold patterns have more impact in compact rooms, so you don't have to invest in a lot of signature pieces. Use an unexpected color for a light fixture, an area rug, or an accent chair. Choose fabric curtains or throw pillows in graphic patterns; they'll contribute to a lively atmosphere even in a neutral-scheme space.

Small-Space Decorating Inspiration

See how this 600 square-foot apartment can have three distinct looks-€”neutral oasis, color connection, and saturation point-€”with the simple swap of a few accents.


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