31 Small-Space Solutions to Help You Maximize Every Room

sitting area with white brick fireplace
Photo: Josh Grubbs

Do the small spaces in your home feel cramped and uncomfortable? Find simple strategies you can use to maximize square footage and make your home more inviting. These small-space solutions utilize storage and design elements to make the most of every inch.

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Design in Small-Space Scale

living room pink couch cream armchairs
Laurey Glenn

Scale—the visual size of objects in relation to one another—is key to a successful small-space design. Avoid oversize furniture, which can eat up floor space in a small room. Include a mix of small to medium-scale furniture pieces. And remember that scale is relative, so what looks like a too-small sofa on the showroom floor could be just the right size for your small living room. Always take room measurements before buying furniture.

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Create Small-Space Zones

small living room gallery wall
Dylan Chandler

In a small home, some rooms perform multiple functions, such as dining and relaxing in a great room. Use area rugs to delineate various zones within a larger space. The lines of the rug provide a visual cue as to where one function stops and another begins.

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Utilize a Kitchen Corner

kitchen banquette seating built-in shelves
Dave Greer

Nooks and crannies add charm to small homes, but what do you do with them? In the kitchen, consider utilizing a corner for seating with a built-in banquette. Cushioned seats re-create the feel of a restuarant booth, while hidden drawers below stash cookware, table linens, and other necessities.

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Use Windows to Enlarge a Small Room

cozy bedroom with teal bed and hanging light
David Tsay

Windows help visually enlarge a small room because your eye moves beyond the wall to the outdoor view and embraces it as part of your living space. Take advantage of this liberating effect by leaving windows bare, or dress windows with draperies that match the color of the walls to eliminate boundaries and open the space. For privacy, install simple shades or blinds that can be pulled out of the way during the day.

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Use Fewer Colors in a Small Room

living room soft bed coffee table wine rack
Adam Albright

In small-space design, using too many colors can feel chaotic. Select a few favorite shades and stick with them. In this living room, a neutral background is accented with sky blue and rusty orange. The colors add personality without overtaking the space, and the muted tones are far more subtle than fully pigmented hues, which also softens their impact.

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Squeeze In Small-Space Seating

kitchen banquette with bold artwork in reds
Annie Schlechter

When your kitchen layout is tight, a quaint eating area is more feasible than a large built-in island. For a small corner banquette, choose a round pedestal table, instead of one with sharp corners, to ease sliding in and out. When it's not being used for dining, the table and chairs can be pushed into the bench's L shape to allow for more open space in the room.

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Embrace Curves in Small Spaces

curved white couch in sitting area
Graham Atkins-Hughes

Use round or curved elements in a small, square room to create a smoother flow. Soft edges, instead of rigid corners, can take the room from cramped to cozy. In this living space, a curvy sofa and round table lend a flowing, organic feel.

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Designate Zones Within a Small Room

Office area with wooden shelf divider
Paul Costello

Introduce physical barriers to designate spaces in a small home. Folding screens, bookshelves, and curtains can all act as room dividers to create privacy or define zones. Use this small-space idea to carve out a home office within another room or seperate the bedroom in a studio apartment.

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Downplay Contrast in a Small Space

sitting area with white brick fireplace
Josh Grubbs

Architectural focal points can make a small space feel choppy by causing the eye to stop and focus in on that area. By painting the brick fireplace white in this compact sitting area, the fireplace no longer distracts from the room and nearly disappears between the neighboring doors. The cohesive color of the wall and fireplace helps the small room feel open and spacious.

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Put Walls to Work

small bath private toilet modern ikea vanity black white floor tile
Edmund Barr

Bathrooms are often the smallest room in the house. To boost storage in a tight space, think vertically. Hang a set of shelves on a blank stretch of wall, such as above the toilet or next to the vanity, and use them to store extra towels, toiletries, and decorative items.

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Choose Multipupose Furniture

neutral Scandinavian style living rom gray curtains leather ottoman
Edmund Barr

Swap out basic furniture for pieces that can serve multiple purposes, such as an ottoman in place of a coffee table. Add a tray on top to corral books and accessories or offer a sturdy surface to place a beverage. When needed, the ottoman can provide comfy seating for extra guests.

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Add Mirrors to Small Spaces

entry red door
Brian Mc Weeney

Hang a large mirror with a decorative frame (or prop it against a wall) to create the illusion of depth in a small room. Even small mirrors expand the sense of space by reflecting views and light. An oversize mirror like this one has a particularly dramatic effect because it reflects a large chunk of the room.

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Let Small Rooms Breathe

modern neutral tones living room
Laurey Glenn

Accessories provide personalization, but filling a small room to the brim will steal space visually. A handful of well-chosen and well-placed accessories is all it takes to give a small living room a layer of sophistication. To avoid a cluttered look, take advantage of natural display spots, such as the coffee table, end tables, and the fireplace, accenting them with a handful of thoughtful items. If you spread accessories throughout the room, keep the walls simple and quiet to focus attention on the objects. Likewise, if you want the eye to focus on the shapes and textures of accessories, keep their colors neutral or monochromatic.

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Limit Pattern in a Small Room

bedroom with blue and white bedding
David Greer

When decorating a small room, let texture and color guide your fabric choices. Introducing too many patterns in tight quarters will create confusion. In this bedroom, a little bit of pattern on the bedding goes a long way. The patterns are subtle and small in scale, delivering a sense of texture within the monochromatic blue palette.

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Float Furniture in a Small Room

gray living room with warm wood floors and modern chandelier
Suggested paint color: Silver Mine PPU26-18, Behr. Peter Molick

Create a sense of movement and make the room feel larger by floating big furnishings away from walls. Allowing elbow room between the wall and seating pieces gives the impression of depth and space. In this open floor plan, the furniture "floats" in front of the fireplace, creating a distinct living area within the larger space.

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Keep a Small Room Flexible

Dining area with blue couch and large artwork
Annie Schlecther

Keep a small room from feeling cramped when you entertain by outfitting it with smaller, portable pieces of furniture that can be rearranged. Here, a lightweight table, an upholstered settee, and two bistro chairs form a cozy dining area. All of these pieces could easily be pushed out of the way or moved to another room to accommodate different needs.

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Keep the Color Scheme Simple

modern white bathroom
Dane Tashima

It's a well-known decorating adage: Light colors open up a room, while dark colors keep a space cozy. To give your room the illusion of spaciousness, bathe it in white. White surfaces bounce light around the room, keeping a small space feeling bright and open. In this narrow bathroom, white subway tile walls and a marble countertop reflect light, giving the feeling of spaciousness, while a black vanity grounds the room.

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Lean Into Coziness

Scandinavian-styled living room
David Land

Small rooms feel cozy and intimate by nature. Embrace that feeling by decorating with plenty of texture and warmth. Choose furniture and textiles that feel plush and inviting, and layer in pillows and throws for extra comfort.

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Double Up

banquette nook with blue and yellow pillows
Laurie Black

Tap into wasted space for storage in a small space. Drawers built in beneath this window seat can corral extra linens, dishes, entertaining supplies, and more. If built-ins are out of your budget, consider adding skirts to furniture so you can slide inexpensive storage bins underneath and out of sight.

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Bring Shelves into Your Kitchen

kitchen rack near fridge subway tile
James R. Salomon

If you find yourself running out of cabinet space, bring in furniture that helps make up the difference. Add a bookshelf to your kitchen or pantry for your most-used items. The display can double as decor, and you won't need to dig through your cabinets to find your favorite coffee dishware or serving pieces.

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Keep a Clear View in a Small Room

breakfast nook with glass round table
Annie Schlechter

Anything that stops the eye in its movement around the room can register as a boundary or border that limits space. Eliminate the obstacles, and you enhance the sense of limitlessness. For example, the glass top on this dining table virtually disappears, opening the eating area so it feels bigger. The transparent surface also allows the table's decorative base to shine without weighing down a room. Rattan chairs further contribute to the airy feel and visual openness.

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Design Small Rooms to Multitask

living room with starburst mirror over fireplace
Adam Albright Photography

If your house is too small to meet all your needs, design spaces for double duty. For example, a daybed anchors this living room and scores space for guests to sleep. For a more finished look, cap off the ends with a pair of bolster pillows to imitate the rolled arms of a sofa. Keep extra pillows and blankets nearby to ease the transition from seating area to sleeping quarters.

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Go Wide

bright shabby chic farmhouse bedroom shiplap
Anthony Masterson

A shiplap treatment can help visually expand a small room by wrapping the walls with wide, horizontal stripes. In this bedroom, an accent wall of horizontally aligned boards achieves this effect without overpowering the room. A soft white paint color ensures the breaks between boards are noticeable but don't visually break up the space.

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Create Counter Space

small vintage-inspired kitchen range
David Tsay

If your kitchen lacks counter space, look to temporary solutions. This freestanding unit adds counter space next to the stove and helps make up for a lack of storage. Look for bar carts on wheels for mobile use or tables that fold flat for extra space-saving capabilities.

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Carve Out an Office Space

glam secretary desk acrylic chair
John Bessler

No room for an office? You don't have to sit at the dinner table to get your work done. A sleek secretary-style desk can fit perfectly against a small wall in a hallway, foyer, or living area. Lay the lid down to work, then flip the lid up to hide all of your office items when not in use.

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Use Fold-Down Furniture

turquoise fold-down modern secretary desk white stools
Jay Wilde

Consider innovative furniture solutions that can fold into the wall when not in use. A modern take on the classic Murphy table works perfectly in a small kitchen corner. The quick setup and tear-down makes it easy to transition the room between dining and living space.

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Make a Small Laundry Room Do More

mudroom laundry storage blue lockers
Anthony Masterson

Serving as a mudroom, laundry room, and storage area, this small space does it all. Sleek pale-blue lockers house bulky jackets while a rolling cart holds laundry supplies. Shoes stay tucked away on a wooden shelf below the window, and a stacked washer and dryer save space.

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Choose Small-Scale Furnishings

chic contemporary living room teal chairs
David Patterson

Small spaces are quickly overwhelmed by large or overstuffed furnishings. Instead, choose neatly upholstered pieces with compact frames and slimmed-down silhouettes. Leggy pieces without skirted bottoms allow you to see through them to the walls and floors for an expansive effect.

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Make Space in a Small Hallway

suitcase storage entryway acrylic table
Michael Partenio

The entry creates a welcoming focal point for guests, but small homes might lack a designated entryway. When you're squeezed for space, use furniture to distinguish the entrance but keep it visually light. A narrow console table, for example, provides a surface for some flowers and a place to deposit mail, keys, and a handbag when walking in the door. It also anchors the mirror, creating a well-balanced display that doesn't eat up too much space.

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Deliver Big Impact in a Small Space

graphic artwork midcentury living room cow hide rug
Tria Giovan

One oversize piece of art can create a strong focal point that actually opens a small space. To the contrary, multiple pieces scattered around the room make it feel cluttered and small. Here, a graphic painting perched on a console table delivers a dramatic performance. The rest of the room remains neutral and subdued, giving the artwork a chance to shine.

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Select Right-Size Furniture

small bathroom modern sink tree wallpaper
Emily Followill

Squeeze more function into small spaces with strategically selected pieces of furniture. A tall table designed for an entry hall or foyer supplies a slice of sophisticated storage in this cozy bath. The table's height and long legs play up the room's vertical dimension. The open space beneath both it and the console vanity contribute to the room's airiness.

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