31 Solutions for Small Spaces to Maximize Efficiency and Style

sitting area with white brick fireplace
Photo: Josh Grubbs

Do the littlest spaces in your home feel cozy and inviting—or cramped and uncomfortable? If it's the latter, you don't necessarily need to build an addition. You just need to figure out how to maximize the square footage you have. Try these small-home solutions to transform your compact rooms into functional, welcoming spaces.

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Design in Small-Space Scale

living room pink couch cream armchairs
Laurey Glenn

Finding the appropriate 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, and include a mix of small to medium-scale pieces. 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 petite living room. Always measure before buying furniture to avoid surprises.

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Create Zones

small living room gallery wall
Dylan Chandler

In a small home, some rooms perform multiple functions—for example, you might dine and relax in the same great room. Use area rugs to delineate various zones within the larger space. The edges of each rug provide a visual cue about where one area 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 using a neglected corner for seating with a built-in banquette. Cushioned seats mimic a restuarant booth, while hidden drawers below stash cookware, table linens, and other necessities.

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Make the Most of Windows

cozy bedroom with teal bed and hanging light
David Tsay

Windows visually enlarge a small room—your eye moves beyond the wall to the outdoor view, incorporating it as part of your living space. Take advantage of this expansive effect by leaving windows bare, or dress them with draperies that match the color of the walls to create a seamless look. For privacy, install simple shades or blinds that can be rolled up during the day.

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Limit Your Color Palette

living room soft bed coffee table wine rack
Adam Albright

In small-space design, using too many colors can feel chaotic. So select a few favorite shades and stick with them. In this living room, sky blue and rusty orange accent a neutral background. The colors add personality without overtaking the space, and the muted tones are subtler than fully pigmented hues, softening their impact.

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Pick Petite Seating

kitchen banquette with bold artwork in reds
Annie Schlechter

If 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 they're not being used for dining, the table and chairs can be pushed into the bench's corner to leave more open space in the room.

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Embrace Curves

curved white couch in sitting area
Graham Atkins-Hughes

Use round or curved elements in a small room to create a smoother flow. Rigid corners can chop up a tiny space, whereas soft edges will take the room from cramped to cozy. In this living space, a curvy sofa and round table lend a flowing, organic feel and create a comfortable conversation space.

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Add Small-Space Barriers

Office area with wooden shelf divider
Paul Costello

If two people share a small office, introduce physical barriers to separate workspaces. Folding screens, bookshelves, and curtains can all act as room dividers to create privacy or define zones. If you don't have a designated office, use this small-space idea to carve out a workspace within another room or seperate the bedroom in a studio apartment.

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Minimize Contrast

sitting area with white brick fireplace
Josh Grubbs

Architectural focal points can disrupt the flow of a small space, enticing the eye to stop on that area, rather than taking in the whole room. Painted white like the walls, this fireplace blends in and avoids being a visual distraction. The cohesive look makes 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 enhance storage in a tight space, think vertically. Hang a set of shelves on a blank stretch of wall—for example, 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 functions, such as an ottoman in place of a coffee table. Place 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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Play with Light

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 compact 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 since it reflects a large portion of the room.

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Let Small Rooms Breathe

modern neutral tones living room
Laurey Glenn

Accessories personalize your space. But filling a small room to the brim will actually detract from it. A handful of well-chosen, well-placed accessories is all you need to bring sophistication to a living room with limited square footage.

To avoid a cluttered look, stick to natural display spots, such as the coffee table, end tables, or the fireplace, and keep the colors neutral or monochromatic if you want the shape and textures of the objects to be the focus. If you prefer to spread accessories throughout the room, leave your walls mostly unadorned and pick an understated paint color.

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Limit Patterns

bedroom with blue and white bedding
David Greer

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

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Float Furniture

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

If you move large furnishings away from the walls, you'll create a sense of movement—and make the room feel larger. Why? Allowing elbow room between the wall and seating 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

When purchasing furniture for a tiny space, ask yourself: Can I easily move this around? Smaller, portable pieces that can be rearranged give you layout flexibility, which is especially helpful when entertaining. Here, a lightweight table, an upholstered settee, and two bistro chairs form a cozy dining area. All of these pieces can easily be pushed out of the way or moved to another room to accommodate different needs.

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Wash the Room in White

modern white bathroom
Dane Tashima

It's a well-known decorating adage: Light colors open up a room, while dark colors keep things cozy. To give your room the illusion of spaciousness, bathe it in white. White surfaces bounce light around the room, making a small space feel bright and open. In this narrow bathroom, white subway tile walls and a marble countertop reflect light, 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 ample texture and warmth. Choose furniture and textiles that feel plush and inviting, and layer in pillows and throws for extra comfort. Bonus points if you add a fire feature, like this little stove.

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Double Up

banquette nook with blue and yellow pillows
Laurie Black

Tap into wasted space to create bonus storage. Drawers built in beneath this window seat can hold 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're running out of cabinet space, find furniture that can 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

breakfast nook with glass round table
Annie Schlechter

Anything that stops the eye from moving around the room will register as a space-limiting boundary. Eliminate the obstacles, and you create a sense of limitlessness. For example, the glass top on this dining table virtually disappears, opening up and enlarging the eating area. The transparent surface also allows the table's decorative base to shine without weighing down the space. Rattan chairs further contribute to the airy feel and visual openness.

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Double Up with a Daybed

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 creates 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 visually expand a small room by wrapping the walls with wide, horizontal stripes. In this bedroom, a shiplap accent wall achieves this effect without overpowering the room. The soft white paint color ensures the breaks between boards are noticeable without visually breaking 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 a work surface next to the stove, compensating for the storage shortage. 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 Area

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. Open the lid 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

Small spaces beg for stowaway furniture. A modern take on the classic Murphy table works perfectly in a small kitchen corner, providing a dining area during mealtimes, then folding neatly into the wall. The quick setup and tear-down makes it easy to transition the room between dining and living space.

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Create a Catchall Space

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

Small homes might lack a designated entryway. When you're squeezed for space, use furniture to demarcate the entrance while keeping 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. Vintage suitcases stowed beneath keep this table from looking like a design afterthought.

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Opt for Oversize Art

graphic artwork midcentury living room cow hide rug
Tria Giovan

Lots of little pieces of art scattered around the room will make a small space feel cluttered. But one oversize piece of art can create a strong focal point that actually opens up a tight space. 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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Repurpose a Foyer Table

small bathroom modern sink tree wallpaper
Emily Followill

Squeeze more function into small spaces by looking up. 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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