20 Stylish Yet Functional Ways to Make the Most of Small Space Living

Decorating your home allows your personality and style to shine through. But when faced with the additional challenge of a small space, finding solutions to make the most of small space living can be stressful. Luckily, living in a small space doesn’t mean you should forego style for functionality – with a couple of clever tricks, organization solutions, and decorating ideas, you can maximize the possibilities of every room.

Whether you live in a cozy apartment in Chicago, IL, or want to maximize the square footage of your quaint Ottawa, ON home, we’ve got solutions for you. We surveyed experts for their best tips and tricks to make the most of small space living so you can outsmart your floor plan and make your living space feel as if it has doubled in size.


1) Start by decluttering your space

Declutter first, then invest in furniture that doubles as a storage solution to prevent you from shoving everything into a closet. Ottomans for linen storage and beds that have built-in storage are great places to start. If you have a small space, it’s essential to make sure you don’t overcrowd it with clutter and be creative when storing items. –Hello Clutter

2) Find pockets of usable storage space and get creative

Locate small unused areas of space and figure out a storage solution for the space – there are always areas like this in a home. Measure the area and analyze what the activity going on around that space is. Think about shortcomings in that area and then try to figure out a solution to the problem. For example, a small area on the side of a kitchen cabinet might be near the front door. Do you take off your shoes when entering the front door? If so, creating a vertical shoe holder is the right small space living idea for that spot. –Fine Designs & Interiors

3) Consider the function of the space

We like to design the room focused on how our clients will be using it 95% of the time and then allow for some flexibility for the other 5% via pieces that are easy to move around. This way, you won’t have to make trade-offs due to the limitations of the space. –Sanabria & Co

4) Create zones

Every piece needs to be functional and have a purpose, so it’s important to create zones. For example, you may have your living space and sleeping space in the same area; therefore, we recommend using rugs to ground each space, so they feel together, yet separate! Our go-to’s for small spaces are using light paint hues and lighter furniture to create an illusion of the larger space. –DWK Interiors

5) Be strategic about your seating

To create a sense of openness in a limited space, consider seating with legs and use various textures and materials to add dimension. Woven seating such as rattan and wicker is “big” right now because it incorporates both of these qualities. –Deborah Bettcher



6) Go bold with artwork

Make a statement in your small space with oversized art. People tend to buy small items for their small space, which works when we’re talking about furniture, but an oversized art piece is unexpected. It makes a great focal point and conversation piece too. –Design Directions

A single large piece of art will feel more calming, while a bunch of smaller pieces will make the space feel cluttered and overwhelming. Say no to a gallery wall in a small space. Even small spaces can benefit from art and it’s a great small space living idea to add some personality. –Collected Living Design

When in a small space, think big when it comes to art. Adding large scale works of art will draw the eye up and into the piece, expanding the visual impression of the room. –Heather McKeown, Land and Sky Designs

7) Make it uniform: remove bulky packaging and labels

Remove brand labels from storage containers and items from their original packaging. Original packaging takes up a lot of space and brand labels and price tags cause a lot of visual clutter, making your space look like it’s full of more stuff than it actually is. –Heart and Home Organizing

Use clear, refillable jars and containers to store your pantry and fridge items so you can easily see what you have. They look pretty, take up less space than traditional packaging, help you save money, are soothing for the mind, and are good for the environment. –Sustainable Lifestyle Solutions

8) Use the back of doors for added storage

Create space in a smaller area by using the back of doors for added storage (and not just for shoes). Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you can’t have beauty and functionality. Need a place for your pot lids, gift wrap, or pantry items? Use over-the-door products to make small space living a breeze. –HARMONie Organizing

9) Add wall hanging storage

When overall space is limited, hooks can be the perfect organizational tool. They maximize vertical storage and can be placed just about anywhere. From keys to coats, towels to totes, hooks can keep your daily use items close at hand. Not having to hang things up or store them away is just an added bonus. –Carly Tizzano Coaching

10) Utilize wall space

Small spaces require capitalizing on as much real estate as available, and the best way to do this is to use wall space instead of floor space. When the eye can see flooring, whether underneath items or through glass, the room looks more spacious. Consider using wall-mounted nightstands, floating shelves for storage, floating vanities, or Scandinavian style furniture with longer and slimmer legs to give the illusion of more space. –KH Home Design



11) Invite natural light in with paint

The right paint colors can make all the difference. We like to keep a small space light and airy to invite in as much natural light as possible. If you can paint, consider a pale sky-blue color for the ceiling. Our go-to ceiling color for condos with low ceilings is Benjamin Moore Lilly white; it never fails to make the space feel taller and more open. –Lagnappe Custom Interiors

12) Use all available space for storage

Using space judiciously for storage is key, but you also want to make sure things aren’t looking too busy. Think shelves with doors, a curtain to hide a pegboard, an ottoman that doubles as storage, or a floating desk or wall table that can be folded away when not in use. Don’t forget to maximize the space under your bed and add a plant for a touch of colorful joy. -Lauren Hass, Clutter Kicker

After you declutter your house or condo from any old, damaged, and unwanted items, ensure that every item has its designated spot and can be reached easily. When you want to get the most out of living in a small apartment or a house, you have to incorporate smart solutions into every possible space. Our most valuable piece of advice for living in a small space would be to keep everything organized. By utilizing a few simple and smart organizing solutions such as drawer dividers, labeled clear bins and baskets, and creating zones for all the things you own, you ensure your home will stay clutter and mess-free. –Feel Home

13) Take advantage of the room’s height

When organizing a small space, make sure you make the most of the height of the room. Take storage all the way to the ceiling to maximize usable space. –Brenna Morgan, Brenna Morgan Interiors

14) Maximizing your pantry

If you struggle to find adequate storage space inside your built-in pantry, consider swapping the items in your pantry with ones in your kitchen cabinets. Small space living often requires you to think outside of the box. Large serving pieces, pots, pans, even everyday dishware fit nicely inside of pantries, and likewise, packaged foods, canned goods, and baking ingredients fit beautifully inside kitchen cabinets. –Clear Box Clear Space

15) Use wallpaper to transform a small space

Wallpaper can instantly transform a room and is a great small space living idea to add personality. If you’re looking for wallpaper to decorate a smaller space, it’s often recommended that you start looking at light wallpaper colors first. Light wallpaper colors can make a room feel more spacious, making them well-suited for smaller rooms. In addition, using light wallpaper colors in rooms under less optimal lighting can be beneficial since they tend to make a room feel brighter, more open, and welcoming. Also, light wallpaper colors can unify the space much more by blending into the background rather than being the very first thing you see in the room. These are typically used to add some color to space but aren’t overwhelming since they’re lighter and less vibrant. –Walls Republic

With its engaging symmetry and angular lines, geometric designs are a perfect way to draw attention in a way that creates a dynamic sense of drama. Like stripes, they use the interplay between color and repeating patterns to make a space feel larger than life – either with a subtle touch or with a punchy edge. For sophistication, look for art deco designs, or why not try Aztec boho for a truly laid back vibe. – I Want Wallpaper



16) Go vertical

Double your real estate by taking advantage of vertical space. Overlooked areas like walls and back of doors can be optimized by adding shelves, hooks or wall racks. Whether it’s hanging shoes and hats in the bedroom or spices and cleaning supplies in the kitchen, over-the-door shelves are a must for maximizing space. In a small kitchen, walls can be a quick space saver for everything from coffee cups to pots and pans. A wall-mounted shelf with hooks frees up cabinet space for larger, less frequently used items, and shelf risers can be added to double the cabinet area. –B Home Pro Organizing

When you are organizing a small space, go vertical using higher shelves. For a pulled-together look, be sure to use matching bins. You can also select bins with pierced sides so your fingers can grab the bottom of the bins without having to get a step stool. –Bee and Peacock Organizing

Take advantage of all of the cabinet space you can by storing baking pans vertically and using shelf risers for dishes. This is a great small space living idea to create extra storage in your cabinet and maximize the space. –In Good Order

17) Give the illusion of a higher ceiling with paint

In a small space, paint the ceiling, crown molding, and the top 8-12” of the wall in the same color – it will instantly lift the space and appear larger.  A wide, horizontal banding around the room will also achieve the same effect. –Cristina DePina Interior Design

18) Opt for “floating” storage solutions

Use custom “floating” case goods wherever possible. Floating pieces are cleaner and lighter in appearance and take up less physical space while remaining functional. These are great small space living ideas, especially for items like vanities and nightstands, since you’ll be saving precious inches. –Patti Johnson Interiors

19) Minimize counter clutter

As challenging and counterintuitive as it may seem, keep your kitchen counters as clear as humanly possible. When space is tight and cabinet space is limited, kitchen items can quickly spill out onto the counters, making your space feel cluttered, smaller, and much less functional. Counters should be reserved for food prep space (not for decorating or storage space). Swap out your knife block for a wall-mounted magnetic knife strip, declutter your spices down to a few everyday staples that are easy to tuck away, and enjoy the clean, open, airy kitchen that remains. –Space for Simplicity

20) Choose multifunctional pieces

No matter your reason for living in a small space, functionality has to surpass the aesthetics in the long run. Consider decluttering and getting rid of what you don’t need and have not used for at least more than a year. Get furniture that offers multifunctional purposes such as an ottoman – can easily double up as a coffee table. –Manjano Zuri

Originally published on Redfin

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Date Posted: July 26, 2021

Category: Uncategorized

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