10 Effective Tips For Making the Most Out of Small Space Interiors

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By Kristine Schnell / Published by Dwell
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Small space living can be a challenge. As an urban dweller, it’s important to find useful solutions to living small, especially if you thrive off of having ample storage or still want to host dinner parties.

With just a few useful tips and tweaks, you can create a small space that you're proud to call home.


1. Edit relentlessly

This could be one of the most important tips for any space, but it rings especially true for small space dwellers. Do you have things in your home that are not useful, beautiful, or that you’re hanging on to for the wrong reasons? Just let it go!  

Keep the things you love and get rid of the rest. 

Keep the things you love and get rid of the rest. 

 2. Invest in quality fabrics and textures

Again, this is a great rule of thumb for any home, but in small spaces, you tend to use the limited amount of furniture you have more frequently. This means that investing in well-made upholstery with varying textures will create a haven that’s truly comfortable. 

A mix of soft, high-quality fabrics in varying textures can add depth to your living area. 

A mix of soft, high-quality fabrics in varying textures can add depth to your living area. 

 3. Select a neutral color palette to guide your design

While following a soft, neutral color scheme, you can add playful pops of color with items that are easy to switch out, including throw pillows and accessories. Bold, colorful pieces of artwork in neutral spaces will become conversation pieces and can add a sense of energy. 

 Pairing patterned throw pillows with a neutral sofa creates a soothing palette in a tight space. 

 Pairing patterned throw pillows with a neutral sofa creates a soothing palette in a tight space. 

 4. Think of the "jewel box effect" 

Some of the best spaces around can be tiny rooms—mainly because they invite the opportunity to really focus on the details. In small spaces, everything should feel deliberately chosen. For renters, this might mean furniture and accessories, whereas for homeowners, it’s a good idea to invest in more permanent items like lighting, hardware, and fixtures. After all, you’ll be buying (and spending) far less than you would if you were purchasing en masse for a 5,000-square-foot home. 

 Beautifully finished knobs from Aussie brand Rogerseller.

 Beautifully finished knobs from Aussie brand Rogerseller.

 5. Choose furniture that can do double duty 

Here’s where hosting dinner for 20 comes into play. Consider taking a conventional sofa and using it as a banquette (just add risers like you did for your dorm room bed). It’s also a great idea to have a console table that can double as a desk, or a bar cart that acts as a serving station or tea/coffee caddy. 

 Flexible furniture solutions make small space living easier. 

 Flexible furniture solutions make small space living easier. 

 6. Add some life 

We’ve all seen small spaces that have some successful elements, but somehow still feel cold and impersonal. Adding in living, organic elements can make the difference between sterile and dynamic. Add logs to your fireplace (or birch logs cut to fit), a plant (we’ve found snake plants are virtually impossible to kill, regardless of how much light it receives), or a bundle of fresh flowers. Feel free to play with scale. 

Adding in living elements adds warmth to small spaces. 

Adding in living elements adds warmth to small spaces. 

 7. Purchase original art that feels a little oversized for your space 

In small spaces, it’s usually better to have one large, eye-catching piece, rather than having lots of smaller pieces that can contribute to a sense of clutter. One great place to source original and affordable art is from Creative Growth gallery in Oakland, California

 Go big and bold with large-scale art. 

 Go big and bold with large-scale art. 

 8. Deliberately create a focal point 

For small space dwellers, it’s critical to create one or two primary focal points in your home. For some people, the focal point may be a large or architecturally interesting window. For others, this may be a large-scale piece of art, a collection of objects that hold court on your coffee table, a fireplace, or a T.V. Any of these will make great focal points if you’re strategic in building your space around those vantage points. 

 Deliberately create a focal point in your space. Keep in mind that a little symmetry never hurts.  

 Deliberately create a focal point in your space. Keep in mind that a little symmetry never hurts.  

 9. If you can, opt for full-scale furniture and use less of it

Though there are exceptions to this rule, it may benefit you to consider using full-sized furniture and keeping the floor plan minimal, rather than finding a miniature piece of furniture that you’re not comfortable with. 

 Make sure to leave enough room for walkways between furnishings to avoid feeling cramped. 

 Make sure to leave enough room for walkways between furnishings to avoid feeling cramped. 

 10. Carve out spaces to showcase your favorite objects 

For a home chef, this may be a kitchen wall display of beautiful copper pots—for a photographer, it could mean a bookshelf that showcases a prized collection of vintage cameras. Don’t be afraid to ditch convention and do things your way. It’s your home after all—and a vehicle for your own self expression. 

 A wall of artfully arranged copper pots with a contrasting paint color makes a bold statement in this small kitchen.   

 A wall of artfully arranged copper pots with a contrasting paint color makes a bold statement in this small kitchen.