Less is more.
Think a room or home that’s small in size can’t be big in design? Think again. It couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter the space, whether it’s a studio apartment or a room in an average size home that happens to be disproportionately small (like a powder room created from an extra closet), there are always ways to maximize every square foot.
It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of small space design isn’t necessarily to cram in as much as can fit, but rather to make the smartest design decisions possible. From choosing the right pieces for a cohesive look and hacks that create the illusion of a more expansive space, here are some of the best tips from top interior designers.
Bigger Is Better
When it comes to furniture size in a smaller room, bigger can surprisingly be better. Samantha Gallacher of Art+Loom and IG Workshop suggests maximizing space by using fewer pieces that are larger in size. “Don’t overcomplicate with small little furniture items because it will end up looking messy,” she says.
Dining benches are a perfect example of this according to Tammy Price of Los Angeles-based Fragments Identity. This is because they can easily slide underneath a table and stay out of the way. Furthermore, compared to dining chairs, benches also tend to take up less floor space overall. “When trying to maximize a small space, especially a dining area, sometimes you aren’t able to include a normal-sized table with dining chairs,” she says.
Functional Pieces Are A Must
Functional furniture is also helpful for keeping a small space from looking too cluttered. “Built-Ins are your friend,” says Donna Hoffman of Interiors By Donna Hoffman. “Consider built-ins in the bedroom for additional closet space or installing floor to ceiling cabinetry that surrounds the master bedroom to create more storage.”
If construction isn’t an option, but closet space is scarce, using a tall armoire as opposed to a wide dresser can make a room feel less cluttered.
Hoffman also recommends building a bench against a wall of windows. “You’ll take back unused space for additional seating and storage,” she says. Add some cushions and it becomes an instant reading nook.
Cheryl Eisen, who is the president and founder of Interior Marketing Group recommends opting for modular furniture in small spaces. “It’s both functional and efficient. Low profile furnishings, create maximal seating without detracting from the room’s large windows or wall displays,” she says.
Modular sectionals, in particular, are wise investments for people who plan to move to larger homes in the not too distant future.
Day beds (especially those accented with lots of pillows) are also useful for small spaces, according to Lance Thomas and Drew Hoffpauir of Room Service. “This allows for a transition from a daytime living space to a nighttime sleeping space. It is the perfect way for a home without a guest bedroom to transition a living space into an evening crash pad if need be,” they say.
If a daybed isn’t your style, Gallacher thinks a Murphy bed can be a great option for a studio apartment, pied-a-terre or even to turn a home office into a guest room.
While many people are afraid to go over the top with small spaces, most interior designers agree that big risks can pay off. Wallpaper is a great example of this. Thomas and Hoffpauir suggest using large-scale wallcovering in particular. “A small space allows you to make a huge statement without a large credit card statement. Fewer walls mean less wallcovering to purchase.”
While most people think that small spaces look best with just an accent wall, Los Angeled based interior designer Stefani Stein of August Abode, disagrees saying that wallpapering the entire room gives it a “distinctive and finished look.”
Not sure where to start with wallpaper? Stein suggests a powder room, calling these small spaces “the perfect place to experiment for people wary of introducing pattern, as it is a fully enclosed area.”
Not into wallpaper? Eisen recommends painting a dark accent wall instead. It can also make the room feel larger. “A dark accent wall can help push the visual space further back and create depth in the room,” she says.
Don’t Forget Window Treatments
Many people think of window treatments as an afterthought but Erin Hackett and Meghan Hackett-Cassidy of New York-based Hackett Interiors believe they should be considered early on in a renovation or refresh.
“In general, the fabric and style dictate the overall tone of the space. Pay close attention to the color and pattern to ensure the fabric complements the room while flowing with the rest of the home.”
Arrange Furniture Properly
Having a sofa that’s too long for the wall is a very common problem in small living rooms. If that is the case, Price recommends floating the sofa away from the wall. “Not all furniture pieces need to go against a wall. Actually, you can create a very cozy space building it out from the center of the room, no matter how small,” she says.
Edit Decor And Accessories
“Small space living means keeping what you love and need and selling, gifting or donating the rest,” says Hoffman. “How many mugs does a woman need? How many plants? Negative space is the life-blood of any beautiful and peaceful interior, regardless of design style.”
However, letting go of treasured objects, collections and gifts can be a major challenge for some people. So, while trying to edit it all down and get rid of as much as possible is the ultimate goal, it’s not the only way to go about decluttering a small space. Instead of keeping every piece of art, knickknack and decorative accessory out covering every last inch and surface, it is a better idea to simply store what can’t be parted with. Then swap out favorites (such as a small Lalique vase for an iconic Baccarat butterfly) seasonally or on occasion. After all, what could be a better use for all of those built-ins?
This content was originally published here.