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10 Things You Can Do to Maximize a Small Space

by Heather Warthen
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Decorating any room in your home can have its challenges, especially when you’re dealing with a pint-sized space. Whether you live in a beach bungalow, tiny house or a studio apartment, finding a way to be inventive with your small space can have a BIG impact! In fact, small spaces can be some of the most impactful and eye-catching when you work with the right colors and design elements. Here are 10 easy tips to follow to make the most of the space you’ve got while creating a home that is both stylish and functional. 

1. Organize Your Closets – It’s easy to shove all your stuff behind a closet door and forget about it – out of sight, out of mind, right? If you’re trying to maximize a small space, decluttering your closet is VITAL and should be organized to utilize all vertical space efficiently. You don’t have to spend a ton of money designing a new closet and building custom shelves. Wire baskets are a good way to stay organized and add a bit of style and there are various hanging systems you can install yourself that expand the usability of your closet. If you choose to go the custom route, keep in mind custom shelves, drawer organizers and shoe racks easily increase your home’s value.

2. Keep It Clean and Clutter Free – When it comes to a small space, less is more. If you don’t have a ton of space, even a couple things left out can make the entire place feel like a mess. It’s important to always edit and display only your favorite and most essential personal items. Try and make a habit of cleaning and clearing clutter at the start of each season. An easy and inexpensive tip is to use bowls, baskets, bins and hooks throughout your home to make cleaning up extra easy. Plus, if you stay in the habit of keeping your home clean, it will be easy to get it ready to sell when the time comes. According to National Association of Realtors 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 87% of online home shoppers said photos were integral to their home search. A clean house will make those photos stand out.

3. Purchase Furniture That Is Multifunctional – Keep in mind how your furniture pieces will improve the functionality of the space. Where possible, choose furniture with a dual purpose, such as a bed with storage drawers or a desk underneath. If you decide to use a large piece of furniture, make sure it can do double duty and house the majority of your storage needs, without having to use other pieces of furniture to block valuable space. 

4. Maximize Wall Storage – Who among us hasn’t stuck a big, bulky bookshelf on a wall simply because we didn’t know what else to do? Problem is, those oversized storage furniture pieces take up a ton of space and make rooms feel tiny. Take your shelves off the floor and opt for wall shelves, mirrors or hanging baskets instead. 

5. Mirror, Mirror – Use the magical powers of mirrors to make a room seem larger than it really is. Adding a mirror to an entryway, mantle or bedroom will create the illusion of grandeur. Plus, mirrors make great use of light and can reflect a lovely view or piece of art.

6. Choose Neutral Tones – The combination of neutral colors and natural light and will trick the eye into thinking there’s more space than there actually is. Keep the main color scheme simple and throw in some subtle textures and patterns in your accent pieces to add a bit of variety and personality. Don’t mistake “neutral” for bland – playing with pops of color on an accent wall or adding a whimsical wallpaper will define your space and act as a backdrop for your furniture pieces. 

7. Create Focal Walls and Vignettes – Instead of utilizing each room for only one use, create a floorplan that sections off the space according to your needs, then consider the intended purpose of each area. For example, you might have an entry zone near your front door where you open the mail and a small reading nook tucked in the corner by a window. By adding visual interest to each area, such as a mirror or eye-catching piece of artwork, you can create the feeling of a separate room. 

8. Lighten Up with Lucite, Crystal and Glass – This one might seem obvious, but clear objects take up very little visual space, which is great for anyone working with less square footage. Consider a Lucite dining set, glass-top table or add a crystal chandelier. This will reflect light beautifully and streamline any space.  

9. Scale of Furniture – Contradictory to what you may think, outfitting a small space with a mishmash of scaled down furniture can make it feel busy and out of sync. By choosing just a few larger pieces you can actually make a room feel grander. 

“Too often consumers think my space is small, so I’ll buy a bunch of small pieces. Top designers know that’s the exact opposite of good space planning — one stunning statement piece of anything always makes a better impact than many busy small items just creating visual clutter.” says award-winning interior designer Charmaine Wynter of Charmaine Wynter Interiors Inc. Another tip is to fight the urge to push all of your furniture up against the walls. If you create space behind the furniture, it makes the room look wider than it is.

10. Finish Your Design with Some Greenery – No matter how large your space is, it’s always a good idea to add a few hints of green with either hanging plants or small succulents to make the room feel fresh. Extensive research by NASA has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in just 24 hours. It has also been proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15 percent), reduce stress levels and boost your mood. In addition to cleaning the air and adding a bit of visual interest, plants create a sense of depth and expand the borders or a room.  

A small space is your chance to get creative. Just because you don’t have a ton of square footage is no reason to sacrifice personality. When designing a small space, just remember to ALWAYS edit. Ali LaBelle, Creative Director at Ban.do, says, “It’s important to me that I see purpose and personality within the things I have around my home. If they simply exist to exist, they aren’t worth the space they consume.”  By following these basic rules you’ll be able to design a home that works for you and your lifestyle. 

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