10 Tips to Make the Most of Small Space Living

By Tema Flanagan

Whether you’re pursuing your dream of life in a tiny house or living in a smaller-than-average house or apartment by necessity, small space living offers unique challenges and wonderful opportunities. From design to storage and beyond, the usual rules don’t apply when it comes to tight spaces—small space living doesn’t have to mean constant clutter and miniature everything. Take your small space from claustrophobic to cozy with these essential tips.

1. Streamline your stuff

Small space living is an excellent opportunity to reevaluate your possessions as a whole and get rid of all but the necessities and those non-essentials that bring you joy. From last year’s receipts and old magazines to clothes you haven’t worn in ages, hanging on to unnecessary stuff will only make your small space cluttered and untidy. The more you minimize clutter, the less you’ll have to store and organize, and the larger your space will feel.

Of course, the larger your household size, the harder it can be to streamline. If your situation requires it—and your budget allows it—you may consider renting a small storage unit to house certain items (think seasonal belongings like holiday decorations, beach umbrellas, and camping gear) separately to reduce the storage pressure on your home’s small footprint.

2. Organization, organization, organization

While some lucky people seem to have been born with organizational superpowers, this can be a challenge for those of us with average capabilities. Still, small spaces function best when they’re highly organized, so it’s crucial that you find creative ways to organize your space.

For example, you could opt for open shelving to make your kitchen feel more spacious or loft your bed to increase floor space. Make this adage your motto: a place for everything and everything in its place.

3. Keep it tidy

When your square footage is especially small, leaving out just two or three things can quickly make your small space feel messy and claustrophobic. The good news: if you’ve already minimized your stuff and set up some organizational systems, it should be much easier to keep things tidy. And the insta-clutter effect produced by small spaces is great motivation to pick up after yourself as you go and clean a little each day rather than waiting for things to get out of hand.

4. Use color to your advantage

Whether you rent or own your small space, painting is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to dramatically change the look and feel of your home. Choosing lighter hues for your walls will produce an airy effect that can make your space feel bigger. Alternatively, a dark color like black can be used to expand a space. Black walls add depth to a room, which can create the illusion of space.

When it comes to décor, neutral tones do the best job of visually expanding each room. Pops of color and texture add interest, but be especially frugal with large prints and loud patterns, which can dwarf your space and make it feel even smaller.

5. Make smart design choices

In addition to color, other design choices can have a big impact on your small space living experience. In general, look for furnishings that visually expand your home. Low-profile seating can create the illusion of higher ceilings. Tables, chairs, and shelves in glass, acrylic, and wire mesh are visually lighter, and open shelving tends to look less bulky than cabinetry. And, when it comes to upholstered furniture, pieces with exposed, slender legs (rather than slipcovers) subtly enlarge your space.

One last thing: though smaller spaces call for smaller furnishings in general, break up the scale of your space by including one or two larger pieces to avoid creating a miniature dollhouse look.

6. Pick furniture that does double duty

Small space living calls for furniture that serves multiple purposes or provides unexpected storage space. This could be as simple as using a trunk for a coffee table, allowing a large kitchen island to double as a dining table, or hanging hooks on the side of a bookshelf.

Sleeper sofas and fold-out desks are obvious–and highly functional–options, but the general trend toward downsizing has yielded a vast array of creative and unexpected multifunctional furniture options that add as much style as functionality.

7. Use vertical space and corners

In small spaces, walls and corners are your friends. Look up to find extra storage space in the form of open shelving that can easily climb walls, and think of corners as bonus storage space that can house bookshelves, a makeshift closet, or even a small office setup.

8. Get creative with kitchen storage

Small space living can be especially challenging when it comes to the kitchen, especially if you’re an avid cook with a large collection of tools and gadgets. While it’s important to streamline your stuff in the kitchen, clever storage solutions can help you maximize your space.

Tilt-out trash cans, over-the-door storage racks, drawer dividers, and backsplash storage units, combined with DIY kitchen storage solutions, are all options that give your small kitchen a big boost.

9. Maximize light

One easy way to make your small space feel bigger is to maximize natural light. Go for something light and airy or—if your home is private enough—consider foregoing window dressings everywhere but in the bedrooms. If windows are in short supply, hang a large, decorative mirror opposite a  window to multiply its effect.

10. Embrace the great outdoors

Whether you live in the country or the concrete jungle, spending time outdoors can reduce the pressure of living in a small space (especially when you share that space with others). If possible, consider adding decks and other outdoor “rooms” to effectively expand your living area. If that isn’t an option, hit up a park or a local trail regularly. It won’t make your space feel any bigger, but it just might help you enjoy it more once you get home.

More Home Inspiration

Blog

Lessons from a Tiny House Build

Tour a 160-square-foot tiny home designed and built by the homeowners. Find out how they did it, what they learned, and what they wish they knew going in.

Maintenance & Renovation

How to Stain Wood: Tips for Large and Small Projects

Learn the best types of wood to stain, the tools you need, the type of stain to use, and how to stain wood for small or large projects.

Maintenance & Renovation

Soundproofing for Apartments

We explore eight easy and inexpensive strategies for soundproofing your apartment. Keep noise inside or out with these methods you can tackle in a single weekend.

Blog

7 Instances When Renting Is Better Than Buying

Homeownership may seem like a financially smart move, but if you don’t have a strong enough credit score or are shopping in a seller’s market, renting may be the better option. Here are seven instances when renting may beat buying.

Exterior of small American house with blue paint and red entrance door. Northwest, USA
Costs and Coverage

Best 4 Home Warranty Companies for Rental Properties (2022)

Are you a landlord? Use our guide to find the best home warranty for your rental property that will save you thousands in home repairs and maintenance.

Blog

64 Projects to Increase
Home Resale Value This Weekend

When we think of increasing resale value, big reno projects are often prioritized. But there are plenty of minor tasks that can be done with just as much effect. Boost your home’s resale value this weekend with these 64 projects, big and small.

Maintenance & Renovation

How to Choose a Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project

Where to start your search, what to look for, questions to ask, and red flags to avoid.

Home Warranty

Most Popular Outdoor DIY Project In Each State

Click here to see what the most popular outdoor DIY project is in your state.

Home Warranty

Is Winter Actually the Best Time for a Home Renovation?

Summer may be the most popular time to take on a home renovation, but there are key advantages to cost and availability afforded only in winter.

By continuing to browse or by clicking “OK” you agree to the storing of first- and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Privacy Policy.

OK