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Published on November 10, 2023


Small Space Design Ideas to Transform Your Home

Designing a smaller home comes with unique challenges such as limited storage and insufficient lighting. Thankfully, there are many effective DIY ideas that can transform your home—from the bedroom to the living room—into an efficient, well organized, and comfortable place you enjoy spending time in.

Why Rethink a Small Space?

Studies show that clutter have a negative impact on our mental health by increasing stress levels. But what can you do when you're short of space? Beyond tidying up and organizing, there are a number of techniques we can apply to make our interior spaces feel bigger and airier. Here are our best ideas for arranging, furnishing, and decorating a space to make it look bigger, but also to free up space and improve flow and circulation.

Create the Illusion of More Space

Don’t worry about adding a house extension: you can create the illusion of more space for a fraction of the cost with the right interior design strategy:

  • Light: One of the easiest tricks is to simply use light to help make the room seem bigger and brighter. Optimizing the amount of natural light or increasing the artificial light in the room can help as well. Layered lighting can be particularly effective in a small living room. This involves mixing and matching lighting fixtures such as table lamps, floor lamps, and ceiling lighting to give the room more depth and dimension.
  • Colours: Light paint colours such as white, beige, light green, light blue, and yellow are known to reflect light and make a small space feel bigger.
  • Mirrors: Mirrors are another popular suggestion when it comes to small space decor ideas. Trick the eye into thinking a room is larger by adding a decorative mirror as a focal point. By reflecting the adjacent areas of the room, mirrors give the illusion of more expansive space. Using other reflective and glass surfaces in the room, such as glass shelves, will contribute to this effect as well.
  • Accent Wall: You can also make a statement with your walls! If your furniture is more minimalistic, opt for bolder wall decor. Check out some of our favourite accent wall DIY projects!
Boho-style living room with an accent wall
Living room with white walls and a large mirror
Mudroom with lots of storage

Designer Tip

In a small space, drawing the eyes upwards can also help create the illusion of high ceilings. Panel curtains and decorative wallpapers are great—and budget-friendly—ways to achieve this effect.

Optimize the Furniture Arrangement

The arrangement of your furniture pieces is pivotal when designing the layout of a small space and reducing visual clutter. Here are our best tips:

  • Size: Start by selecting appropriately sized furniture. Pieces that are proportionate to the room won’t overwhelm the space and will allow for better flow and accessibility.
  • Placement: Strategic arrangement of furniture is equally important for a more spacious room look. Placing pieces thoughtfully can maximize floor space and create a harmonious balance within the room.
  • Design. Utilizing space-saving furniture options such as foldable tables, wall-mounted desks, and extendable dining tables can further enhance the functionality of a compact area.
Small kitchen with an island

A small living room, in particular, presents the unique challenge of providing enough seating without overcrowding the space. To get that cozy living space feel without taking up too much room, use a compact loveseat with a plush and comfortable design, but a smaller footprint. In the kitchen, you can offer additional seating when entertaining by using counter-height stools, allowing you to seat multiple people while taking up minimal floor space. Incorporating a rollaway island also provides additional workspace and storage while offering the flexibility to be moved away when more floor space is needed.
Kitchen with an office spaceBathroom with a laundry room cornerLiving room with a workspace

Embrace Multifunctional Room Design

Allowing a single space to serve multiple purposes will help you make the most out of limited square footage. Multifunctional rooms are not only a practical solution for space constraints, but they also encourage creative design approaches, allowing you to tailor the space to your unique needs.

For example:

  • Living room with a home office
  • Combined bathroom and laundry room
  • Family room with a fitness corner
  • Guest room that functions as an office
  • Dining room and social area
  • Office and craft room
  • Learning space in a playroom

Investing in versatile, compact, foldable, or stackable furniture will enable seamless transitions between different functions, facilitating organized and spacious living environments.

Click the arrows for more inspiration!

Designer Tip

Smaller spaces don’t mean you can’t have houseplants; the trick is simply to select suitable varieties. Small space plant decor ideas include placing vining plants on top of higher shelves or surfaces where they can make a big visual impact without taking up floor space. Using tall and slender plants with a larger canopy but a small footprint is another excellent option.

Small bathroom with lots of storage

Maximize the Available Storage

In a smaller home or apartment, you need to look for every opportunity to create more storage. This includes making use of every nook and cranny and adding storage solutions, like shoe racks and organizers, that can be used to corral clutter.

Additionally, maximizing a small space involves utilizing every available surface. A door organizer, for example, is perfect for storing smaller toiletries in the bathroom or bottles and jars in the kitchen and making use of otherwise wasted vertical space. Wall-mounted shelves and cabinets will help make use of vertical space as well.

Multifunctional furniture is another key to increasing storage space in a small living room or small bedroom. In the living space, ottomans can be used as a table, seating, and storage while a bench under a bay window will provide seating up top and storage underneath. In a small bedroom, you can utilize hidden storage space under the bed with wood or plastic containers to store clothes and other items. Some bins even come fitted with wheels for easy access.

Finally, good closet organization systems will help maximize available closet space in bedrooms, mudrooms, and entryways, effortlessly reducing clutter and keeping extra items out of sight.

Change the Division of the Space

Sometimes, the best solution for redesigning a small space is to make changes to the dimensions or division of the space itself. If you have the option, consider tearing down a non-structural wall to open up the area and create a more breathable and versatile layout.

An easy DIY way to make a space more functional is simply to divide it more effectively. Incorporating a partition wall or a stylish room divider can segregate areas without compromising the open feel, allowing for multifunctionality within a singular room.
Family room with a wood slat partition wall
Fitness corner in a basement
Small home office under basement stairs

The use of sliding doors instead of traditional swing doors is another ingenious solution, as they conserve space and offer a sleek room look. They can be particularly effective in separating adjoining rooms, like a kitchen and a living room, allowing you to alternate between openness and privacy as needed.

With these changes, you can achieve a more balanced and open ambiance in even the most cramped spaces. And don’t hesitate to combine several of the techniques mentioned above to make the most of your small space!

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