How to Live Large in a Small Space

BY NANCY MATTIA ON JULY 21ST, 2017

blog-image Incorporating a large mirror, right-sized furniture and the use of a single, basic paint color can make small spaces appear larger.

When you think “studio apartment,” visions of Murphy beds probably dance in your head. While that foldup-in-the-wall bed is a classic space saver for studio dwellers, there are plenty of other ways to make the most of limited square footage, from paint to multipurpose products. Check out some tips to living comfortably in a small space.

1.Draw up a furniture plan. How do you know what size sofa, chairs and tables to buy if you don’t know what will fit in the space and the best places to position them? To avoid making any mistakes, think through the space by blocking it out on paper or with a free online software program like Google SketchUp or Planner 5D. As you’re figuring out what should go where, consider traffic flow: Even if your small space is too minuscule for a party, you’ll want the space to flow well for daily living.

2. Think multifunction furniture. Make the most of every inch by choosing furnishings that do double-duty, like a bed that’s also a sofa, a coffee table that "flips" to become a dining- height table or a side or end table that can be turned into a bar cart. Many manufacturers like IKEA and Wayfair are loading their product lines with innovative, multipurpose designs meant specifically for small spaces.

3. Streamline your stuff. Nothing will make a small space look even smaller than clutter – too much furniture, way too many accessories, every surface jam-packed. “Buy and possess fewer, better things that last,” says Lori Weatherly, an interior designer in the New York City area. “Evaluate how you live and what you use, and if you don’t use something then don’t buy it or store it.”

4. Take advantage of the walls’ storage capacity. Walls don’t claim footprint space but do make ideal storage spots, Weatherly says. Think about mounting bikes, cabinets, bookshelves and swing lamps on the walls, and putting shelves above a doorway.

5. Install a mirror. A well-placed mirror can create an optical illusion and make a studio seem bigger as its reflective properties bounce the light around, adding depth and brightness.

6. Pay attention to furniture scale. “Many pieces of furniture that are available at retail today are too big for a studio [apartment] and can be big disappointments,” Weatherly says. While you don’t have to have dollhouse-size furniture, there should be enough room to walk around each piece when it’s in place in your home.

7. Keep walls or floors the same color. An effective way to visually enlarge tight quarters is to use color in a monolithic way, Weatherly says. “For example, use one floor finish or one paint color throughout the apartment for a cohesive look.” Using a variety of colors will chop up the space, highlighting its limited square footage.

8. Use area rugs to define each space. “Small throw rugs with a tribal or bold pattern can be gems and function more as objects,” Weatherly says. Make sure each is large enough to fit all the furniture in the arrangement on top. Another option: installing a sisal rug for one uninterrupted look and feel.

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