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Feeling crowded at home? Here are 8 design tips to make a small space feel bigger

Storage 'absolutely essential' in small spaces
Working from home doesn't have to feel like a tight squeeze.

When you’re short on space, a little bit of planning goes a long way. The way a room is decorated, organized, and laid out can really maximize a small space and make it feel less crowded. Whether it’s an office set-up, a living room, or your entire home that’s feeling busy, these design tips will help you make better use of your living space.

Small doesn’t mean small only

Just because your space is small does not mean that the things in your space need to be small. While we wouldn’t recommend putting multiple large pieces in one room, it’s okay to have one statement piece that’s on the larger side. You’ll need to be strategic about your selection here a statement piece is just that a statement.

Start by falling in love with the large piece you select and build around it. In many cases, one large piece can make a space feel bigger than adding in several small pieces and busying things up.

Multifunctional pieces are a must

Multifunctional pieces need to be utilized whenever possible if space is limited. Turning two items into one is a great way to make your home feel less crowded. Here are a few examples of multifunctional items you could add to your home:

  • Ottomans can also function as side tables or extra seating
  • A nice bench can also function as a coffee table
  • Day beds can be used for living room seating and as a guest bed

Another great tip is to look for items that fold up. They might not be multifunctional from a usage standpoint, but being able to hide an object has a major appeal when your small space is crowded. If you don’t need an item out all the time, fold it up and store it away. More on storage ideas later.

Place your lighting carefully

Before we talk about lighting, let’s discuss the importance of keeping your floor clear. In small spaces, surfaces are limited, and it’s crucial to keep them clear whenever possible to make things feel open. For this reason, we’d recommend looking for lighting options that don’t take up floor space. It’s much easier to lift your lighting off the ground (you should also consider lifting shelves and nightstands whenever possible) than it is to lift your couch.

Now, to the lighting itself. It’s important to place lighting at multiple levels to keep things illuminated. Proper lighting brings balance to any room, making your space feel less crowded and more inviting. In small spaces, it’s best to invest in lifted lighting fixtures like wall sconces in the living room, or pendant lighting in the kitchen and bedroom.

This is even more important if your small space is low on windows, which are the best source of light in any room. To make up for a lack of natural lighting, try adding mirrors to reflect the lighting you do have around the room. The addition of a fancy mirror that suits your taste can also be a great way to add personality to your space.

Put an emphasis on cohesiveness

Keeping things feeling open often boils down to a sense of cohesiveness, so be thoughtful about what you bring into your space. Colours are extremely important, and we’d recommend unifying the space by using the same warm or light colours of paint throughout an individual room. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but in general, you’re safer with light colours when openness is the goal.

If you do choose to go this route, add splashes of colour to your pieces, not necessarily to the walls themselves.

Storage is absolutely essential

In small spaces, things can get out of control quickly, so having storage options is a must. Before you bring any new item into your home, have a game plan. You should know where it will be stored when it is not in use. Better yet, try to bring items into your home that can be used for storing other items. Use pieces like ottomans to store blankets and extra pillows, add shelving in closets when there is unused space, and make sure cabinets run as high as possible to utilize ceiling space.

Weekend projects can really help increase your storage space and make you feel less crowded at home, so get on Pinterest and start looking at custom options. There are likely several places in your home that could become a storage nook.

Choose the right rugs and furniture for your room

Rug size is another common mistake that people make when decorating a small area. Just because your room is small does not mean that your rug should be small. Your floor covering should sit below most of your furniture to expand the footprint of your space, or even run from wall to wall.

When it comes to furniture, think non-traditional for most pieces. You don’t want heavy, solid-looking furniture, for the most part, you want to find pieces with thin lines that provide a much lighter visual. When you examine coffee tables, chairs, and side tables, look for items with thin footings that give a sense of openness. For dining room tables in small spaces, think about investing in a round table that takes up less surface space than a traditional rectangular table. They’re just as functional and much less bulky.

Use your walls wisely

While we recommend placing the few large items you may have against walls in a small space, you should make an effort to give your walls space from your things whenever possible. This is a tough urge to resist, but it can really open things up.

As for what goes on the walls themselves, we have a few specific tips. First, be sure you’re using a wall mount for your TV as opposed to sitting it on a console. TV consoles are one of the biggest wastes of space in any home. Second, to further expand on mirrors, they’re also incredibly good at making your space feel bigger. They don’t just spread light, they also trick the eye into seeing more square footage. Finally, when it comes to putting art up on your walls, make a conscious effort to bring artwork up. Don’t just add your pieces at eye level, shoot higher and let your ceilings help add more depth to your home.

Don’t be afraid to make changes

Setting up small spaces can be challenging, but there is one major advantage of having less space from a design perspective: It’s much easier to make changes and adjustments.

Don’t be afraid to change course. If you paint a room and it’s just not working or making things feel cramped, throw some new paint on the wall and see what works. Bring pieces of furniture or fabrics home, set them up, lay them out, and if they don’t fit - take them back. Change can be daunting in large spaces but in small spaces, some of those same daunting projects can be accomplished in a day or less.

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