Small space living isn’t what it used to be. The one-time trend, characterized by purposeful paring down (hey, Marie Kondo) and brilliantly efficient tiny houses, seems to be on its way out by some accounts, including two 2017 surveys that showed one common theme at the top of home-seekers’ wish lists: more space.
In fact, of the 2,264 U.S. adults ages 18 and up surveyed by Trulia about the size of their home last year, only nine percent wished for less space. (No judgment, but huh?)
The good news for the rest of us is that new homes are getting bigger, with median square footage up 20 percent — from 2000 square feet to 2,500 square feet — in the last 18 years. But in older homes, urban hubs, and places where spreading out simply isn’t an option, the secret to making a small space feel bigger all hinges on how you decorate.
Design pros will tell you that there are two ways to make a tiny room feel bigger: One is by creating the illusion of more space — say, hanging mirrors and sticking to neutral paint colors, for instance — the other is by physically freeing up space, clearing clutter, bringing in more streamlined furniture, and repurposing items you already own, like the folks at Kin did in the video below.
With either approach, the key is to look at which areas of your home aren’t living up to their fullest potential. From a wall niche with just enough depth to carve out a “home office” or a floating bathroom vanity that allows for more, perhaps even mobile, storage underneath, these small space ideas prove that less can really be more.
In The Bedroom: Don’t Overlook The Corners
Wall mounting a custom driftwood headboard and pair of brass sconces allowed writer Catherine Dash to forego nightstands and make even better use of her 10-foot by 15-foot bedroom.
“Getting creative with my decor and storage options became the focus,” she says, describing the space as “so limiting that only one furniture configuration really worked.”
To make the most of it, Dash employed a time-tested small-bedroom decorating trick: tucking her bed into the corner, grounding it with a vintage Turkish rug — which also helps create the distinct zones that make a small space feel bigger. She finished it off with a piece of art and a macramé wall hanging. A storage bed that lifts up to stash clothes and bedding make the genius of this space-saving decor complete.
In The Bathroom: Float Your Vanity
“Small baskets are a small bathroom’s best friend,” say the experts at Katie Martinez Design. Plus, mounting your vanity — especially console and cabinet-style vanities, which are already full of storage potential — allow extra room to tuck baskets full of extra towels and toilet paper underneath and out of sight.
Pedestal sinks, on the other hand, take up valuable bathroom real estate and don’t offer the kind of storage you’ll need when space is otherwise limited. Similarly, traditional faucets can take up more countertop space than you realize, so if a renovation is in the cards for your tiny bathroom, consider installing wall-mounted hardware instead.
Martinez suggests making your accessories (or your necessities) worth looking at or housing them in canisters that can be left out on display.
In The Living Room: Hang Drapes High
Designer Sarah Rosenhaus put several space-saving tricks to work when styling the L.A. home of swimsuit designer Marysia Reeves. Her go-to for creating the illusion of more height? Hanging curtains high “to create a sense of dimension, height, and drama,” she says.
But this trick has to be coupled with an eye for proportions. “That is so important when decorating,” Rosenhaus adds, “You want to keep the furniture in scale.” A light color palette also is necessary to visually open up the space. Here, she stuck with a classic SoCal white-on-white vibe that makes the walls virtually disappear.
Underfoot, a plush Moroccan rug extends beyond the seating area, widening the view, while an acrylic table serves as a perch for books and flowers without taking up too much visual room.
In The Attic: Make The Most Of A Nook
A dramatically peaked space like the one found in Tamara Kaye-Honey's California home proves to be the perfect spot for a work station, though any wall niche deep enough to house a desk and computer monitor will work.
"My office nook is my secret hideaway," says Kaye-Honey. A vintage Karl Springer dining table was reimagined as a desk and paired with a Pace dining chair upholstered in green velvet; gold trunks tucked neatly under the desk provide storage inside and out.
And though there’s hardly competition with the room’s architectural drama, an eye-catching light fixture — in this case, a rare Tiffany stained-glass pendant — helps the space feel like less of an afterthought and offers another opportunity, when turned on, to expand the feel of the room.
In The Kitchen: Consider Glass Shelving
Open floor plans have already proven to be a boon for tiny homes, and this rustic-meets-industrial home takes the concept even further, with its glass exposed shelving suspended above the kitchen counters.
Not only do the shelves provide extra storage space to display a collection of pottery, but they allow the room’s natural light to shine through and expand the space even further.
Open shelving may be just the modern touch that this otherwise rustic kitchen needs, but it also serves as a reminder — even more so in tight quarters — to keep the look neat and tidy.