20 Little Known Small Room Ideas to Maximize Space

 

We’ve been talking a lot recently about maximizing small spaces and hidden storage. This post has some overlap, but it’s about small room ideas.

And, these ideas include two main ideas.

  • How to give the illusion of more space
  • Space-saving furnishings and storage ideas when the spaces are tight.

 

Oh, and not all of these are “little known.” But, hopefully, some of them will be ideas you haven’t considered before.

 

The first thing I’d like to say regarding a small room is:

 

Unless a room is insanely small, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Small rooms are cozier and more intimate. But still, we need places to put ourselves and our stuff.

So, speaking of stuff.

 

pare down

 

Yeah; just a friendly reminder. The less you have in the room, the more space you’ll have. And, if you need help paring down, please consider taking the Done & Done organizing course. I’ve just started it, and it’s really good. Plus there’s a Facebook page you can join for support.

(Please note that I will make a small commission if you sign up for the course at no extra charge to you. However, it’s a great buy and a terrific course on organizing with a lot of support available.)

 

However, paring down doesn’t mean sterile and boring in a small room.

 

Annouchka Engla - pretty pink dining room and kitchen with high ceilings - Make small rooms look bigger

Annouchka Engel

Very pretty apartment with a fireplace. I like how it’s open, but not too open.

 

Use mouldings to bring the eye upwards using all means possible.

 

Cove ceiling in my living room with moulding on the ceiling makes the ceiing height look taller - Make small rooms look bigger

my living room

We’ve been through this before.

Here is where you can see more ceiling mouldings.

For classical proportions with wall mouldings, please check out this post.

And perfect architectural proportions.

 

Another way to make a wall appear taller is to put the wainscoting a little lower than usual. And, also watch the scale of crown mouldings, especially. This post is all about wainscoting.

 

make use of corners

 

antichita marciana antique shopping venice italy vacation red chinoiserie cabinet fire hydrant

From my trip to Italy in 2016

 

But also corner cabinets in kitchens and corner desks, as well. We saw some terrific corner desks that can hold a lot of things like printers and extra monitors in last week’s post.

 

Use mirrors to expand the space.

 

Mirrors are wonderful to expand space AND light. In fact, if you put a mirror directly across from a window, it’s like having two windows.

 

Beautiful French dining room - Annie Brahler - photo: Bjorn Wallander - Make small rooms look bigger

Annie Brahler

photo: Bjorn Wallander

What an elegant home! You may notice that it looks like the entire right wall is mirrored. For more inspiration with mirrors, please go here.

 

Glass Doors and Glass Dividers between spaces and rooms

 

This post about windowless rooms also has some terrific ideas using mirrors, glass doors, and glass dividers between spaces.

 

pocket doors

 

via Casa Perfecta - frosted-glass-pocket-door

 via Casa Perfecta

 

Pocket doors are a terrific space-saving solution. I love this frosted glass, and behind it is a tiny office.

 

between the studs storage

 

This kitchen storage post shows some terrific wall storage and other fabulous space savers for kitchens.

And, one of my favorite posts is about small bathroom storage ideas.

 

double-duty storage

 

Chelsea-textiles-commode-Provence-Blue

 

For instance, you can use chests with drawers for night tables. The chest above is by Chelsea Textiles.
For some other terrific bedroom decorating ideas, go here.

 

Use all of the available space for storage – Go high!

 

Done and Done Home has a terrific Instagram account with lots of fantastic examples of making the most out of verticle storage. Please be sure to follow Ann and Kate!

 

via @doneanddonehome - terrific closet storage ideas

via @doneanddonehome – terrific closet storage ideas

Going high can also mean creating storage situations, especially in closets that make use of every bit of space.

 

via @doneanddonehome on Instagram - office storage

via @doneanddonehome on Instagram – office storage

 

loft beds

 

We saw a couple of loft beds in Wednesday’s post featuring some great ideas to maximize space in kids’ rooms. But, adults can have loft beds too. Actually, we saw one in this tiny house recently. (The article links to the loft bed).

Bob Vila did a post about loft beds. Quite frankly, some of these are pretty scary. I mean, unless there’s some sort of real staircase to get up there, who the hell wants to have to climb up and down a ladder in the middle of the night? I suppose you could bring a bedpan up there with you. Okay, fine. A chamber pot.

 

But, what happens if you’re sick?

 

And, what about breakfast in bed? Plus, if you can’t stand up in the loft, then it’s going to be pretty awful. So, you need a minimum 13-foot ceiling, unless you’re an NBA basketball player. Of course, if you don’t mind crawling around in your loft, I guess you can get away with a lower ceiling height. But, you really should have at least a 10-foot ceiling.

 

Stealing space from a closet or the next room.

 

Kaili-movbed_Canadian House & Home - hideaway trundle bed

I am fascinated by this pull-out bed. But, where does it go when it’s in the wall? Well, into the next space, of course. But, still, there needs to be space in the next space for the bed to go into.

 

Space-saving storage in kitchens and bathrooms

 

We looked at a lot of great ideas for small and hidden kitchens in this recent post.

 

storage in hidden or alternative places

 

under bed storage - Make small rooms look bigger

Via OKL

And, what better place than under the bed.

 

West Elm Andes Storage bed

West Elm’s Andes Storage bed is one of the best looking, I think I’ve ever seen. And, it is available in numerous fabrics and colors.

 

andes-deco-upholstered-storage-bed

 

Another idea for alternative storage places

 

Studio McGee round dining table

Studio McGee

 

Here’s an interesting situation. Let’s say that you have a dining room or dining area that’s 8′ x 8′. And, you don’t have room for any case pieces except for in the corners. But, maybe you have an empty wall just around the corner in the entry. You could put a buffet or server in that space.

The same holds true for office space; and, of course, clothing. Storage does not have to be in the room the items are used in. Of course, common sense tells us that if the items are used frequently, you will want them as close to where you need them as possible.

 

drapes hung high

 

Yep, we all definitely know that one, too. If you are lucky enough to have a high ceiling, even if the foot-print of the room is not so big, it will give a sense of space.

 

Fawn Gali - pretty living room - Make small rooms look bigger

Fawn Galli

Yes, it’s a gorgeous room. Great bones! But perfectly done. The upholstered furniture is just the right scale. The tall lamps look perfect because the ceiling is high. And, the large scale art adds the right amount of drama. And the light, but large plant adds a note of chic.

 

pieces that serve multi functions

 

Yeah, we already know that one. But it’s great to find creative ways to find extra space such as an office that can disappear when necessary.

 

Small white secretary tucked in a nook makes for a home office - Make small rooms look bigger

via OKL

I love offices that can vanish within minutes. Here, a beautiful vignette emphasizes the room’s height.

 

Room expanding ideas

 

paint the walls and ceiling one color

 

And remember the dark colors make a room look larger.

 

Gorgeous brown bedroom by Annie Brahler - Photo: Bjorn Wallander - Make small rooms look bigger

Annie Brahler

photo: Bjorn Wallander

I’ve long admired this bedroom with its chocolate-brown walls. But what is especially remarkable is that she took the color up on the ceiling too. Believe it or not, this is the bedroom of her teenaged (or he was then) son. Very sophisticated.

The darker paint will lift the ceiling up. Even a pale grayed down blue-green will make the ceiling appear to float higher. Here is a good post for ceiling colors.

The entire home is gorgeous! It’s the same one as the dining room at top with the mirrors.

 

large-scale art

 

William McLure - fabulous artist and designer - Make small rooms look bigger

William McLure

 

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a large piece of art can make a room feel far more expansive than a couple of dinky pieces. But if doing an art-wall, like the ones below, you can still cover the wall. I really hate it when the art feels too small for the wall or the composition feels too small.

 

furniture placement

 

Alex Reid and Cole Wilson

Oops. I see lots of black and blue toes.

 

Alex Reid and Cole Wilson

There! That’s better. Sometimes just turning things around can make a huge difference.

One of my favorite posts is this one that shares several winning living room layouts. (space planning)

 

Below, I’m sharing some mistakes not to be made in any room, whether it’s a big room or a small room.

 

Alex Reid and Cole Wilson - Make small rooms look bigger

Alex Reid and Cole Wilson

Just watch that the art isn’t butting up against the moulding. I would’ve put the bottom piece of art over the chair. I bet they saw that later too. Sometimes things show up in photos that don’t show up in real life, so much.

 

 

Uh oh… Great idea, but what happens when someone tries to come through the front door? lol

“Oh, sorry Aunt Edith, I hope you didn’t burn yourself on the tea that’s now sitting in your lap.”

 

This entry is lovely, and I love the Pembroke table. Alas, it’s a little too big for the space. Furniture should not overlap the door and window casings. Poor pooch looks like he needs to be fed.

 

Ari Hershey - Make small rooms look bigger

Ari Hershey

This entry is Goldi-Locks-ready-just-right. Everything in scale and even a little place to hang up a coat and put keys. This is a very tiny apartment!

 

One larger piece of furniture can be quite dramatic in a small room.

 

Jeanette Whitson - cool blue library - Make small rooms look bigger

Jeannette Whitson

Fabulous library in Farrow and Ball Hague Blue. The rest of the house is awesome too!

 

Monochromatic color scheme / avoid a lot of loud patterns.

 

Here’s a post all about monochromatic color schemes

 

legs on furniture instead of skirts give a lighter look

 

There are many examples already on this page.

 

Look beyond surfaces for solutions such as hanging up wall sconces instead of table lamps.

 

Elizabeth Bauer - attic bedroom - Make small rooms look bigger

Elizabeth Bauer

visual comfort sconces

Love these pivoting sconces from Visual Comfort.

 

It’s a great solution when the night tables are tiny. And here, we can see that they are the kind that doesn’t require a box in the wall.

 

Carve out spaces for sleep or work.

 

Make small rooms look bigger - charming girls

via OKL

I love the idea of having a little workspace between two beds. It would work out well, I think for a kid’s bedroom too.

 

veere-grenneybedroom-photo-david-oliverVeere Grenney bedroom-photo-David Oliver

 

Have to say that I think this is immensely charming. It would make a great kid’s bedroom. But another idea that came to me is what if there was a pocket door that could close off the bed and voila, it goes back to being the home office or library when guests aren’t staying over. There could even be a trundle-bed built-in. But, I do love the storage underneath.

 

Natori Home Built bookshelves pull-out desk - via Lonny

Natori Home Built bookshelves pull-out desk via Lonny.

 

And, finally. I love this idea above, for an instant workspace. Some version of this could work in many different spaces.

 

Do you have any great tips for small rooms? Please share! I’m sure that there are many more.

xo,

 

PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES – And especially the Pottery Barn WFH event. It took me about 20 minutes to figure at the WFH stands for Work From Home. haha, But, it’s a wonderful sale with all of their extensive and beautiful line of home office furnishings, bookcases, media cabinets, etc. And, all of their fabulous lighting as well.

 

333 Rules & Tips You Need To KnowAlso, if you need more help with figuring out the scale, measurements, and proportions, and much more, please check out my newest guide, 333 Hard to Find Decorating Rules & Tips You Need To Know.

 

 

 

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Carol - September 20, 2020 - 9:55 PM

    Hi Laurel I had to laugh about your comment on the picture with small table an a couple of chairs to close to the front door and Aunt Edith ends up with tea in her lap. Probably all the going back and forth trying to talk to her friend dodging the beautiful vase of flowers. Yes I know the stylist wants it to look beautiful of course. You see all the time. Great post !!ReplyCancel

  • Sheree L - September 15, 2020 - 1:36 PM

    Some good info in this post and in the comments. I need to follow your advice and pare down! Love the inspiration photos; I’m especially taken with the Fawn Galli and the Jeannette Whitson rooms. They are really speaking to me, and I could stare at them all day 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Monique Fredline - September 14, 2020 - 7:49 PM

    For the last few years, I have made my own fabric shower curtains (to put in front of a liner) or added onto store-bought. Good solution if people sew or can have it done for them.ReplyCancel

  • BARBARA ORLEMANSKI - September 14, 2020 - 3:59 PM

    Hi Laurel, I saw the bed above that you thought went through the wall to the other side. When we were in Florida at a Senior Fair we saw that same bed with a TV on the shelf and when you pull it out the mattress is actually 3 pieces and automatically lays flat when pulled out. So you lay down with your head at the foot board so you can watch TV. Nice if you need a guest room in your office.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 15, 2020 - 9:37 PM

      Oh, thanks for explaining how it works, Barbara! It’s very clever.ReplyCancel

  • Earlene Millier - September 14, 2020 - 1:04 PM

    I had an apartment that was basically one big room with a tiny kitchen and tiny bathroom. The big room had a Murphy bed on one wall. When the bed was up, the room looked much like any nice, roomy living room. If you have a tiny space, consider not devoting floor space permanently to a bed, which you really only use when you are not using the living room. By the way, the kitchen you show at the start of your article is about 3 times the size of my kitchen. If it’s planned correctly and pared down to the essentials, a small kitchen can be as nice to work in as a large one, and there is less to clean! Thanks for your great insights – I LOVE reading your posts.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - September 14, 2020 - 12:23 PM

    I love wallpaper next to the Natori bookcase. Do you know the manufacturer?ReplyCancel

  • Gail - September 14, 2020 - 1:34 AM

    I love the room with the bed cubby. I might be tempted to crawl in rather than working. I once had a tiny bedroom without a closet. I installed 12” deep bookcases and the type of hanging rods that are used in boutiques. They are perpendicular to the wall and angled down. They were great. I also installed narrow, three-tiered wall shelves instead of night stands. I painted the whole room including the ceiling dark green (it was the 90s). It was cozy and organized and I loved it.
    Every fall I pack my summer clothes away. Whatever wasn’t worn that summer goes to charity. Same in spring with my winter things. I make a little party out of it. Music on, glass of wine in hand. I have one 4 foot bar to hang my clothes, a 3 drawer dresser and a bookshelf for shoes etc. By limiting storage space I keep my wardrobe pared down and only keep what I love wearing.ReplyCancel

  • susie - September 13, 2020 - 2:17 PM

    I go with no headboard or footboard for the bed. I wonder when I see some of these beds (crammed into spaces, bunk beds, big trunks or benches at foot of bed), how are you supposed to make the bed? Today is my birthday, I treated myself to a new small lamp for my bedroom and mounted four dishes on my bedroom wall. (I love dishes)ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - September 13, 2020 - 1:26 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I have a tip to add. You mentioned hanging your drapes high. I like to apply that to shower curtains also. Having a floor to ceiling shower curtain really elevates the look of your bathroom.
    I realize long shower curtains can be hard to come by. Some websites do have them. But pre-made window treatments are readily available & they make great shower curtains. And there is always the option of sewing your own.
    Of course you’ll need to hang a long liner with them but you can find them on a lot of websites.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 14, 2020 - 12:34 PM

      Yes, I wish they’d make shower curtains with the rod hung high and a much longer curtain.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - September 13, 2020 - 12:08 PM

    yes, to the end of desks against walls. Mine is perpendicular to the double windows, so I get light from my left side. It gives the room a great look and lets me feel the outside and inside space around me.ReplyCancel

  • Maralee - September 13, 2020 - 12:07 PM

    In the picture about the entry table that overlaps the door casing, what if you moved the table a few feet down the wall, wouldn’t that solve the problem? I have struggled with this very problem in several places in my house.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 14, 2020 - 12:37 PM

      Yes, if the wall is long enough. It looks like there’s another doorway, however, right on the edge of the photo.ReplyCancel

  • Paula - September 13, 2020 - 7:29 AM

    Funny, although I have a lot of space, I’m always looking for ways to use it better, so this is a great article!

    One idea similar to the bed that slides out is a variant of the Murphy bed, called a cabinet bed. They can be free standing, so you don’t have to install them in a wall, and come in a lot of styles. Here’s an example: https://ontariocabinetbed.ca/products/cottage-cabinet-bed – includes a video of how to open. Just a thought for those severely constrained for space. I am looking at one of these for a guest sitting area, to provide some overflow sleeping space, so it can be used for that too.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 14, 2020 - 12:29 PM

      Well, isn’t that the coolest thing ever! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Betsey Francklyn - September 13, 2020 - 6:26 AM

    Dear Laurel,
    I’m going to take the mirror advice to another level. If you have a window in a corner, place a mirror adjacent to it on the adjoining wall! A full length with a table in front of it can be very wow. Talk about working your corners.
    Also? I see a lot of desks pushed up flat to the wall. Ugh. This must stop! Turn them 45 degrees placing the short edge against the wall and have that desk define the workspace. It is much more inviting to see the chair beckoning you to come and sit instead of floating there awkwardly! Why have your back to the room? Bonus if there is a window behind the chair, it provides lovely back light. Also? This way, the desk lamp can be shared by the adjacent seating area, and the edge of the desk can prop a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Double duty. So turn the desk and let the rest of the room serve as your office. It’s much prettier!ReplyCancel