7 Tips for Furnishing Small Spaces (and making them look really good!)

If the place you live in requires creative use of space, you’ll be happy to know this doesn’t mean compromising on quality and style. This list of small space design ideas will make you feel like you’re living large.

Bigger is not always better. Small spaces are easier to keep clean and organized. They’re also a lot of fun to decorate and furnish because they force ingenuity and creativity.

The appeal of living small, from studios to stand alone houses, has been alluring dwellers for centuries. Houses like the shotgun-style, first introduced to New Orleans during the mid-1800s, are charming for their tiny home appeal. Often no more than 12 feet wide with flat roofs, rooms are stacked one behind the other forcing occupants to use space cleverly. While these homes were most popular in the South, variations of their style can be found in everything from railroad apartments to ranch homes.

There are plenty of advantages to working with tight spaces - whether it’s just a room or your entire living space. You’ll be able to easily show off your personal style with limited real estate as well as live more sustainably, both environmentally and financially.

Read on for 7 of our favorite tips for furnishing your small space!

1) Keep your space decluttered.

You may think this is a no-brainer, but it’s tempting to try and fit in as much as possible even if space doesn’t allow for it. The good news is that if your place feels too cramped, the stuff that is no longer useful to you will stand out making it easier to purge. You’ll be left with only things that are helpful and valuable - or what William Morris famously said -

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

Wood side table

A little trick to keep things less cluttered is to furnish with floating pieces - shelves, nightstands, end and side tables. The floor remains clear of obstacles and the floating pieces provide extra storage. If you can see the ground, the room will look larger.


2) Start with the floor.

If you’re going to use a rug, this is one area where bigger is definitely better. A small rug will only shrink the space. Find a rug that fits underneath most of your furniture or opt for one that goes wall-to-wall. You can also do bare floors.

Chairs on rug

And speaking of bare floors, another trick to visually enlarging your space is to keep the same flooring throughout. Different shades and materials beneath the feet will break things up and make the space feel smaller than it already is.

3) Choose small or compact furniture.

Small spaces love small pieces. Just be sure not to overdo it or all those small pieces will multiply and look like chaos. Think streamlined versus ornate and compact versus overstuffed. Choose furniture with exposed legs to give the illusion of more floor space and avoid anything too boxy.

Having a small space doesn’t mean you have to go ultra-modern to make it look clean. At Modern Bungalow, we carry small-scale furniture like the Shenandoah Collection that shows off a classic look and is infinitely customizable to fit with whatever decor you already have from shaker to modern. Go with maple and a light finish to keep things airy, or pick a select few pieces in oak or cherry with a darker finish to ground the space.

You can also furnish with space-saving items like the Geno chair, an extra-small space saver coffee table, or a small writing desk that are the perfect solution to limited storage space each at just 24 inches wide. All of these pieces are designed with small spaces in mind.

4) Use multi-purpose furniture.

Furniture that serves more than one function is your best friend when it comes to limited space.

Think beds with built-in storage so that you don’t have to have a separate chest or dresser. You can even buy under bed storage units that take the place of bedroom chests. Another option is a Murphy or wall bed that only takes up space when needed. And because small spaces likely don’t have a separate Plank Bed with Footboard Storageguest bedroom, sofa beds are an excellent solution - especially ones that are well made, comfortable and come as small as a twin sleeper loveseat.

There are also entry benches with hidden storage to help declutter a small living area and provide impromptu seating. Don’t forget sofa tables that can double as dining tables or desks.

Convertible Sofa/Dining Table

And even if you aren’t necessarily in need of multi-purpose furniture because you have the room, the current trend in downsizing makes the desire to own one of these stylish furniture solutions worth your while.

5) Install lighting designed for small spaces.

Rooms look larger if they are well-lit. The trick is to not make a light the focal point, overpowering the rest of the room. If you’re already doing what you can to let in as much natural light as possible by using sheer curtains and keeping windows clear of obstructions, add to the brightness by using flush mount or recessed lighting. By not demanding attention, it’ll make the ceiling feel higher.

Craftsman 2 light ceiling fixture

We love this Bungalow light for an entryway or this one from our schoolhouse collection to maintain a bright, open feel.

You can also use appropriately placed table lamps as well as wall sconces. One table lamp is often good, but more than that can make the space feel cramped. You’ll know.

6) Make use of soft, light colors.

Dark walls, heavy drapes and contrasting wall and furniture colors will make a small space even smaller. Instead, create a sense of openness by using a pale color palette like warm whites, pale grays or light pastels on the walls. Light, cool colors like blues and greens also work well to keep the space open.

A monochromatic color scheme, with colors in the same family, works best. By matching the furniture to the colors already in the room, the two will blend giving the illusion of a bigger room. Cohesiveness is the key with small spaces - choose one color scheme for the room and everything in it.

7) Appreciate a more minimalist lifestyle.

Living more simply, with less stuff, is one way to reduce stress. If you’re living in a smaller space, you may already be familiar with minimalism knowing that your space requires it. Do you also know that minimalism is joy-inducing, peaceful and tranquil? Now that sounds like something we could all use!

Photo by Jeroen Bendeler on Unsplash

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