Interior Design Tips for Decorating Small Spaces, Studio Apartments & Tiny Homes

One of my dearest friend’s daughter’s (whom I’ve known since she was a little girl) is now all grown-up and purchasing a home of her own—an adorable Cape Cod- meticulously maintained, just perfect for her. The only flaw is that the living room—where she’ll want to entertain family and friends—is tiny, measuring just under 200 square feet. As we discussed her design dilemma, I thought I‘d share some tips to consider when furnishing a small space.

Small Space Furniture: Beds, Desks and More

There are several companies that offer smaller scale furniture specifically for city dwellers. Although still comfy, their depth and width are scaled so that they’ll work in the smallest of rooms (and fit in the freight elevator).

For sleeping accommodations in a studio or small apartment, consider a Murphy bed or sleeper sofa (basically, a bed that disappears when you’re awake). A loft bed gives you the option of having seating or a desk beneath, much like in a college dorm. Platform beds are another option for smaller-scale bedrooms. Check out this one below that I found for a client. The nightstands are built in and the drawers are beneath the bed.

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Less Is More with Multitasking Furniture

Get furniture that multitasks. I found a sleek, contemporary coffee table that has a refrigerator drawer, Bluetooth speakers, LED lighting and USB charging ports built in. If you don’t need to chill your wine in your living room, you can always opt for a storage ottoman. Not only can you store linens and toys, they are perfect for extra seating. Alternatively, you can put a tray on top of an ottoman and make it coffee table.

If you have a tiny foyer, or no foyer at all, you’ll still want to have some storage for keys, shoes and the like. A slim console with a few drawers and some baskets beneath can help better define the space.

The Right Lighting: a Bright Idea for Illuminating Small Spaces

When it comes to lighting, look for lights that swivel and bend, so that you can shine the light in multiple directions. Swing arm lamps are perfect when nightstands are too tiny or nonexistent. That same swing arm lamp can also be a reading lamp for an adjacent chair. Floor lamps can be task lighting when turned down, but they can also cast lovely illumination when turned to face the ceiling. And if your ceilings are low, semi-flush mount chandeliers can be just as glamorous as their hanging counterparts.

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Using Decor to Make a Space Seem Larger with Visual Tricks

Once you’ve got the furniture and lighting selected, other decorative elements can help visually enlarge the space. Consider raising the eye up by hanging drapery or Roman shades just below the ceiling or crown molding. You could even hang a shelf around the perimeter of the room, just above the door molding. Decorate it with baskets (filled with things you don’t use frequently) and books.

Hang a mirror opposite a window to reflect the natural light and create spatial depth. Keep the color palette neutral; minimizing contrast will also give the appearance of a larger space.

Open shelving in a tiny kitchen gives you storage without the bulkiness of upper cabinets. And Cabidor (pictured left) is a cool product I found for a client who had very limited storage space. It adds substantial storage to that wasted space behind your door!

If you’ve got some small space design dilemma’s, give me a call. I’d love to help you make the most of your space!

Debi Pinelli