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5 Tips That’ll Help You Make the Most of a Small Space

04.15.22 | By
5 Tips That’ll Help You Make the Most of a Small Space
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Fact: just because you’re short on space doesn’t mean you’re destined to a home that’s short on style. There’s a sea of design hacks out there claiming to help maximize the room you have and make even the tightest of spaces feel open and comfortable. But to save you the hassle of navigating the (sometimes treacherous) world of small space DIYs on your own, we narrowed it down to our top 5 tips that’ll help you make the most of small spaces. For more modern finds fit for small spaces, head to the Design Milk Shop!

1. Less is More

A golden rule in most cases but especially when furnishing a small space, cutting down the number of items you put in a room is a simple way to make the most of small spaces. “Having less furniture will help you,” advises interior stylist, STYLED author Emily Henderson (@em_henderson), “A common mistake is to fill up a small room with a small sofa, a small chair, another small chair, and sometimes all of that will actually end up making the room look smaller because it’s busier.” Instead, Henderson suggests keeping the contrast to a minimum by bringing less furniture into the space. Take the less is more mentality into your home accents and decor too. “Small spaces can get cluttered so easily. I’ve made peace with knowing that I can’t buy or keep everything I like,” says KC Cibran, a home decor enthusiast whose journey to decorate her NYC apartment has gone viral on TikTok. To keep messes at bay, make a habit of decluttering your space. Reassess the items you have, keep what you love and donate or resell the rest. “Surrounding yourself with pieces that you really love will make your home feel even more special,” says Cibran.

open spaces basket

Medium Storage Baskets by Open Spaces
When it comes time to declutter, you’ll want these wire storage baskets by Open Spaces on deck. The wired, open design makes it easy to find the items you’ve got inside, and their range of soft, modern colorways instantly spruce up any space in the house. From organizing toiletries and linens in the bathroom to storing pantry items and gadgets in the kitchen, you’ll find there’s no shortage of ways to use these stylish storage baskets.

$72
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catch all tray

Maple Nocturn Catch-all by Craighill
To avoid overloading your space with tons of small, decorative items, try using a catch-all dish to display your most near and dear objects. Not only does the Nocturn’s satin maple finish make for a stunning backdrop for your most coveted possessions, but it also has subtle compartments that help bring order and tidiness to any home surface. Use it as a home base for your daily essentials or treat it like a curated display of your favorite things to make a personal visual statement.

$88
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2. Think Vertically

kc cibran home

Photo: KC Cibran

When floor space is lacking, the more furnishings you can bring off the ground, the better. “If every piece is on the floor, then it can quickly make the space feel cluttered,” says Henderson, “I prefer to mix it up by having the larger pieces be raised off the ground to make them feel less visually heavy.” Opting for a couch with legs, for example, instead of one with a solid base that touches the floor, can combat that heavy, crowded look, and make a small space feel more open. Dani Klaric, an interior decorator who documents her design adventures on TikTok, seconds this – “Take up the least floor space possible,” says Klaric. “Having everything that’s not furniture hung up and mounted on a wall is a very easy and important hack,” she shares, “For example, install wall sconces instead of a floor lamp, or add floating shelves instead of a bookcase.” And for my fellow renters out there, making the most of your small space is well worth the command strips and spackle – trust me.

cloudnola rack

Hook Me Up 3 Wood Coat Rack by Cloudnola
A longtime community favorite, this multipurpose wall rack by Cloudnola can be used to keep coats, scarves, bags, and other must-haves off the ground and off your furniture. Complete with 3 wooden pegs and 3 fashionable, leather looped straps, the Hook Me Up Rack is functionally designed to accommodate all of your favorite accessories.

$45
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tom dixon light

Opal 25 Surface by Tom Dixon
Instead of floor and table lamps that can eat up valuable real estate and crowd smaller surface areas, look to a wall mounted light fixture like Tom Dixon’s Opal 25 Surface Light. The wall light’s elegant orb shape effortlessly modernizes a room, and the matte, translucent finish drapes your space in soft, diffused light. We love that the wall fixture’s minimalist, timeless design won’t ever go out of style.

$590
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bendo wall hook

Clip Wall Hook by BENDO
For a fun and playful wall storage solution, these over-sized, wall-mounted paper clip hooks by BENDO do the trick. “I hung two of the hooks on top of my office desk so I can hang anything I need in the moment like my cameras or the purse I’m using that day,” shares Dani, “I also discovered that they hold almost anything – from magazines and vinyl to a tennis racket and a long board – which is so cool! Art that’s functional is a must have in my home.” Check out Dani’s TikTok to see the clips in action!

$55 each
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@design_milk Watch @dani klaric style Bendo’s CLIP Wall Hook her way! Order yours on Design Milk 📎 #repost #interiordesign #interiorinspo ♬ Silly Love Songs – Paul McCartney & Wings

3. Move Towards Mirrors

Mirrors are invaluable for creating the illusion of more space and depth where it might be lacking for a more open look and feel. “They’re a great way to make your space appear bigger while also reflecting light to brighten the room,” says interior designer and TikTok content creator Colleen O’Toole, “they’re practical, add a nice touch, and will never go out of style.” Because this design hack is so tried and true, there are plenty of ways to incorporate it in your space. Use mirrors to open up a small bathroom, add depth to a cramped entryway, or maximize light in a dark living room. Whether you go over-sized, tinted, or use multiple to create an eye-catching DIY wall display, mirrors are well worth the wall space.

shelfie mirror

Shelfie Mirror by MARdiROS
The modern design of the MARdiROS Shelfie Mirror works double duty — functioning as a wall shelf and a mirror to save space in more ways than one. Hang it in your entryway, bedroom, or bathroom to help give the appearance of more space and keep home surfaces clear of clutter by storing skincare, makeup, and other essentials on the powder-coated steel shelf. Factor in the multifunctional design and its clean, minimalist aesthetic, and you’ve got a modern mirror that’s worth the price tag.

$435
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gold mosaic mirror

Gold Mosaic Round Mirror XL by Cloudnola
The Mosaic Round Mirror’s unique, geometric design delivers on depth, color, and a modern aesthetic that’s guaranteed to elevate any room you put it in. Not only is the XL size perfect for getting ready or last looks before you leave the house, the blue and gold tinted glass brings visual appeal to your walls, making it a piece of functional wall art. Cloudnola also makes this one in smaller sizes that allow you to mix and match for a look that’s entirely your own!

$155
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4. Make Every Piece Count

To piggyback off of our less-is-more tip, Decorist designer Lauren Nelson suggests being extra thoughtful about function, and what objects can be left out, “do you really need a coffee table, or can a side table suffice? Choose pieces that double up on functionality,” says Nelson. To make every piece count, go for furniture pieces that pull their weight in your small space, like a dining table that doubles as a desk, or a side table that can be used as a main coffee table or additional seating if you need. “Brainstorm ways to align form with function, having a utilitarian mindset,” recommends interior designer Kristin Hildebrand (@kh.interiors), whose modern SoCal interiors are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Once you’ve landed on those key, multifunctional items that you use most often, Hildebrand advises to create layers to build the warmth, “Small spaces have a head start on feeling warm and cozy, you got this!”

entryway rack

Entryway Rack by Open Spaces
This Instagram-able Entryway Rack is a winner for small spaces. The modern, cool design comes in a range of colors that complement nearly any decor style and it boasts a number of functions beyond your entryway or closet. Use it in your home office to store supplies, books, and documents, in a playroom for toys, in your living space to show off your favorite things or turn it sideways and use it as a side table and storage solution in one.

$180
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5. Break up with White + Embrace Key Colors

small bathroom

Photo: Gramercy Pre-War Apartment Combination by Sarah Jeffrey’s Architecture + Interiors

DC-based interior designer Imani, of Imani at Home, cautions against limiting yourself to white walls to make a small space feel larger: “It doesn’t feel bigger, it just looks boring. Instead, upgrade your apartment with amazing wallpapers & bold paint colors that make it look interesting!” When it comes to picking the right colors and finishings, “Limit the design to three materials/colors within one space, so it feels serene and expansive, and not overcrowded and cluttered,” says Sarah Jeffreys, founder, and principal designer of Sarah Jeffrey’s Architecture + Interiors. Once you’ve settled on your color and material palette, Jeffreys recommends using them on the full length and width of the walls for a more open look and feel – a tip that’s especially handy for small bathrooms. “Floor-to-ceiling tile or wallcoverings are a great design strategy,” says Jeffreys, positing that they make a small space appear continuous.

hygge and west wallpaper

Bruno Wallpaper by Hygge & West
If you’re going to lean into full scale wallcoverings, you might as well have fun with it. The Bruno Wallpaper pattern by Hygge & West pulls inspiration from the mesmerizing, tiled floor in Lisbon’s Rossio Square to bring modern movement and whimsy to your walls. Screen printed by hand onto coated paper, the wallpaper’s luxe, fade-resistant finish is a fit for any small space in need of personality.

$75+
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hygge west wallpaper

Bloom Wallpaper by Hygge & West
Designed in collaboration with Emily Isabella, this chic wallpaper is the perfect marriage of two timeless prints: polka dots and florals. A simple yet impactful design that turns polka dots into blooms atop minimal stems and leaves, this refreshing take on classic floral wallpaper designs instantly brightens up the room – and it comes in a variety of colorways too!

$225
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Show us how you put our small space tips into practice! Tag us @designmilk to be reposted on our Instagram!
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Alexa is commerce editor at Design Milk. She lives in Miami, Florida with her fiancé Alex and retired greyhound, Phoebe. A longtime art and design enthusiast, Alexa’s first stops in any new city are the art museums. When she’s not writing about her favorite DM shop picks, she might be buried in a book, binging reality tv or adventuring around her city with her partner and pup.