Have you recently downsized and want to know how to make the most of a small space? Or are you already living in a smaller home and want to understand how to utilize the space you have even more?
My family and I recently downsized from a 130 SQM apartment to a 72 SQM home and at the same time added two large dogs into the mix. With that, we had to do a thorough job of making sure, that we are really making the most of the small space that we had at hand. Also considering that we at the same time changed our lives completely and started to work remotely as well.
I promise you, living in a small space is worth it, especially if you know why you might be downsizing or why you feel that you are choosing to live smaller. Our simple story is that with us downsizing meant that we took a step closer to reaching our dreams of living in a more meaningful area that encourages a simple and slower life that fuels our creative sides.
See some of my tips on how to make sure that you fit everything into your space and make the most of a small space. I used to share some of these as an interior design consultant, and some are added as I learned through our own, current, downsizing journey.
#1 List down what activities you would like to do in your home – how will your home be utilized?
Look into how you would like your home to be utilized; will you be doing yoga or training every morning and need a cleared away zone for this? Do you need an area where you can easily train your dog? Are you an advanced coffee drinker and would like an area dedicated for your perfectly brewed coffees? Or if you are like me, you would like your decor to suit your evening calming reading habits.
Whatever the activity or habit that you have is, plan this into your decor and layout, as it will guide you on what defined areas you may want to create.
#2 Carefully plan out the layout before picking your favorite items!
You will have the most success in making the most of your space, if you start with measuring your home, and planning out the dimensions of the furniture pieces that fit your space.
This will then be your design plan.
Trust me, take the time to do this, as it will have a big impact on your end result. It will help your home to feel visually proportional.
I am not going to lie, I am at fault for this as well – I might have seen a furniture piece I adore and truly just want, regardless if I know if it will be exactly the measurement I need or not. And usually, I will get disappointed in myself in the end, especially when space is limited.
So if you truly want to make the most of the space you have, measuring your space and then understanding the fundamentals of how much space you need between let’s say your kitchen table and the kitchen cabinets, will be key, before you go and purchase a too wide table.
I have a great book recommendation, that I own if you are interested. I have done a review of it here. This book will easily guide you through this.
#3 Light color palette
Selecting a lighter color palette will help your space to feel larger.
It will create a sense of brightness and freshness.
If you do play with light colors, you can still infuse some variety through the tones you use, as well as other decor elements textures.
#4 Keep the home cleared and clean – with daily chores
Making sure that your home is, as much as possible, cleared and clean all the time will help you to feel that there is less visual clutter.
This again, I believe is the same for all homes, but even more important in smaller homes. Where the walls might already at times feel like they are closing in on you. (Been there and felt that, depending on the day, it is either cozy or just feels cramped ;)).
What I am doing to combat this, since I live in a small space, is that I have set the following as a routine:
- One basket in each room with “stuff” that at the moment does not belong nowhere or that belong to another room (weekly I go through clearing these, putting the stuff back where they belong.)
- On my weekly planner whiteboard in the kitchen I have set a reminder of weekly habits which includes, not leaving dishes out, and running the dishwasher in the evening and clearing it in the morning as an example. These types of reminders and habits have slowly been growing into just a simple habit of doing, and that for sure helps my home feeling clean, and helps the overall feeling of it not looking like a mess.
#5 Create segmented organized bins and baskets for a clutter-free and easy maintained home
Create a system in each room with baskets (even behind closed doors) that are meant to be collecting specific things.
It will be so easy when you are in a hurry to remember exactly where all your traveling-related things are. Or where you put all the things relating to a beach outing or picnic outing in one place. It is also easier to keep up with putting everything back into these baskets, for example after a day at the beach.
#6 Let the light in
Just by not blocking windows and allowing light and also fresh air to enter your home, you will make your space automatically feel larger. If you are able to add more windows or larger windows, and not block each small room with a door, you are lucky. All this will help your space to feel larger than it actually is.
#7 Play around with mirrors and reflective surfaces
An old-school design trick is to add mirrors and reflective surfaces into a smaller home since these materials bounce the light off.
Placing mirrors in a small corridor, as an example will help to create a more welcoming and open feeling.
#8 Large scaled objects
A simple trick that is often used in smaller spaces and how to make them feel less visually cluttered is to decor with larger scaled pieces instead of small scattered ones.
As an example, instead of that messy creative art gallery wall, opt for a larger framed piece on your wall. And be content with that one large powerful piece. Make it shine in its simplistic way.
Are you still with me here? I am so inspired by this topic that I have too many ideas around this…
#9 Few but curated small trinkets
If you are still a fan of curated items on a shelf, then the best advice I have is to keep it as minimal as you can. And also try to not add too many curated different zones with smaller items in the same space.
Also keeping colors neutral as the picture here and, leaving free space around, will help this curated collection to not overpower the overall room.
#10 Floating furniture
Focus on adding floating furniture to leave more air on the floor instead of using heavy furniture on the floor.
As a side note, this is also a trick that is used in Feng Shui decor, as they believe the energy cannot flow if too much clutter is blocking the floor.
#11 Multi functional furniture
This must be my clear favorite and something I strongly stand by – incorporate as much multi-functional purposed furniture as you can think of. Okay maybe I am exaggerating here, but truly this will be your gem.
Adding stools into a space is a great example; we use these as side tables, coffee tables, extra seating for guests, bedside tables for our guest room when occupied, and at times as a plant stand. You can also think of incorporating a bed sofa and a kitchen bench with storage (that also acts as an extra zone for reading, chilling, etc). There is so much you can do. Use your creativity here!
#12 Use the height
When living small and when you are truly trying to fit in all your meaningful items, using the height for storage is your way to go.
Ideally, if you can wall mount a cabinet like this image, it would be even better as that would also create a more floating and airy feeling.
But all in all, this is a reminder to look up! Can you be creative with creating more storage on the height without making the space feel cramped?
Can you create storage above your door opening? Can you add taller kitchen units instead of the standard size?
#13 Closed storage instead of open shelving
Adding closed storage opportunities, more than open shelving will help your space to feel more put together and not so visually distracting.
(At times, it can even cost you less in the end to buy closed units instead of the open shelving system, storage boxes, decor, etc, but that is for another discussion topic).
While I say, to add closed storage units, of course, having one or two shelves in your home can help you to visually motivate you – and inspire you. You are able to daily see the items that you connect with and that at times even influences you in the right direction you wish your lifestyle to go. So of course, shelves are great!
Just be smart about it; add more closed storage options than open once, and the open once make them into focal points and truly inspire you with your meaningful objects on these shelves. Avoid having to use these to for example show the abundance of dog leashes you accumulated or to have to store those items that you feel annoyed by seeing but still need, as you do not want to replace them yet.
#14 Functional decor items
Try to limit the number of trinkets and decors you bring into a small space and instead decorate with functional items that you actually use.
Examples of this could be your coffee machine, creating a cute tiny little station around this, or instead of purchasing too many dried flowers, decor with herbs in a nice pot that you can also enjoy for your cooking.
#15 Incorporate white calm space
Don’t be scared to leave white space on your walls and around furniture. There is no need to decorate every inch of your space, and in fact, leaving white space is especially important when you are trying to make more space in a small home.
It will help your already furniture and decor pieces and the design place itself to take meaning and not feel like they are all crammed into one space and competing with each other. Air will flow between the objects and you will be calmer in the space.
One trick I use is, to remove at least 3 things from your design that you first wanted to incorporate. As probably that is already too much.
#16 Organization inside your cabinets
This has become such an important element of my own organization at home, make sure the inside of your cabinets is organized.
I want to open the cabinets and see as little visual clutter as possible.
Meaning that I will incorporate different baskets, trays, boxes, etc to have everything organized. I will keep a simple color code, of whites and beiges inside my cabinets so as not to feel overwhelmed.
#17 Embrace the homes current unique features
Work around your home’s unique features instead of trying to hide them. This will help you to create a unique feeling in your home while trying to add too much extra to it. If you have stunning windows, don’t block them. If you have stunning trimming, then highlight this.
That is it…
Hopefully, this article has helped you to gather a few tips around how to make the most of a small space.
Regardless of size, you can make it work. Enjoy the process! And revisit the “why” you are living in a smaller space for the first time. That helps us when we at times feel frustrated and think that we do not have enough space when in reality, we do and can make it work if we are smart about it. And usually what helps us is a reminder on why we downsized in the first place helps. 😊
I am Caroline, an ex interior design consultant, turned into a content creator, 30+ something Swedish born with an insane passion and interest for design, blogging, and living a meaningful and creative life. Design to me is about creating a (your) story – it is about understanding what matters and how to create something unique and meaningful which speaks and motivates you.