Good design is always very much a matter of personal opinion — but it's pretty inarguable that square footage can have a major impact on what is and isn't possible within a home. Sorry, the hyper-minimalist look isn't always achievable in a studio apartment with no closets. But any designer worth their salt has a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to designing for petite projects. We caught up with a few of our favorite (and heavily re-pinned) Decorist designers to ask them to spill their secrets for creating a high-design vibe with a low-impact footprint.
1. Look underfoot.
"Having a small space can be a challenge when there's not enough storage space," says Joshua Jones. "If you have a side table or console table that has open space underneath, don't waste it! Use fun baskets as additional storage. You can store the blankets, magazines, or toys inside the basket and place it under a table."
Get the look: 3R Studios Seagrass Basket with Handles, $36
2. Don't let your square footage limit your imagination.
"Go bold!" says Sarah Ramirez of Found + Collected Design. "Using fewer pieces that are larger scale creates the feeling that there's plenty of room. A large-scale painting, vintage-style arc lamp, or large leafy plant provide impact and visual landing spots throughout the room instead of the chaotic, cluttered feeling created by lots of small-scale pieces," she explains. "By going big, you create a look that feels full-size but not overstuffed, even in a small space."
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3. Focus on fixtures.
"Don't be afraid to add a funky light fixture to a small space," says Jones. "A chandelier or pendant light [don't] take up any of that precious square footage of your floor plan, but [they] can add incredible style to a room and elicit rave comments from your guests." (Sensing a pattern here? Look both low and high to maximize style without encroaching on floor space.)
4. Work with your walls.
By that same token, Ramirez suggests maximizing vertical space. "Look up for ways to tap into valuable real estate and have your walls do more. Shelves, cabinets, and racks come in every style and give you an opportunity for storage, and provide a home for your most precious items and decor. This is especially essential when space is limited — a place for everything and everything in its place!" she says.
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5. Don't be afraid of print and pattern.
"Add an accent wall or two," suggests Jones. "It will help balance the look of the small space, but also make it cozier and inviting. You can use either wallpaper or paint color to create an accent wall — go crazy with patterns or bold colors. Life is short. Let's have fun with it!"
Ramirez agrees, and takes it a step further, countering the age-old advice that says you can't use dark colors in a small space. "While white seems to be the obvious choice, going darker actually creates depth, making the space feel more intimate," she explains.
Get the look: Wallpapers for Beginners Dark Floral Peonies, $39.41
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.