Is your small space in desperate need of fresh home decor and design ideas to make the living room, bedroom, and dining area feel less snug. Do you need to increase the functionality in a tiny home or studio apartment?
The big thing to remember is no matter the square footage shortcomings, there are tricks and DIY techniques to make you feel less claustrophobic and more stress-free at home even if you're a renter. We recommend prioritizing storage space ideas and finding furniture pieces that pull double duty.
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Here's exactly how to make small space living work for you, whether you reside in a cozy apartment or a crowded house.
Design Ideas for Small Spaces
Even if you live in a tiny house, you don't have to settle for boring design ideas. You don't even have to stick to all-white or neutral paint colors, contrary to popular belief. In fact, the more vibrant your small space is, the less noticeable your limited square footage will be. We recommend leaning into color (we like inky green hues and moody blacks), throwing in a bold accent with wallpaper, and embracing the natural features in your space. If you have a stunning brick wall in your studio apartment, for example, let it be the star. Feel free to skip the gallery wall in favor of a more minimal look. And if you're a renter, this approach is even better because you can avoid using screws that will result in large holes.
In need of a few more renter-friendly design ideas? Embrace natural light if you're lucky enough to have it. That means don't put bulky furniture or bookcases in front of windows. And add mirrors to your entryway (even if that entryway is nothing more than a glorified wall). The reflective surface will bounce light around and make things feel more spacious.
Check out our guides on small space decor to learn more:
Small Living Rooms
If you have a small living room, fear not. You can increase functionality without sacrificing style simply by doing a few key things. First, be extremely intentional about your furniture. Look for pieces that pull double duty. Maybe that means grabbing a stylish bench that can be moved to multiple rooms in your home. Or perhaps you invest in comfy sectionals or loveseats that can transform into fold-out beds for guests. A coffee table that serves as a spot for impromptu dinners would also be perfect. Let your pieces work for you.
Even accents like curtains will be incredibly important in a tiny home and can transform your space. In particular, we prefer living room window treatments that are mounted as close to the ceiling as possible (to trick the eye into believing the ceilings are taller). And no matter the type you choose (linen, sheer gauze, or even a DIY option), make sure they complement the entire space.
You may even want to create multiple sections in your small living room, so using a couch or two open bookshelves to divide up various zones will create a cozy space with good feng shui. And if your square-footage is extremely low, these guides will help you transform your small living room in a flash:
A lot of the same principles apply to small bedrooms. But your design ideas should focus heavily on creating a zen space. Of course, functionality is still important (namely you don't want to lose floor space because you went with a king size bed when a queen would work just as well), especially if you're in a studio apartment. But focus on the smaller items in your sleeping quarters. We're talking super cozy bed linens that complement the wall colors and side tables (preferably with drawers to increase storage space) that have slim, space-saving profiles.
Bedroom lighting is another aspect that should demand attention in your small space. It is absolutely necessary to layer your fixtures if you want to create the perfect ambiance. Wall-mounted sconces on either side of your headboard in addition to a striking pendant light, and maybe even a minimal floor lamp, will set the mood. If you really want to level up, put all of your fixtures on dimmers. And renters don't worry — many landlords will allow you to change fixtures, even if they're hardwired, as long as you have professional help.
Whether you live in a tiny home or not, your food prep zone might not have all the floor space you'd prefer. With a little creativity, though, you can make any less-than-ideal cooking area (dated rental kitchens, we're looking at you), feel worthy of a pro chef. Start by evaluating the cosmetic features. Can you apply fun marble contact paper to your counters to give them a new lease on life? Will a DIY faux tile backsplash make old kitchen walls seem refreshed? And while you're at it, is it possible to switch the knobs and handles on the cabinets? This mini change can make things feel totally new, and it won't break the bank.
What else is at a premium in small kitchens? Storage space. Whether you need to corral all those spices, dried goods, and cookware — or your pots and pans are just out of control — additional shelving will help create order. Mount heavy duty wood planks to the wall for a fresh look, and style them up with your necessities. You could also grab a bookcase from IKEA (we like the Kolbjörn because there's open and closed storage), and DIY it to function as a small space pantry.
And when it comes to appliances, we like small but mighty options that can transform a studio apartment kitchen or one with a few more square feet. Try a small stove that doesn't lack any high-tech features and a refrigerator with more vertical space than horizontal.
If you're in the market for more decorative small kitchen touches, these guides will walk you through all the steps:
Small Space Dining Rooms
Separate dining rooms are a luxury in tiny houses, and nearly unheard of in studio apartments. So if you have one, count yourself lucky. But don't let the space go to waste — most people only use their dining tables for fancy dinners a few times a year, don't let that be you. Instead, turn your formal eating area into a multifunctional space that does double duty. It can function as a renter-friendly home office or even a workspace for crafts.
In order to get the most use from this spot, though, you'll have to plan the layout accordingly. Focus less on the square footage, and pay attention to details like how much natural light the dining room receives during the day. This will help determine where you should put the table that may serve as a desk from 9 to 5. And it can help you choose paint colors. A room with abundant sun rays can handle deeper tones, while a darker dining room with fewer windows might do better with lighter wall hues.
If small space living in your house means no dining room at all, try turning a cozy nook into the meal area. A durable rug (maybe an outdoor option that can stand to be vacuumed and cleaned) will separate the floor space. While a petite round table (like this DIY IKEA version) complete with a mini loveseat or two chairs will take any corner from bland to pretty and practical.
Here are a few more small dining room guides to get you started:
Even if you're able to dedicate an entire room or corner solely to your office, we still recommend that you get creative and pay attention to the layout. You don't need a multitude of accessories taking up valuable square footage. Think instead of how you can maximize wall space. Will floating shelves work instead of multiple filing cabinets? Can you mount a pegboard for important memos?
And while your desk and chair will likely be the focal points of your WFH zone, don't neglect wall decor and the way your space flows. The feng shui, in particular, is important. Try to enhance your natural light so you're motivated to work. And if possible, cut out all unnecessary clutter.
These guides will give you all the office inspo you need:
Small Space Storage Solutions
You can't reside in a tiny home, let alone be a renter, without clever hidden storage ideas geared for small space living. All that stuff you accumulate needs a designated spot whether it's in the bedroom, bathroom, or living room. We're particularly fond of a good DIY storage solution (a copper pipe clothing rack would be great if your studio apartment lacks a closet), and you don't have to be especially handy to make it work. You can, however, also go the more traditional route with cute wicker baskets and metal bins on open shelves.
Need more storage in your entryway, too? A pegboard will increase the area's functionality without decreasing floor space. And make sure to work every nook. Store out-of-season necessities under the bed, on shelves mounted above your doorways, and even behind the kitchen cabinets.
Because small space storage is just so important, we've compiled everything you need to know here:
What's one of the most coveted small spaces of all? The patio — or really any outdoor area, be it a petite balcony, backyard, or tiny stretch of concrete. And again, square footage doesn't matter as much as how creative you are with the zone. Be selective with the outdoor furniture. For example, get pieces that can withstand wind and rain. Then focus on making your patio feel cozy; add sturdy string lights, cushions, and even a weather-resistant rug (which will ground the space).
After incorporating textiles, bring in greenery. And don't forget storage for things like garden tools and that coveted mini grill.
These guides will help you answer any additional outdoor queries: