Big Ideas For Small Spaces


Author – Lucy Feagins, The Design Files

Over the past twelve months, our homes have been working harder than ever. The challenges of working from home, and homeschooling have highlighted a need for functional, versatile and streamlined spaces. Optimisation is the name of the game - but achieving this can be challenging in a small space.

Consider the following tips to maximise every inch of a small space – and don’t worry, no matter how small your home, functionality does not need to come at the expense of aesthetics!


Photo: Caitlin Mills

Styling a Small Space

You don’t need to be a minimalist just because your space is small! Treasured objects and collections can still be displayed – they just need to be considered.

Utilising wall space (rather than floor space) is the golden rule. A wall of art is a great addition to a small space, providing an eclectic focal point without taking up precious floor or storage space. Think of creative ways to display items that make the most of your wall space - hooks and wall-mounted shelves provide endless options.

Aside from art and decorative objects, you can also hang functional items such as brooms and baskets on the wall – an under-utilised hallway is a great place for this sort of storage-on-display. The key is to organise these items in a neat, orderly way.

Annie Portelli3_Photo-by-CaitlinMills.jpg

Photo: Caitlin Mills

Tailor-made furniture

In small spaces, functional, tailor-made furniture is often the best solution to maximise space and increase storage.

Aside from in-built shelving, one key option to consider is custom made banquette seating - ie, a built-in couch! Building in a joinery unit that can incorporate some seating, as well as adding additional storage, is a seamless way to get more from a minimal footprint.

Customisation like this is a great way to make the most of a small room. And whilst a 'permanent' seating solution may be nerve-wracking for some, this approach will ensure your all-important floor space is maximised.

It's also worth integrating dual-purpose features into a small space whenever possible. For instance, a dining table or breakfast bench that seamlessly doubles as a desk (hello integrated powerpoints!), or seating that can easily extend to accommodate overnight guests.

Annie Portelli2_Photo-by-CaitlinMills.jpg

Photo: Caitlin Mills

Get in The Zone

In a small apartment, having distinct ‘zones’ is a gamechanger. Even if the dining and living area is open plan, think of ways to delineate each zone, to great the illusion of 'rooms within a room'.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to invest in a rug - place it under a coffee table, and you instantly have a living room. For studio apartment dwellers, the same goes for your sleeping quarters - delineate the sleeping zone from living and working zones, with a tactile rug under the bed. When you kick off your shoes in the evening and feel that textural rug underfoot, you know you’re in the sleep zone!


Photo: Caitlin Mills

Working from home in a small space

Many of us have become quite accustomed to working from home over the past year, but in small spaces, this can be especially challenging. It’s very easy to feel like you’re working where you sleep, so again, initiating some clear ‘zones’ is always helpful.

If you have a spare room, try your best to work there during work hours, and when you clock off, shut the door.

Annie Portelli4_Photo-by-CaitlinMills.jpg

Photo: Caitlin Mills

If your dinner table has become your desk, clear it in the morning when you start work and remove your work station from the table when you finish. A simple gesture, such as throwing a tablecloth on the table for dinner can do wonders to change up the mood, and help you forget that you just spent 8 hours sitting at the same table!

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