7 Design Tricks for Small Spaces


For this post, you would think I would only ring the cow bell to New Yorkers and Europeans, however honestly these tricks can be applied even to a small room in a large home, for instance; laundry rooms, guest bedrooms and/or small bathrooms.

Since moving from a 4,000sqft home (~370m2) home in the USA, to a 1000sqft (~98m2) flat in France, which, by the way, is considered a big size apartment in France, creating space saving and design solutions for our apartment was paramount to maximizing our spaces. I can tell you Ikea became my go-to shop for most pieces. However, I will be sharing seven design tricks I used to optimize my square footage. In addition, one thing French apartments lack is storage, so I will also go over alternatives to create some or “increase” it as well.






It is one of the oldest tricks in the books and is utilized a lot in home staging because it creates an illusion of a larger room. One way is to face it towards a window, so it brings light to the opposite wall. All-in-all pay attention to what you are facing, so what reflects back is doubling the beauty in a room. In apartments, placing a tall mirror at the end of a dining table allows for it to feel you have a large dining space. When you have a narrow hallway, the side walls are a perfect place to also place tall mirrors, or a grid of mirrors especially if it is the hallway to your front door, so you can check your lipstick and attire before heading out the door. You can break it up by also bringing in round mirrors to add some softness to all the sharp corner edges in an area.  For Feng Shui, you would not face a mirror across from your front door though, it is said to reflect the good energy back out of the home. In kitchens, if you are NOT into Feng Shui, placing mirrors as backsplash does open up a narrow kitchen.

Photo Credit:  Elle Decor

Photo Credit: Elle Decor






Glass is a perfect solution to trick the eye to see more square footage, for obvious reasons, the transparency of the pieces allow you see through it and hence extend your field of vision. This is perfectly used in coffee/end tables and dining table tops. Another popular material is acrylic/Lucite, which has been seen in a dining/office chair known as the Ghost Chair, as well as, coffee & end tables. Let us not forget actual glassware in the kitchen or on a shelf - using stackable drinking glasses is also a space saver.

Source:  Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Photo Credit:  Homepolish

Photo Credit: Homepolish






Using the height in a room to maximize your storage is another great trick while creating a cozy decorative wall. Such as, wall shelving, stackable items, vertical hanging rod for pots pans and serving utensils. In addition, to free up counter real estate, purchase wooden cutting boards which can be hung on the wall. Opt for floor to ceilings bookcases, this expands the height of the room and beautifully creates more storage. Use the wall space even over the doors to create boxed shelving for cook books and more. Ikea has some great boxed shelving products to help with this solution.

Image Credit:  Pinterst

Image Credit: Pinterst






Having furniture act as two furniture pieces is paramount in small spaces. This trick is a space saver and a smart way to get two pieces of furniture in for the price of one.

A Few Examples:

Sofa + Bed | There are so many options for a sofa turn bed, so you do not have to always opt for the pull-out bed from the sofa. There is the daybed sofa turning into double size bed, as well as, newly improved futon sofa, which is no longer your college looking sofa. My personal favorite, and what I have is a sectional sofa turning into full/queen size bed. Best part is the ottoman section of the sofa is a storage unit as well.

Sofa Futon

Image Credit:  Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

Sectional Sofa

Table + Island | This is something I did in my own kitchen, I love my breakfast table which also acts an island: this almost doubles my counter space. I did a custom counter height table, however there are some great table selections you can put up against the wall as well.

Photo Credit:  Christina Rougerie

Photo Credit: Christina Rougerie

Nesting Table + Surface Tables | These tables are ideal in a small space, because they serve as an end table for a sofa or bed, and when guests come over you now have three counter surfaces for people to place their refreshments. When not entertaining one of them can act as a laptop table with the legs pulled underneath the sofa. Note: Just make sure the height is suitable to your sofa height when seating.

Open Furniture + Storage | When using furniture with four legs, this creates a open feel to any space, so chairs with no covers for instance. Coffee tables with four legs can have a basket tucked underneath it for extra storage. A console table can also have baskets tucked underneath; this adds texture to a space while acting as a catch all for toys, blankets and/or pillows. Pictured below, using an acrylic console table for this continues the openness in a space.

Image credit:    Pablo Enriquez   ) Via: ApartmentTherapy

Image credit: Pablo Enriquez) Via: ApartmentTherapy

Ottoman + Storage | Like the ottoman coffee table opt for pieces that has storage inside them, which again serves as extra single seating and like baskets, can be tucked underneath a console table when not being used.

Image Credit:    Urban Outfitters

Image Credit: Urban Outfitters

Coffee Table + Seating + Storage | There are ottoman coffee table options that can also be used as extra seating when guest come over. Typically, try to create a hard surface for day to day activity. Need more storage? Buy an ottoman that also serves as a storage unit inside.

Image Credit:    Liv Design Collective

Image Credit: Liv Design Collective






Area rugs are regularly used to define an area and can make a big impact on any room. To accomplish this for a small space, you want to purchase an oversized rug, which draws the eye outward to see the area being larger. If you have a tiny rug underneath the coffee table only, you draw the eye to a small pattern/color on the center of the floor, drawing attention to the limited space you have. Going for softer hues does make the room feel larger and stay away from rugs with borders, so you do not call attention to the size of the rug. Another great trick; use a stripped pattern rug to make the space feel larger. To make the space feel wider, opt for a horizontal stripe rug and to make the space feel longer opt for vertical stripes. This is why this trick is also used when tiling floors. I talk more about choosing the right area rugs for your space here

Photo Credit:  DecorAid

Photo Credit: DecorAid

Photo Credit:  Haley Weidenbaum

Photo Credit: Haley Weidenbaum






Most rentals allow you to paint while living in the apartment so if you have a choice here are color choices to make a room feel larger.

Light Colors: Yes, white would be the obvious choice however there are other options to choose from. If you do choose white walls, you can either choose a layer of soft hues for furnishings OR go with bold furniture pieces, this calls attention to the furniture and not the size of the room. You can also go for soft blue hues and greens. Any neutral color palette will make a room feel larger, so if you have a sun light room, you even have a bigger impact of bright and spacious feel.

Designer trick is to paint walls and trim the same color to make the height of the room seem taller. 

Photo Credit:  My Scandinavian Home

Photo Credit: My Scandinavian Home

Photo Credit:  Akin Design Studio

Photo Credit: Akin Design Studio

ABOVE: Fireplaces, windows and columns are natural architectural focal points; however, you can also create your focal point by painting an accent wall.

Phtot Credit: nicolamargaret / Getty Images

Phtot Credit: nicolamargaret / Getty Images

Dark Hues:  contrary to popular belief going dark creates depth in a room, so if you go dark go dark all the way using monochromatic scheme so the space appears larger. “the smaller the space, the darker the shade.”  It is the contrast from dark to light that makes a room feel smaller.  Best are deep blues and purples paint colors.





(Space saving Furniture)


If you are looking for an innovative furniture solution, look to the industry taking space-saving furniture design to a whole new level. First, let me go over the basic fold down/up space-saving tables which can be used. The small table which has a folding leaf can be set down/up when needed or a wall fastened table to be pulled down/up which can be used as kitchen tables, desks and dining table surface.

Image Credit:    Martha Stewart

Image Credit: Martha Stewart

Now moving on to the big players, here are the new wave of products referred to as transforming furniture, these product designs are made to literally save space in its entirety. This is a step up from having your sofa pull out to bed.

Let’s look: here is Ivy Design, I found, called Picture Table, so when hanging you have a picture/blackboard/mirror and when folded down you have the table.

Photo Credit:    IVY Design

Photo Credit: IVY Design

Via:   IVY Design

Want a shelf transform into a bed? No Prblem.

Want a sofa/built in transform into a bed? No Problem

Want a sofa transform into a bunk bed? No Probem!