If you haven’t experienced small-space living, you haven’t lived. Living small is an opportunity to eschew excess, be mindful of what you surround yourself with, get smart about organization, and celebrate the things you truly love. Yes, a sprawling country estate might be at the top of your Pinterest dream board, but there’s no reason your petite quarters can’t be a place you love to call home.
Some people go ultra-minimalist to give their small space a loftier, less cluttered feeling. Some embrace the little things but use large furniture pieces to anchor rooms. And others home in on a narrow color palette to provide a more restrained look. No matter what your style is, no matter how small the footprint of your shoebox, there are plenty of small-space tricks to put into action.
Take a look below at a few of our favorite little homes, and learn a few tips while you’re at it.
Heather Clawson’s Chic Upper East Side Pad
Heather Clawson, the brains behind beloved blog Habitually Chic, describes her style as “unabashedly uptown.” Her Upper East Side apartment is decidedly so; it’s definitively traditional, filled with antiques, and brimming with art. Moreover, it’s beautifully collected. Elegant art books are stacked on nearly every surface. Where there is a wall, it is a gallery wall. Where there is a tabletop, there is an artfully styled vignette—collections of Wedgwood, jars of antique silver flatware, decorative coral accents. And there’s a cozy sofa to curl up on.
Small-space ideas to steal: Showcase things you love. Never sacrifice comfort. Arrange your collectibles neatly.
Whitney Leigh Morris’s Tiny Canal Cottage
When it comes to inventive small-space hacks, creative director Whitney Leigh Morris, who lives in a 362-square-foot cottage on the Venice Beach canals, is a master. The tagline of her blog, The Tiny Canal Cottage, sums it up: “You don’t have to ‘live large’ to live beautifully.” What works best for her small space are layers of white and off-white in a variety of subtle patterns. The monochromatic palette keeps the little home from feeling visually cluttered. She has gone to great lengths to maximize storage—including using the space under the sofa to stash shoes and photo equipment. Whenever possible, her furniture is multipurpose; for instance, when she entertains, her outdoor bistro tables are used as a dinner table and the sofa area becomes banquette seating.
Small-space ideas to steal: Keep your color palette simple. Buy multifunctional furniture. Turn dead space into storage.
A Former One Kings Lane Staffer’s Charming Studio
As is the case for most people who live in studio apartments, the primary challenge for former One Kings Lane staffer Ari Hershey in decorating her New York studio was creating a separation between the living and sleeping areas. With the help of OKL head stylist Anthony Santelli, Hershey painted the lower portion of the walls in her sleeping area a dark color to make the space distinct. She chose furniture with a petite footprint for those less-often-used pieces like side tables and side chairs and a more spacious design for her sofa that is both comfortable and inviting.
Small-space ideas to steal: Use paint as a visual divider. Opt for large-scale furnishings where it counts. Look to wall hooks and magnetic boards for additional storage.
Stacy Twilley’s Manhattan Pied-à-Terre
Fashion designer Stacy Twilley is based in Los Angeles but maintains a studio apartment in Manhattan as a pied-à-terre and a casual place to meet with buyers. As a result, she doesn’t have the same storage requirements as many other studio dwellers do. However, she still relied on a few small-space tricks to make her studio appear larger than it is. First and foremost, her palette of grays, whites, and blacks is unfussy and clean. Layers of pattern add interest without taking up room. And petite accents like boxes and ginger jars add decoration that doubles as storage.
Small-space ideas to steal: Stick to a few shades of one color. Rely on textiles rather than accents for visual interest. Use catchalls as stylish storage.
Stacie Flinner’s Traditional S.F. One-Bedroom
A consummate entertainer, San Francisco-based decorator Stacie Flinner selected furniture that is lightweight, easy to move, and multipurpose for her one-bedroom apartment near Alamo Square Park. When she hosts a big dinner party, her bedroom desk becomes a dinner table, her living room pedestal table becomes a buffet or an extra table, and all manner of seats—a bench, side chairs, and garden stools—are shuffled around to be used as seating for guests. In her kitchen, she’s turned dead space into maximum storage with the addition of baskets tucked under a bench and above her cabinets. The woman has left no stone unturned.
Small-space ideas to steal: Have a strategy before you move in. Stock up on garden stools and lightweight seats. Don’t be afraid to rearrange when entertaining.