How to Master Small-Space Design, According to These Interior Gurus

Lauren Powell
by Lauren Powell

For us city-dwellers, it can sometimes feel like we’re actually living in a shoe box. And a small shoe box at that. We’re forever trying to maximise storage (whilst struggling to push shut our cupboard doors) and utilise every single square metre the best way that we can (real-life Tetris, anyone?). But, by using clever design that doesn't have to be a reality—think multipurpose furniture, genius storage solutions, and simple styling and you’ll be well on your way to living large. These tiny homes and these beautiful kitchens proof it. To help evolve your home from petite to penthouse, we spoke to four interior gurus who shared with us their clever secrets—scroll on, master small-space design, and turn that shoe box into a walk-in wardrobe.

Bethany James-Best, Founder, James Said


James Said

Opt for larger furniture

The biggest mistake people make with small spaces is using small furniture. Instead, opt for less pieces of larger furniture. The key is to make the space have as many clean lines as possible. Too many pieces of furniture make a space look chaotic. Also, opt for furniture that isn’t overly complicated in design.  

Less is more

Keep the colour palette limited. Just like with too many pieces of furniture, too many colours can do the same and make a small area look too busy. The same goes for accessories—less is more.

Add a mirror

Mirrors! Be brave—the larger the better. Mirrors will always give an illusion of more space. For artworks, hang them vertically to draw the eye to height of the room to make the space feel larger.

Robyn Connelly, Founder, Papaya

Keep to a neutral pallet

Neutrals play a big part in the feeling created in a small space by accentuating the space without overpowering it. Beige, grey, and French vanilla work well accented by crisp, bright white walls to enhance the feeling of space.

Keep the space uncluttered

Ensure your furniture is appropriately scaled to the size of the room. Steer away from clutter and knick-knacks. Use small side tables instead of big coffee tables which can eat the space. Being able to move around freely makes you feel less constricted and gives the feeling of space. A room should aim for simplicity, calm, and elegance.

Choose pieces with simple clean lines

A clean and timeless design will not date and works particularly well in designing small spaces. Emphasise clean lines and shapes, and steer away from overly decorated and busy patterns and shapes. You instantly create a functional space by choosing designs, styles and colours that are simple and classic.

Papaya Piccadilly Stool ($149)

Erica Fanning, Interior Designer, Erica Fanning Interiors

Go multifunctional

Keep individual furniture items to a minimum and where you can and invest in items that are either built-in or multifunctional. For example, if you choose to have a coffee table and don’t have the space to accommodate a dining table, select a coffee table that has ottomans or poufs that slide in underneath the coffee table.  Not only will this look great, it will also give you a casual dining solution for when entertaining guests.

Keep a consistent style

Try to keep a consistent decorating style throughout the space.  For example, if you love bohemian style which consists of quite a light palette layered with pattern and soft colour, try to select decorator and accent pieces that are in keeping with that style.

Use colour tricks

Think about using a neutral colour palatte, and when you would like to inject bold colour into the space, consider painting that colour on three walls.  The first wall will be in the living area, and the other two will lead into a hallway.  This tip can in fact trick the eye into thinking that the hallway is an extension of the living area, and therefor make the space look larger than it is.

Jeannett Højer Bessman, Designer, Lounge Lovers

Use mirrors and gallery walls

To make your room seem bigger, use mirrors and create a gallery wall. Start the gallery wall as low as possible and build up higher to make the room feel more spacious.

Make use of lighting

Allow as much natural sunlight into your home as you can. If this isn’t possible, use more floor and table lamps as the more light, the more spacious rooms will feel. Hang a large pendant, or clusters of pendants above your dining table or in a corner to get the right mood.  

Choose multifunctional products

Utilise your small living space by not overcrowding with too many items—rather, choose multifunctional products. Try an ottoman that can be transformed into a bed, a coffee table, or extra seating. And if you live in a one bedroom home or apartment, opt for a sofa bed so you can cater for visiting guests.

Lounge Lovers Holly 2 Seat Sofa Bed ($999)

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