How to Design Small Spaces Like a Pro

The Homely Team
lounge with minimal colour palette including plants, grey rug and orange occasional chair
4 min read

Whether you’re renting or in your first home, one of the most common issues in any home is making the best use of space. From apartment-living to terrace houses, a lot of us struggle with making our smaller spaces work when it comes to interior design and furniture. It’s important to have a sofa you can properly relax on, but equally you don’t want it to take up the entire lounge. So how can you compromise? We’ve gathered top tips from some of the most stylish when it comes to styling small spaces. 

room with white walls and wooden floors rattan chair and plant on floor with floating wooden shelves on wall

Clear the floors

Something that can add to the feeling of a cluttered a space is not having enough space to walk around. Winding your way around chair legs, ottomans, piles of books or bags is a sure way to feel cramped.

So, while you can’t increase your actual floorspace, what you can do is clear what floor space you do have. Simple furniture swaps like floating shelves instead of TV units and bedside tables create the illusion of extra floor space. Other hacks include opting for wall-mounted lights rather than floor lamps as well as mounting your TV to the wall to give you the option of a smaller unit underneath. 


minimalist style bedroom with dark bedding line art and wall mounted lamp

Out of sight, out of mind

When you have the space, open shelving can look stunning. But, when you don’t have the space, things can become messy-looking really fast. To give the illusion of neatness (and calm), choose furniture and storage pieces that can close or fold. Think foldable writing desks, storage units with cupboard doors rather than open shelves, and kitchen storage that lets you close away the clutter for the illusion of a clear bench. In trickier spaces, if you have the budget, customised storage solutions can make a world of difference. You’ll be able to really get clever with ‘shutting things away’ and make sure no space is wasted. 

modern kitchen with white cupboards and benchtop wooden breakfast bar and white faucets

Let there be light! 

Lighting is such an important component of how a room or overall home feels. Different lighting can make spaces feel open, or cosy, or dark and cramped. Ways to maximise on light are using mirrors to throw more of whatever natural light you have available, plus making use of lamps around the room to create atmosphere and soft light throughout. Mirrors also work to expand the sense of space in the room – large floor-length mirrors are great for leaning against any clear wall, but you can also use wall-mounted mirrors in smaller corridors to the same effect. 

hanging feature light with round globes throwing warm light white walled room with sheer curtains and natural light floor length mirror reflecting light entranceway to house with big round mirror and bench seat underneath

Look up! Take advantage of vertical space

In small spaces, your best friend is vertical space when it comes to storage solutions and decluttering. From customisable IKEA solutions through to custom-built cupboards, to funky hanging bike racks and floor-to-ceiling bookcases, using some of that space that’s out of reach for things you don’t need to grab on the daily will help you make the most of your space. Getting on a stepping stool once a week is better than tripping over something every day!

 bedroom with workspace and shelves built into wall

Colour palette cohesion

Help avoid that cluttered feeling by sticking to a colour palette. Remember, this doesn’t mean you have to go for total monochrome in black, white and beige.There are plenty of ways to incorporate colours and your personal design style without giving your spaces a cluttered feel. It’s just about being a little more purposeful and selective with colours and finishes.

The best thing you can do is get inspired. Browse through Pinterest and even ‘for sale’ listings on Homely to see what design styles speak to you and what colour palettes you could try. Homes for sale are often professionally styled – so you know that what you’re seeing in a ‘for sale’ listing is approved by the professionals.

kitchen with dark green cabinetry lounge with minimal colour palette including plants, grey rug and orange occasional chair

Size does in fact matter

Just because the room is small, doesn’t mean the furniture has to be uncomfortably small. The pain of a couch that doesn’t quite accommodate a Sunday afternoon nap can be truly unbearable. So, go for regular-sized pieces, but less of them. Having a great couch or comfy chair will make you want to spend time there and enjoy the space more. 

lounge with grey couch and ottoman coffee tables

Need some styling inspiration? Take a look at Homely ‘for sale’ listings and ‘sold’ listings to see how the pros do it! You can even start your own Homely Collection for design inspo and save any listings you like to the collection to keep it all in one place. 

Tweet us your best design space saving idea, or tag us on Instagram, and if it’s cool we will feature it on @homelyau’s socials.

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The Homely Team
The Homely Team bring you the latest in Aus property ranging from tips on buying, selling, renting, investing, building, moving house, suburb information and agent advice, all from industry experts.

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