So many people have become obsessed with small living spaces! Whether you already live in a small space, you're downsizing, or you just want to be more efficient with the space you have, these tips will help.
Go High and Low
Society today has become socialized to only see what's in front of us. Try something different: take a walk through your home and pay attention to space above your head toward the ceiling and space below your knees. If you've got high ceilings, you might find new opportunities for shelving or other storage, but close to the ground may work too.
Focus on "unusual" spots, too - like under the stairs, for example. Not that you should turn that space beneath the stairs into a bedroom, but it's possible that when you bypassed the stairs, you also neglected the perfect space to store out-of-season clothing.
Also, consider your furniture while you're examining your place from floor to ceiling. If space is at a premium, then you'll want to find dining room seating (for example) that tucks completely under the table when you're finished. Start making a list of furniture, decorative items, and other things that you may want to replace with more efficient options.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Hotel designers know this trick (and you won't be able to unsee it now that we've told you about it): Hang a large mirror across one wall to give the illusion of twice the space. When you arrange lights around or in front of the mirror, you're also brightening the room up significantly.
You can hang the mirror above a couch or a bed, or on the back of a door, very easily. And you can even find mirrored tile these days, so if you love the look of subway tile and also would like to take advantage of some mirroring in your bathroom or kitchen, then you can even consider a mirrored backsplash in one (or both) of those spots to capture light and brighten the room.
Work the Walls & Ceilings
Now that you've walked through your home with an eye toward the sky, you probably know where you are missing an opportunity to maximize your space.
Could you replace your kitchen light with a version that includes a rack for pots and pans, for example, freeing up some cabinet space below? Are you parking your bicycle in the hallway when you could install a couple of hooks and hang it up? Is there space to add a bookshelf or three for storing rarely used items? (Or books?!)
You might find there's space above your kitchen cabinets where you can park small appliances that you don't use very often, or maybe there are corners throughout your living space where you could install a shelf and use it. Remember: Your floor is just one surface; you can create many more if you need to.
And if you're still sporting a television stand taking up unnecessary space in the corner, then consider the wonderful world of wall mounts, which can securely hold your TV without encroaching on precious floor surface area.
Lights & Color
Natural light makes everything look bigger and brighter. Get greedy with yours! Consider using sheer curtains in any windows where light sneaks in, and place mirrors to catch and bounce it around your living space. And if you own the home and are able to install taller windows or even a skylight, it might be an investment worth making.
If you aren't lucky enough to have a good source of natural light, then fake it. Use lamps (hanging lamps won't even take up surface space in your pad), wall sconces, chandeliers, and other fixtures to brighten and enhance your living space.
Paint and color matter significantly, too. Some experts suggest painting everything white before you move into a small space to help maximize the feel and energy, and that will certainly work, but most of us don't want to live in an eggshell; if that's you, then think about pops of bright color that can balance out neutrals and draw the eye in. In general, try to steer clear of dark shades and instead opt for light neutrals and bright hues. (That said, most small living spaces don't lend themselves to a lot of bright colors all together in one spot, so be selective -- paint just one wall instead of the entire room, for example.)
Sliding Storage Drawers
You can use drawers or other storage solutions to tuck away items that you don't use all the time. Some tiny-home kitchens have mastered this art with retractable microwaves and stoves that slide out of a wall or cabinet when you need to use them and slide back in when you're finished.
It's definitely possible to take this concept to an extreme with fold-out dining sets that collapse back against the wall when you no longer need a place to eat, fold-out desks that appear and disappear as your day shifts from work to play, and wall beds (also known as Murphy beds) are a fantastic option for micro-dwellers who have to have that queen-size mattress but can't stomach the idea of taking up precious floor space 24/7 with a big bed. Some of them even transform from a desk/office area into a bed, taking multitasking to a new level of awesome.
Yes, you can have a washer-dryer in your small abode, but it's probably best if you choose a set that stacks to help save some floor space.
Appliance manufacturers have been paying attention to the micro-trend, and they've been building products for smaller spaces that work just as well as their full-size counterparts. Before decking out your diminutive dwelling, do some research on what appliances are available and consider whether they would work for you and your lifestyle.
Like that wall bed/office desk setup mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to maximize your space within small square footage is to require your things to multitask and multitask well.
Most people don't need a pressure cooker and a rice cooker, for example; you can use the Instant Pot you got for the holidays for both. And maybe that stand mixer still makes sense in a tiny kitchen if you have attachments that turn it into a food processor and juicer, too. But multitasking reaches far beyond appliances.
The hide-a-bed-style sleeper sofa that your parents had in the den is always one option, but there are sofas these days that will fold out into a full-size bed, ottomans, and benches with lids that open up for storage space, collapsible and nesting end tables, and much more. The ottoman with a lid on it can serve as a coffee table, chair, desk, and more. A breakfast bar with tall stools (that slide underneath when not in use) will make more sense for your living space and meal prep than a dining room set.
Make your Outdoors Awesome
Maybe that space between your walls is officially "tiny" -- but if you've got the ability to spread yourself around outside, then consider turning your deck or yard into a bonafide living space. Patio furniture and hammocks can help you create a dining or lounge space outside, complete with furniture, and if you have room for a grill outside (and the weather is nice enough year-round), then you might even be able to turn your out-of-doors into a kitchen of sorts. And storage shed outside can solve a lot of your storage problems, too, from out-of-season clothing to recreational equipment.
Keeping the lawn mowed and your flowerbeds blooming can also go a long way toward making your home feel serene and loved instead of cluttered and overstuffed with "stuff." If you maintain the outside of your home, it will invite you to relax just as effectively as a king-sized feather bed with fluffy white pillows or leather sectional in front of a television.