Small Spaces

25 ways to make the most of a small space

25 ways to make the most of a small space

Learn the tips & tricks to make the most of your small space. Author: Alex Lukey

Small Spaces

25 ways to make the most of a small space

Make your small space work harder with smart solutions for making it look and feel larger than it actually is.


“Every room has eight corners. Don’t forget that.”

I first heard that from my mom when I was a kid. Whenever we moved, about every other year, I’d hear her mutter those words when she thought she was alone. Standing with hands on hips, she’d stare into the ceiling of our latest apartment, surrounded by boxes and wondering how we’d organize all the books and plants and knick-knacks this time around.
My mom had a point (and she made our space look cosy and organized and funky no matter the size), but she was no design expert. So I found two pros to provide some insight on how to make the most of tight spots in your home.

Meet the experts
Lynda Felton is stylist in Toronto who’s created living spaces for magazines and books.

Kyla Rozman, along with her business partner Pamela Ferrari, runs Vancouver-based In Order To Succeed Professional Organizing.

1 Remember: A tiny room doesn’t have to hold only tiny furniture.
Sometimes with a small space, people avoid large furniture thinking it will dominate the room. Not true. A large sectional can often be better than a small sofa and chair. Lynda

2 Combine like objects and purge.
Don’t purchase any organizing supplies until you know precisely what needs to be stored. Kyla

3 Use mirrors and glass to create reflections and bounce light around.
Making a small space seem grand depends on maximizing light. You can do that with a glass coffee table, rather than a wood or opaque one. You can do it by tucking mirrors into corners, and by hanging art in glass frames, which create reflections. Lynda

4 Ensure that window coverings don’t cut off light when they’re open.
Hang curtains so that when they’re open, the entire pane is clear; open curtains should fall beside the window and not obscure any of it. Don’t hang curtains inside the window frame. Consider hanging curtains from the ceiling, rather than from the top of the window, which will add height (and some drama) to the space. Lynda

5 Think vertically.
Whether you’re hanging art or shelves, or placing furniture, don’t let vertical space go to waste. Using it is practical, providing a display space for art, for example, and it also draws the eye up, making a space feel more expansive than it actually is. LyndaROOM-BY-ROOM SPECIFICS
In the kitchen
6 Install to-the-ceiling cabinets.

Light-coloured cabinets, open shelves and glass-front doors will help to lighten a space. Too many cabinets, especially made of dark materials, will give the impression that the room is much smaller than it actually is. Lynda

7 Increase accessibility and capacity.
You can do this by adding pullout shelves, rotating inserts and tilt-out bins. Kyla

8 Use cork and magnetic boards.
If new or more cabinets aren’t in your future or your budget, remember that canisters on the counter take up valuable real estate. So cast your eye up to see where you can hang utensils, pots and pans on previously unused space. Lynda

9 Buy wire shelves.
They’re a must in a small space and in the kitchen they can almost double a cupboard’s capacity. Kyla

10 Use the inside of cupboard doors.
If covered with magnetic paint, they can accommodate papers and notes that might get knocked off a fridge in a small space. Lynda  

11 Fill a cleaning caddy with supplies that can be stored in the kitchen, but transported around the house. This eliminates the need for cleaning supplies in multiple rooms, like the basement and bathroom, saving space in each. KylaIn the home office
12 Use a wall file system to organize documents.

This will get them off your work surface, but keep them visible and handy. Kyla

13 Consider redesigned wall bed/shelf/desk combinations.
The bed and desk fold into the wall leaving the room clear when you need the space. They also work well in a spare bedroom. Kyla

14 Move all CDs and DVDs into books with sleeves.
I love the faux leather ones at Staples. Then you can dispose of the space-consuming plastic jewel cases. Kyla

15 Don’t throw your coins in a jar.
Buy plastic coin holders that lay open and drop your coins into the appropriate sleeve. You’ll save hours because you’ll never have to sort again. Kyla

16 Get a paper shredder.
And in a small space, make it a habit to shred as soon as mail comes in. That way, there’s no backlog. KylaIn the living room
17 Watch your furniture scale.

You can make a compact room feel much bigger by choosing a few large, bold pieces rather than several smaller ones. And keep the main furnishings in proportion to each other. Lynda

18 Avoid bold patterns or overstuffed furniture with thick arms.
Streamlined pieces, such as armless Parson chairs, are beautiful space savers. Lynda

19 Hang your flat screen TV on a flexible arm.
This eliminates the need for a TV stand or entertainment unit. KylaIn the bathroom
20 Get rid of any visual obstructions.

Trade a frosted-glass bath or shower door for a clear glass one. Better yet, eliminate the door altogether and hang a shower curtain that can be pushed to one side when not in use. Lynda

21 Use pullout drawers in the cupboard below your sink.
These ones from Lee Valley are designed to accommodate plumbing. Kyla

22 Hang shelves above the toilet.
Use decorative boxes on the shelves to contain/hide the clutter. Label the boxes so that everything is easy to find, or so that everyone in the household can have their own box. Kyla

In the hallway and closet
23 Wallpaper isn’t just on-trend. It’s practical, too.

In narrow hallways, wallpaper can draw the eye away from the length of the space and create the illusion of width. Just remember: a small space isn't a place for high-contrast colour or patterns. Go for tone-on-tone papers. Lynda

24 Work the lateral space.
By adding a second rod inside a closet, you can double your hanging space. Hanging cubby shelves attached to the rod can add space for sweaters, shoes and hats. Lynda

25 Go custom.
Made-to-measure closet systems can be affordable. And systems from Storables or the Container Store can be dismantled if you want to take them with you when you move. Kyla

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Small Spaces

25 ways to make the most of a small space