Just because "tiny houses" are all the rage these days doesn't mean the idea is new. Anyone who has lived in a small space will tell you that people have been making small living spaces work for ages (we're talking centuries, if not millennia). Just because your living space is small doesn't mean you have to live small. No, you might not have the most spacious apartment, but that doesn't mean it can't be functional.

8 Ways to Make the Most of Small Living Spaces

  1. If you are trying to plan your small spaces before you move in, see if you can get a floor plan with measurements ahead of time. Remember that just because something is described as a "bedroom" or "dining room" on the plan doesn't mean you have to use it for that. Rooms have walls - that doesn't mean your mind has to as well.
  2. Invest in organization. Yes, embrace the "I have a place for everything and everything has its place" mindset. If you are tight on space, you want to make sure you are using the space you do have to its fullest potential.
  3. Buy multi-function furniture - sofa beds, collapsible dining tables, coffee tables and benches with storage, bookshelves that act as room dividers and wall-mounted desks that fold out when you need them and fold in when you don't.
  4. When buying your furniture, keep the idea of "scale" in mind, especially if you are looking at area rugs, sofas, entertainment cabinets and lighting fixtures. While very glamorous, a chandelier in your dining area will look awkward. The same can be said for rugs that are too large or small for a room and an entertainment unit that fills a wall when it was originally designed to be something more like a television stand.
  5. When you can't go out - go up. This one is pretty easy. When you run out of counter space or wall space, start adding storage vertically.
  6. De-clutter and keep things concealed. You'll see a lot of modern homes featuring open shelving in the kitchen or with built-ins that have no cabinet doors. While these elements can work in larger spaces, trying to adapt them to work in a small apartment doesn't deliver the same effect. If done in moderation, a few open shelves can also serve as decor. However, if you choose this route, make sure your dishes, glasses and pans are actually worth showing off to guests.
  7. Design with the unchangeable smallness in mind, which basically means you can't change where the walls and windows are, so design/decorate in ways to make the space feel larger. If you are allowed to pain your walls, go with a light, neutral color, and add pops of color and visual interest with your furnishings. Avoid dark wood stains and colors, because even that will make your room feel smaller. Choose lightweight curtains and hang the rod closer to the ceiling than to the top of the window frame, giving your wall the illusion of being taller than it actually is.
  8. Hang a mirror. Creating the illusion of having a larger space is just that easy. Not only do mirrors reflect light and brighten rooms, but the mirror image itself looks like your room is double the size is actually is. A word of caution: scale still matters when choosing a mirror and mirror frame. As a rule of thumb, try to pick a mirror that is about two-thirds the size of the furniture below it. You might be tempted to go with an extra-large mirror, but it's unlikely that it will deliver the effect you want. In fact, depending on the mirror, it could make your walls and rooms even smaller.

A Space All Your Own

When you find yourself moving to a less than spacious place, don't dwell so much on the square footage. The key for happily living in a small apartment is making it feel like home and a space where you can comfortable spend time.