Designer Tips To Make The Most Of Your Small Living Space

Big ideas for small spaces from Katrina Giles of Seaside Interiors

By Katrina Giles   2017-01-16

Photos and text by Katrina Giles of Seaside Interiors

Many of us have somewhat smaller abodes and often struggle with how to make the best use of our space. In my own home the smallest space, ironically,  has become the most used area in the whole house. We have a small 11’ x 12’ room right off our kitchen/eating area. The previous owners used it as an additional dining area but we decided that a family room would be more practical for our needs. Here are a few tips on how we maximized the space without sacrificing style:

Start with a plan

photo by Katrina Giles, Seaside Interiors

It is especially important to have a plan in place when shopping for a small room. You can contact a design professional to develop a full plan for the space or at the very least sketch out a floorplan, showing all dimensions, and take it with you when furniture shopping. Better to know beforehand that the sofa that’s caught your eye will actually fit in your living room, before arranging delivery.


Select functional furniture

photo by Katrina Giles, Seaside Interiors

Incorporate furniture pieces with storage for everyday items such as books and toys. A small living space demands places to stash your stuff. Think coffee tables with drawers, end tables with shelves or ottomans that open.       

Avoid big, bulky furniture. Select sofas and tables with a narrower depth when possible. Furniture with clean, straight lines will allow for more actual seating space, so avoid that sofa with the wide puffy arms.


Select pieces that do double duty 

photo by Katrina Giles, Seaside Interiors

Consider upholstered chairs at either end of the kitchen or dining table. They will be easy to bring into your small living space to accommodate extra people, and will also be comfy.

A small space is often a well-used space. Avoid some of the wear and tear by having glass cut to size to protect furniture tops.

Consider vertical storage. A tall bookcase will provide tons of storage while only taking up a small area of floor space.


Architectural details

photo by Katrina Giles, Seaside Interiors

If you don’t have a lot of floor space to work with, consider vertical panelling or columns to draw the eye up and add visual height to the space.


Add style with accessories

photo by Katrina Giles, Seaside Interiors

Stick to mostly neutral colours to create an overall sense of flow. Amp up the look with a few great accessories such as flowers, trays and candles, to add a fun pop of colour.

Incorporate a rug to anchor the furniture grouping and create a cozy feel.


photo by Katrina Giles, Seaside Interiors

Spice it up! Mix textures and patterns to create interest and add a sense of style to the space. Layer items such as pillows and throws. Use a combination of blinds and panels on the windows.

Extend drapery panels to either side of the window to make it appear larger and bring more light into the space.

Adding a mirror is a great way to visually expand the space while also adding sparkle and light.


Strike a balance

photo by Katrina Giles, Seaside Interiors

A symmetrical layout is often the best way to make the most efficient use of the space while keeping it from feeling too busy or cluttered.




Hands On






Home & Cabin is Newfoundland and Labrador’s quarterly magazine of home design and lifestyle, showcasing life at its best. With Home & Cabin, enjoy quality editorial on everything from designing your new kitchen to building a floating dock to the latest and greatest in the products and accessories. The magazine is published by Downhome Inc.

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