Small spaces with attitude

Living in a small space today is either a commitment to a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle, a budget necessity, or both.  But living large in a small space is what good design is all about.

Today we cover a common challenge in our discussions with clients:  how do we downsize but retain our quality of life?

Obviously, interior styles and demographics (gender, age, etc) are typically interrelated.  What works for a young student may not  for a retiree.  A working couple who only meet up in the evening would have different needs than a stay-at-home family.

We’ve cobbled up some ideas that address “tiny”, but with attitude.

Back to the light

If you have a small space but big windows, the battle is half won.  Natural light can make a huge difference between living in a jewel box versus a carton.

Below, we created a utilitarian apartment ideal for a student in about a 12 square-foot space blessed with big windows.  Tall vertical cabinets like garage units,  budget kitchen cabinets (used here – note the handy service counter!) or even repurposed gym lockers can effectively use space between windows yet leave a narrow footprint.


Furnishings are dual-purpose and space savers. Note the pull-out trundle bed for a guest or extra seating when you add throw pillows.  The large trunk at the foot of the bed acts as a table yet works well for storage, along with baskets and bins throughout that contain clutter. the enemy of cute!

The small leather chairs stack well (Stackables are ideal for tiny living).  We topped the look with a colorful screen to separate the bed from the rest of the space or where needed for privacy.

Going for glam

Going from mostly utilitarian to more chic in a larger city pad, this concept, below, is all about distracting from small with WOW colors. (Love the café au lait with fuschia!) We kept it all to just a few colors and no patterns to make the space cohesive and appear larger than it is.

CVA city pad1.jpg

Using structural alcoves for furniture is a smart space saving strategy, as in this case with the bed. The couch as dining banquette is paired with a table and chairs that can be moved around to sit five or six.

As we said above, light is a friend to the small.  By changing the solid bathroom door to a more decorative one with frosted glass, you add more light to the room while adding an attractive feature.

Cornered yet free

Rooms with 90-degrees windows can be especially tricky.

CVA citypad3

For this small flat, the windows are the main focus.  This arrangement unifies the twp frames with a show-stopping valance, anchored by a robust rug.  Color comes to the rescue again, with patterns bold enough to draw your eye beyond to the view, visually extending the space.

Again, maximizing your small living space in style depends on:

  • Unifying color scheme
  • One focal point
  • Creative storage
  • Multi-purpose or modular furnishings.




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