Our Best Small Space Decorating Tricks You Should Steal

Amie Corely Office Sitting Aear
Photo: Ashley Gieseking

When it comes to a home, small should not mean claustrophobic. In fact, with a bit of help from thoughtful furnishings, color picks, and organizational tactics, even the quirkiest alcove can evolve into a beloved spot.

While short on available space, there are countless opportunities to take advantage of in tiny, often-overlooked areas. Being smart about small space decorating is essential. Joanna Teplin, the cofounder of Nashville's The Home Edit, says, "When space and storage are limited, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. By paring things down and utilizing creative solutions, you can really embrace the space you have." Whether you're looking to maximize a small closet or learning to live in 600 square feet, we have tricks to help you make the most of decorating small spaces.

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Tiny Kitchen with Big Impact

Amie Corely Kitchenette Dining Area
Ashley Gieseking

Walking into Amie Corley's stunning office, you'd never guess that it was formerly an abandoned caretaker's apartment in the carriage house alongside her 1907 home. Corley employed a favorite tiny-kitchen trick by covering the appliances with matching cabinet panels. Embracing the comfort, Corley went all-in with her favorite hue, "covering everything in one color actually keeps a small space feeling more open because your eye doesn't get cut off anywhere," she says.

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A Hip Lounge

Amie Corely Office Sitting Aear
Ashley Gieseking

Whether you're embracing extra space in your attic or basement, low ceilings and awkward window heights can be challenging. Designer Amie Corley created an inviting sitting area in her office for clients and friends alike. In the sitting room, a sofa coordinates with the walls. "Blending big pieces like a sofa into the wall color creates an almost negative space, letting your eyes rest and enabling you to add contrast or pattern elsewhere," she says.

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A Mod Workroom

Amie Corley White Mod Office Workroom
Ashley Gieseking

Designer Amie Corley needed her desk area to be a white backdrop for design work. She made it attractive and functional with elegant cabinetry, floating shelves, clutter-taming baskets, and jolts of yellow. Hiding unsightly office necessities helps the room's appearance while accentuating some decorative yet functional elements can add personality to the space.

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A Cozy Little Corner

Andrew Howard Cozy Living Room Window Seat
Lucas Allen

Add a statement-making banquette to a corner of your living room that a random piece of accent furniture might otherwise occupy. This seating area is a beautiful place for party guests or family members to relax and converse—and also a spot to sneak in a few layers of color, pattern, and texture. The keys to successfully pulling off this decorating scheme are mixing and matching designs and keeping it cozy.

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A Composed Mudroom

Lacy Philips Gray Mudroom
Laurey W. Glenn

Lacy Phillips, an interior designer from Pensacola, wanted this entry to serve as a hardworking drop zone for her busy family of five— but the window's positioning meant that she couldn't add built-in cabinetry without blocking the natural light. The solution was to purchase a unique shoe bench. It offers storage and rustic charm, while two strips of oversize hooks hold everything from bags to jackets above. Paneled walls painted in a light tone keep the area from feeling cramped or cluttered.

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A Happy Kitchen Nook

Amy Berry Yellow Breakfast Nook
Nathan Schroder

When redoing this kitchen for a young family in Dallas, interior designer Amy Berry transformed a previously unused window area into a bright breakfast nook with a sunny disposition. She knew she would focus her design on a round pedestal or trestle table. These allow you to squeeze in a few additional people when needed since the centered base prevents awkward straddling of table legs.

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New Uses for Big Furniture

China Cabinet Used for Storage
Laurey W. Glenn

If you have beloved large furniture but are short on square footage, use your big pieces creatively. For example, store dry goods in a china cabinet to create a pantry in the open. The glass shelving can display some of your favorite home decor items, while the closed shelving below hosts your less presentable items.

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Employ a Wheeled Wonder

Chrome Bathroom Cart
Laurey W. Glenn

No storage space in your bath? Use a solution on wheels (like this chrome beauty) to store towels and trinkets in style. Movable furniture can be stored away when guests visit to reduce the appearance of clutter. This storage solution can also be a way to organize your items based on what time of the day you use them.

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Construct Shoe Shelves

Shoe Shelves in Closet
Laurey W. Glenn

Shoes littering your space? Try this small space solution: Create a shelving system in your closet beneath the hanging garments for your shoes, bags, and folded sweaters. You can even tuck a small, clean-lined bookshelf into the bottom of the closet to take advantage of vertical space—shelves always do the trick!

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Lean on a Book Stack

Books Stacked in Corner
Laurey W. Glenn

Small spaces rarely have room for a big shelf, but they can look messy if you don't have somewhere to display your favorite books. Avoid this problem by stacking books vertically in one corner of the room. You'll add a bit of shelf space in the process once your items reach a suitable height.

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Add Hybrid Seating

Stool Used as Bar Cart
Laurey W. Glenn

Tiny kitchens need seating space too. Grab a stool to offer additional seating, but make it work double duty. You can set a tray on top, fill it with your favorite liquors, and accommodate guests with your new corner bar stool.

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Extend Your Mantel

Two-Tiered Fireplace Mantle
Laurey W. Glenn

In a small space, every inch of shelf space is valuable. Add two-tiered shelving to the top of your mantel with a shelf fastened to the wall. It provides a seamless addition of display space.

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Define Zones with Rugs

Double Rugs in Studio Apartment
Laurey W. Glenn

Define each area of your space—especially if you have a studio apartment. Rugs help create zones and define each nook instead of giving the impression of one blurred, combined room. When space is limited, every room must serve a function.

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Old Objects in New Ways

Repurposed Antique Champagne Buckets
Laurey W. Glenn

Find creative ways to use objects that you already have. A gorgeous set of antique champagne buckets? Attach them to the wall and use them for flatware storage, as planters for flowers, or as graphic art. When in doubt, go vertical and take advantage of wall space in small rooms.

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Go Bold

Bold Patterns in Small Living Room
Laurey W. Glenn

Don't be afraid to go big and bold with patterns in small spaces. Add touches of personality by mixing designs on beds, framed photos, and vibrant wallpaper. Incorporate serene neutrals for a grounding base to accentuate your joyful accents.

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Adorn Simply

Small Planters Front Porch
Alison Miksch

Don't crowd small spaces, like this open-air porch, with furniture and plants. Use well-chosen, sculptural details, like these planters flanking the porch doors. The vertical design adds visual interest without overpowering the floor space. A tiny planter by the front door adds just enough charm for this compact facade.

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Avoid Bathroom Clutter

Landscape Art in White Bathroom
Jean Allsopp

In a space like this small bath, embrace simplicity with one big focal like this stunning tub. Bare white walls give the illusion of more space. Adding one large piece of landscape art maintains the clean-lined, spacious, and elegant room vibe and adds color, depth, and interest.

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Embrace Banquette Seating

Colorful Kitchen Banquette Seating
Laurey W. Glenn

A banquette can be a great go-to when you need flexible seating in a small space. Chairs can move throughout the room, but many people—kids, friends, family—can crowd onto a banquette for breakfasts, homework, and game nights. Positioning this table area by a window adds an extra aspect of openness to the room by incorporating natural light.

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Carefully Curate Tabletops

Gold Foyer
Laurey W. Glenn

Clutter is your enemy when you are styling a tabletop. Especially in a foyer, keep things simple with a few well-chosen lamps, frames, and beautiful objects. Look to add hooks or built-in shelves to prevent someone from tripping on a mess, especially in a high foot-traffic hallway.

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Play With Symmetry

Symmetrical Couches Living Room
Laurey W. Glenn

In a cozy family room, oversized sofas can be perfect for movie nights, reading hours, and long afternoon naps. If you aren't concerned with having lots of room to move, fill a small space with comfy, symmetrical seating. Big sofas that mirror each other create an eye-pleasing design that will keep the area feeling clean, not crowded. It will become everyone's favorite nook.

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Shrink Your Favorites

Small Loveseat and Coffee Table
Laurey W. Glenn

If you have a small space to fill, look to small-scale versions of your favorite pieces, like the loveseat version of a beautiful sofa or a side table version of a pretty coffee table. It will fill the space with style, only smaller. Make this unique item the focal point of your decorating plan.

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Cultivate Container Style

Multiple Flowers in Container
Alison Miksch

Who has room for all those pots and planters? Combine your favorite floral styles in one compact planter for a maximum garden impact that takes up much less space. It's perfect for a small porch or patio. You can also choose a hanging basket eliminating the need for floor space.

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Add Color with Flowers

Pink and Purple Flowers in Container
Alison Miksch

For design in small spaces, flowers work wonders. You can always change the colors and styles, but vases, small planters, and window boxes are invigorated with arrangement changes. Flowers are also a great way to display holiday themes without wasting your valuable space.

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Keep Clutter to a Minimum

Clean White Countertops
Robert Radifera

Nothing makes a kitchen feel smaller than a countertop filled with bowls, utensils, and cookbooks—in a word: clutter. Keep spaces bright, airy, and clean by using shelving and in-drawer storage solutions. Consolidate where you can by donating doubles of items you rarely use.

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Use Nook and Cranny Space

Bar Nook with Mini Fridge
Robert Radifera

In a small area, no corner should go to waste. This nook offers efficient use of space by adding a refrigerator for drinks, shelving for storing glasses, and a marble-topped counter in a small bar. It adds party and prep space to a small kitchen. Make use of cabinets to keep excess cocktail mixes and containers.

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Decorate Your Walls

Vintage Basket Filled with Flowers
Alison Miksch

Take advantage of empty wall space with creative wall art. Fill a vintage basket with flowers, add art, or hang pretty, graphic objects for decor that doesn't intrude on your square footage. Transform unique decor into a focal point by converting it into a wall hanging.

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Design for Real Life

Small Space for Dog
Robert Radifera

Who uses the space? There's limited square footage, so make it work for you, your family, and your pet's needs by thinking through your daily routines. In this kitchen, a clever, hidden door opens to a cozy bed for a sweet pup. It saves space since there is no need for a kennel.

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Go For Brights

Bright Green Bathroom with Wallpaper
Laurey W. Glenn

In a small area, like this tiny guest bath, bold wallpaper and bright accents lend a lively and airy vibe to the enclosed, windowless room. When natural light is not an option, add overhead lighting to mimic this sun and illuminate the space. Light will reflect off your pops of color and help it shine.

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Insert a Breakfast Nook

Blue and White Breakfast Nook
Laurey W. Glenn

Even the smallest rooms add real impact. Breakfast nooks have service—making everything from breakfast to homework to game nights a little easier. Find a way to carve out the space for this multi-purpose space in your tiny home (with just a few chairs or a complete banquette), and you'll never look back.

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Play With Recessed Spaces

Small Dresser in Nook
Laurey W. Glenn

Have any awkward recessed nooks in your small studio? Crannies with no real purpose? If you can find just the right size of desk or dresser, try tucking your furniture into the area for the ultimate storage solution. Other alternatives include using the small corner for storage, so there's no waste of space.

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Fashion Multi-Purpose Rooms

Colorful Small Living Room and Bedroom
Laurey W. Glenn

This home was a two-bedroom with a considerable need for more living space. Turquoise walls revamp the second bedroom containing a queen-size daybed to create a multi-purpose den that can easily convert into a guest bedroom. Natural light makes it an ideal space for work, and the sweeping drapes help prepare it for someone to sleep.

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Select Multi-Use Furniture

Turquoise Room with Daybed
Laurey W. Glenn

A daybed works wonders in a small space. It can function as both sofa and bed, adding increased flexibility and functionality to a studio apartment, guest room, or living room. This queen bed-daybed hybrid was created by affixing two headboards to a mattress base.

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Stack and Lean Art

Art Stacked on Mantel
Laurey W. Glenn

No room to hang art on the walls? Stack it on the mantel and lean it against the walls. It adds instant style and a casual, mix-and-matched vibe. If there is more art than wall space, create mini-galleries throughout the house and branch out—art isn't just for walls anymore.

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Add a Touch of Green

Fiddleleaf Fig in Corner
Alison Miksch

Are you desperate for some green in your space but no room for pots and planters? Tuck a fiddleleaf fig in the corner or line up tiny pots of succulents on a windowsill. The fiddleleaf fig will thrive in bright light and regular water, and the succulents require very little attention. Voila!

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Entertain Alfresco

Dining Outside
Laurey W. Glenn

No space for entertaining inside? Move outdoors and establish the entertaining in your backyard or garden. The whole yard can be your living room as long as the weather cooperates. There's no need for cramped cocktail hours inside when you can set up tables and chairs under the stars.

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Seek Space-Saving Elements

Wicker Basket Under Sink Storage Bathroom
Laurey W. Glenn

Space-saving pieces with thoughtful features, like the elements in this bath, make the most of a tight space. A single sconce and perfectly proportioned drawers (plus custom under-sink storage) ensure a streamlined and orderly area free from clutter. Try refurbishing an old piece of furniture you don't have the space for but can't seem to throw out.

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Invest in Sconces

Sconces on Wooden Wall
Laurey W. Glenn

No room for tabletop lamps? No extra square footage for a floor lamp? Then sconces are the way to go. They add ambiance, illumination, and functional style without occupying valuable floor space.

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Keep Cabinetry Streamlined

Glossy White Kitchen with Tile Backsplash
Laurey W. Glenn

Hide clutter with streamlined, minimalist-inspired cabinetry. This small kitchen maintains visual consistency by mirroring the style of the cabinets and bar. The glossy white hue keeps things light and airy too. A bar or island is also a great place to incorporate seamless storage—if you can, add drawers for all your tools and a place for a trash can. An island with storage keeps everything hidden and countertops looking clean, but the kitchen remains completely functional.

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Optimize Ottomans

Ottoman as Coffee Table Living Room
Laurey W. Glenn

Use a pair of ottomans to create a clever coffee table that doubles as additional seating. By setting a tray on top of the fabric ottoman, you add a sturdy place to put a cup of coffee or style an array of books and beautiful objects. Remove the tray to offer more seating when entertaining or want to rest your legs.

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Incorporate Substantial Storage

Permanent Under Sink Storage Bathroom
Laurey W. Glenn

While it may be tempting to toss a basket under an open sink for impromptu storage, adding permanent storage can be a better—and more attractive—option. A hefty, enclosed series of drawers and cabinets make a real impact while hiding all the clutter bound to accumulate. Permanent fixtures add sophistication to the space, no matter the room's size.

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Embrace Close Quarters

Multifunctional Living and Dining Room
Laurey W. Glenn

When small spaces require multiple functions like this dining and living room, cluster the furniture to create defined areas. Instead of a sectional, add a sofa and loveseat next to a small table in an open corner. Like puzzle pieces, well-chosen furniture elements can fit together seamlessly without feeling cramped or cluttered.

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Paint Walls White

White and Blue Living Room
Laurey W. Glenn

It's quintessential small-space advice: Paint your walls white. And it's a classic tip for a reason. White walls add an airy lightness that makes any small room feel more spacious.

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Add Unexpected Vibrancy

Porch with Green Ceiling
Laurey W. Glenn

White walls can work wonders, but in a small space with many windows, add a vibrant color that draws the eye in (or perhaps up) and interacts playfully with colors both in and outside. Include rich colors in pillows or art, but for a bold addition, paint the ceiling. This ceiling adorned in a deep, saturated emerald hue is a nod to its waterside setting and a gorgeous design element for this small living area.

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Rugs Create Cohesion

Heavily Patterned Living Room with Neutral Rug
Laurey W. Glenn

When you have a variety of pieces, you love in a small space, embrace the vivacity the mix creates, but use a neutral rug to tie it all together. A subdued pattern or combination of colors and textures can unite the space. Even the most eclectic rooms need a grounding base, and a rug can offer that stability.

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Make it Work for You

Mirror Over Fireplace with Matching Chairs
Laurey W. Glenn

If any architectural or design elements don't fit your lifestyle, then change them and make them work for you. The designer covered the front of the fireplace with antiqued mirrors. This effect adds interest and makes the formerly boarded-up hearth a welcome sight, not an eyesore. Instead of leaving it open to access, the designer placed matching chairs in front of the fireplace. There's no need to access the area, so seating works perfectly here—and looks great when reflected in the fireplace's new, mirrored design.

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Think Outside the Cabinet

Antique Cabinet Over Kitchen Sink
Laurey W. Glenn

No room for a complete set of kitchen cabinetry? Try using freestanding pieces, like this antique case, that can be hung and repurposed as over-the-sink storage. It's inspired.

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Go Wild for Wallpaper

Green Bamboo Wallpaper in Bathroom
Laurey W. Glenn

Tiny spaces are the perfect places to branch out and try bold wallpapers and paint colors. The vibrant wallpaper in this small bathroom packs just enough punch. Offset by white fixtures, this color makes a statement.

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Maximize In-Between Areas

Enclosed Upstairs Balcony as Study
Laurey W. Glenn

The owners enclosed an upstairs balcony in this space to form a second-floor study. Instead of a landing only used for passing through, the room is perfect for lounging or hosting guests who can sleep on the room's foldout sofa. The darkly painted wainscoting paneling adds depth to the room.

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Style With Accessories

Colorful Pillows on Window Bench
Laurey W. Glenn

Your space should evolve with you, but it isn't always convenient (or in the budget) to buy new furniture to fit your space and your mood. Make changes with pillows and accents. Mix and match colors and patterns to create a new room in a snap.

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Flex Your Furniture

Bunkroom with Red Beds
Laurey W. Glenn

If you have limited space but also have a big family or many regular guests, focus on the flexibility of the pieces, colors, and design elements you already have. This family created a bunkroom by lining up four Jenny Lind beds painted in bright red. It's a maximized space that is also flexible—it's great for kids and guests alike, and the configuration can change on a dime.

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Open Up the Floor Plan

Gray and Neutral Kitchen
Laurey W. Glenn

This cramped kitchen doubled in size when the owners removed the wall separating the breakfast room and kitchen. The open floor plan makes the whole area feel more spacious. An open floor plan makes entertaining easy since you can host many people in one space without feeling like you're excluding anyone.

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Keep Bedsides Simple

Wooden Side Table with Drawers
Laurey W. Glenn

Few other places in the house can become as cluttered as the bedside table corner. Use a tiny table with a substantial drawer to store and hide unwanted clutter, and style the tabletop with a simple lamp and carefully chosen design elements to keep things simple—and peaceful. Tables with multiple drawers can help reduce the visible chaos.

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Brighten With Benches

Wood Foyer with Bright Bench
Laurey W. Glenn

This small foyer doesn't have room for a big desk or other substantial furniture, so this small, brightly painted bench works wonders. It adds a pop of color to a neutral, dark space and provides a perfect perch for groceries or bags. Make the most of in-between spaces, and remember how you use the room—design for function and real life.

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Avoid Stumbling Blocks

Double Couches with Barn Doors Living Room
Laurey W. Glenn

In a narrow space like this living room, don't be afraid to forgo typical design features if they don't work in the area. This room doesn't try to squeeze a coffee table between the parallel sofas. It allows the seating to flank the room's focal point, the gorgeous fireplace, and leaves plenty of legroom between the couches.

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Design Customizable Elements

Birch-Bark Cardholder
Laurey W. Glenn

This birch-bark cardholder is used for Christmas cards in December but can be customized with photos and keepsakes all year. Incorporate simple, flexible elements (like photo displays) into your space so that you can update them—and guests can fawn over them. A beautiful feature, like this birch-bark cardholder, can also stand independently without additions.

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Create an Eat-in Kitchen

White Kitchen with Island and Breakfast Nook
Laurey W. Glenn

If you don't have a dining room—or if you decided to turn the dining room into a living room and now need a place to eat—try tucking a table and chairs into the kitchen. It's easy to create an eat-in kitchen, even if you are tight on space. Try a foldout bistro table and two chairs for a tiny room, or a banquette and substantial breakfast table for an area with more freedom to move.

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Sneak In Smart Storage

Idea House 2020 Mudroom with Storage and Bench
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Kendra Surface

Add storage wherever you can think of when renovating. "If you have the space to create a corner nook like this, get a carpenter to put the seating on piano hinges and use that hidden storage for appliances that aren't needed often," recommends New Orleans professional organizer Tami Hills. This unique solution will reduce the clutter seen by visitors and add functionality to a small space.

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Fend Off Clutter

Wayfair Rothstein Wood Storage Bench
Courtesy of Wayfair

Colorful pillows coordinate with the vintage rug and serve a second purpose—to discourage dropping any personal items on the bench. "Small spaces must be well organized: Bags go on hooks, shoes are put in slots, etc.," Phillips says. "We do our best to keep it clean and clear to allow room to sit and to make things look tidy."

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Open Things Up

Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam Charleston, SC Home Pink and White Master Bathroom
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Lizzie Cullen Cox

Roman shades allow light to stream through rooms, making them excellent options for window coverings. Any window treatments, such as drapes, can elongate a viewer's perspective of the room and brighten it when attached to the wall. Opening up areas to natural light freshens even a tiny space.

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