How to Maximize a Small Space

How to Use the Small Spaces You Have to Live the Life You Want

Scandinavian Living Room maximizing a small space creating a zone for every task

Small spaces are tricky when it comes to combining function and style. The challenges of living in them can be tough. Without a spacious walk-in closet or a spare bedroom to hold odds and ends, it can feel like you’re living in a tornado most days. Where to put things and ending up instead with a bunch of dreaded clutter. Here’s our list of ideas to maximize a small space.

Small spaces aren’t dead ends (we promise)! Getting a bit creative and using space wisely, you’ll find that it’s not so impossible to optimize storage after all.

RELATED: Foolproof Pantry Organization

Tip #1 – Get Vertical to Maximize a Small Space

In a small apartment or home, the reality is that you just don’t have a ton of floor space. Bookshelves become obstacles to stub your toe on as you walk past. Extra dressers make bedrooms feel crowded and tiny. The key in small spaces is to get vertical – that is, go up. Use your walls as a means to add much-needed storage and strategically collect your belongings. If you’re purposeful about styling, shelves can work double time as art and can be incredibly visually pleasing to the eye.

  1. Shelves work as visual art and simultaneously eliminate the need to take up floor space with a side table / Source
  2. Transforming an unused wall into a multi-functional chalkboard and shelves for wine and spice storage makes this kitchen feel much less cluttered / Source
  3. These shelves above the toilet make this bathroom feel much more spacious by serving as open and organized storage for toilet paper and other essentials / Source
  4. Adding shelves to maximize floor space makes all the difference – plus, these shelves double as built-in night stands for this bedroom

Tip #2 – Take Advantage of Unused Nooks to Maximize a Small Space

People too often resort to using unused areas – like the one’s underneath steps – for only storage. The result is that they stay dusty and cut off from the rest of the house. Why not transform spots like those into bookshelves or reading nooks? Make your small spaces work for your needs and give previously ignored areas new life.

  1. A once unused portion of wall space is transformed into beautiful open shelving for towel storage in this bathroom / Source
  2. A kids’ playroom is created out of the unused space underneath the staircase / Source
  3. A hallway makes excellent use of unused space with built-in storage cabinets and a stylish bench / Source
  4. An unused under-the-stairs space is transformed into a useful office nook / Source

Tip #3 – Get Organized!

While a full-scale remodel with bump-outs and additions sounds ideal, there’s a much less expensive way for you to utilize your small spaces. Investing in baskets, bins, and closet storage solutions to maximize your storage capabilities can make all the difference. When things have a proper place, it’s much easier to see everything at a glance. It prevents you from getting frustrated with a lack of space and turning to clutter as the norm instead.

  1. Shelves help keep shoes off of the floor of the closet and in their proper organized spots / Source
  2. A linen closet is expertly organized by type of linen in wire baskets / Source
  3. Compartmentalized closet space helps to dedicate specific areas to clothes, shoes, and accessories / Source
  4. This pantry is kept neat and organized thanks for labeled containers and clear glassware / Source

RELATED: Organization Refresh for the New Year

Tip #4 – Use Multi-Functional Furniture to Maximize a Small Space

Ottomans and chaises can double up as storage spaces. Extra throw blankets, games, kids’ toys, you name it – and opting for furniture that is multi-functional can save you a ton of space-saving headaches. Why not get more for your money and have a clutter-free house in the process?

  1. Lacquer storage coffee table from West Elm / Source
  2. Built-in storage underneath a bed frame / Source
  3. Wall shelves double as a built-in desk / Source
  4. Enzo storage chaise from West Elm / Source

Tip #5 – Utilize Your Entryway Space

Similar to getting vertical, your entryway space doesn’t have to be an overly cluttered corner of the home where coats, boots, and keys all get piled up together without any rhyme or reason. Utilize hooks, benches, and baskets to make the chaos organized. As much as we’d all like our homes to be perfectly styled at all times, their actual purpose is to be lived in. So, build in entryway solutions so that all of the usual clutter suspects have a spot where they belong, and your space feels collected and calm.

  1. Built-in cubbies and a bench means there is a spot for everything and the entryway stays organized and functional / Source
  2. A floating entryway cupboard (IKEA IVAR unit) provides shelving and baskets to tuck clutter out of sight / Source
  3. This space creatively took advantage of an unused corner to double up as a spot to store keys and hang bags / Source
  4. Hooks provide ample hanging spots for coats and bags, and a bench with storage drawers helps tuck clutter out of sight / Source

RELATED: Mudroom Ideas for the Busy Family

Small spaces don’t have to be a burden. If you think outside of the box and use every square inch with intention, they really can work for you and your home can become a space where you feel relaxed and at ease. We all want to live the life we’ve always dreamed of – so why let your small living quarters stop you? Follow these tips and your clutter will quickly move over to make room for organization and beautifully styled living.


Hi, I’m Carla


I’m glad you’re here! You are in the right place if you are feeling overwhelmed at the thought of embarking on a remodeling or interior design project. Living with an outdated home and don’t know where to start? I’ve helped families like yours update their home and create spaces that reflect what’s important to them for over 25 years.

I’ve been honored to be featured in:

Real Homes

The Spruce

Apartment Therapy / Cubby

Twin Cities Luxury + Fashion

MSP Magazine

Minneapolis Star Tribune


Home Crux



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