Small Spaces 101: Mistakes to Avoid When Designing for Tiny Rooms

By: Casey Gerber

May 25, 2016

Contrary to popular belief, bigger isn’t always better. And when it comes to design, we’re only limited by our sense of style, not our square footage. With the tiny house movement sweeping the nation, more and more people are finding themselves opting out of the once-popular mega mansion and choosing a more cozy environment. Whether or not you’ve found yourself in one of these micro living spaces, you probably have an area or two that could use a little extra leg room. Designers, Megan Opel and Laurel  Startzel show us how to get the most out of any space by avoiding these tiny room mistakes.


Mistake #1: Forcing The Right Fit

So often when people have a small space to design they become overwhelmed with the process because nothing seems to fit correctly. However, many times manufacturers make “apartment” sized sofas and sectionals. These pieces give you the look and style of the pieces you love, but in a slimmed down version to better accommodate a smaller footprint. – Laurel  Startzel 


Mistake #2: Neglecting Good Lighting

Small Spaces 101: Mistakes to Avoid When Designing for Tiny Rooms, Laurel & Wolf, bedroomwallsconces

Via Dwell // Live With Vision

One of the biggest mistakes I see in small spaces is failing to make use of wall space for lighting. For example, when space in a living area is tight, prioritize a bigger, cushier sofa ditching table and floor lamps in favor of wall-mounted, plug-in, or hardwired sconces. In both of the e-designs below, floor space was tight, so we opted for matching sconces to flank the art above the sofa, which allowed the clients to utilize their square footage for bigger, more comfortable sofas. – Megan Opel

The Style Boards: 

Small Spaces 101: Mistakes to Avoid When Designing for Tiny Rooms, Laurel & Wolf, Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.42.47 AM copy

Small Spaces 101: Mistakes to Avoid When Designing for Tiny Rooms, Laurel & Wolf, Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.42.56 AM copy


Mistake #3: Sacrificing Style

Small Spaces 101: Mistakes to Avoid When Designing for Tiny Rooms, Laurel & Wolf, small-apartment-design

Via Home Designing

Just because your space is small doesn’t mean it should lack the basic elements of a well outfitted room. Area rugs are a great way to define spaces and you can buy them in just about any size under the sun. If your living room ties into your kitchen, which ties into your dining room, use various area rugs to help “define” those spaces and give the illusion that there’s more square footage than there actually is. – Laurel Startzel 


Mistake #4: Staying Grounded

Small Spaces 101: Mistakes to Avoid When Designing for Tiny Rooms, Laurel & Wolf, cozy-brick-wall-design-in-small-apartment-design-with-simple-wall-shelves-above-sofa-as-well-glass-door-plus-vase-corner

Via Scape Wallpaper

​Small spaces love accessories too! It’s easy to fill up a small space with a sofa, arm chair and coffee table and think that it’s full, but you’re wrong! What about all of those walls? Use your vertical space to your benefit. You can find the most beautiful floating shelves and wall mounted storage options. Don’t neglect your vertical space–it’s priceless!​ – Laurel Startzel 

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