Dream Small: How to Design for Small Spaces

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Hi there! I am Coco of the COCOCOZY blog. I am so honored to be here on Interior Collective today. My topic this go around is Dream Small!

Small is the new big in my view! I live in a very tiny cottage in the Hollywood Hills. When I bought my house, I never imagined I would be living in 700 square feet for years and years – I thought it was just my starter home. I dreamed I would be moving to a mansion within a short amount of time. Well, the mansion has not appeared; and I, like so many others, have made the best of my small home. Now I dream small and love it. It has been fun trying to figure out the tricks of making a smaller space functional and pretty. Here are a few of my design suggestions for those of you who have chosen to DREAM SMALL like me.

1. Sectional Savvy

Small Living Room Decor
Image: Anson Smart

For your living room, if you live in a small space, consider a sectional. In the past, when I heard the term sectional sofa, I immediately thought of huge gigantic family rooms; big enormous screen TV’s, and tall guys eating popcorn and drinking beer with a sporty dog right next to them. That was the past. Now, I think of sectional sofas as compact, sleek, modern forms of seating for chic living spaces. If you are dealing with a narrow space or a small room, instead of having multiple chairs and sofas, use a one unit sectional sofa to provide all of your seating.

2. Floating Shelves

Kitchen Shelving
Image: New York Times

In a small kitchen, heavy upper cabinets can make the space feel closed in and cramped. If you are rethinking your kitchen design, consider using floating shelves for your upper cabinets. These wall mounted shelves take up less room than traditional kitchen cabinetry. Food for thought... right?

3. Go Clear

Clear Furniture

Image: Ingerstedt

Living Room
Image: Arkpad

Visual clutter is the biggest problem in a small space. When I say ‘visual clutter,’ I’m talking about all of the lines, colors, patterns and textures that naturally inhabit a room. While walls, flooring, furniture, lighting, and accessories can all create visual interest, they, at the same time, also create the potential for visual clutter. When choosing furniture, try finding a clear piece or two. Lucite (the chic way of saying acrylic) or glass furniture can help eliminate visual clutter in a small room. Use of even just one clear piece can allow you to have a little more freedom with your design.

You can make the best of your small living space! It can look good and feel good too. I hope these tips have been helpful. Look forward to sharing more design ideas soon. Hope you have a great day.


What are some effective ways you have found to design small?? Comment below for a chance to win a COCOCOZY pillow!

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  1. Even in small spaces don’t sacrifice comfort. Trying to cram lots of small pieces of furniture into a small room just makes it look cluttered! Instead, use only a few larger pieces. More practical, and it gives a small room the illusion of being larger! A sectional sofa is a great idea! I’ve been looking for one for my own small apartment. 🙂

  2. Andrea Elliott, It is best to keep the color palete clean and crisp. Keeping the color scheme in neutrals keeps the eye moving. Gray’s, whites, creams, are a great start….For small studies, I use a lucite desk or ghost chair.

  3. Living in NYC for over a decade forces you to think small! Design vertically! use floating shelves! to bring your eyes up! Also, buy furniture pieces that can be mutli-functional (e.g., ottomans that have storage and/or can be used as a coffee table, dining tables that can also function as a home office, stools which can be tucked under consoles or other areas and can used when have guests over). Artwork on the different walls forces your eyes to wander around the room. I have employed all of “tricks”… 🙂 I also couldn’t have agreed more with the use of Lucite or plexiglass.

  4. Thank you for the great tips. Any suggestions on how to tastefully design an office/guest bedroom combo? I don’t want guests feeling like they’re sleeping in my office, and I really don’t want to feel as if I am working in a bedroom. Thank you!

  5. I like your perspective on sectional couches. Some tricks that have helped me are: using the thin felt hangers instead of plastic ones to save space, having an expandable kitchen/dining room table that can stay small but accommodate larger groups when necessary, and finding bed sets with storage compartments underneath.

  6. keep to room scale and focus on neutrals….punctuate with a pop of complementing color or go bold with contrasting brights. clean & simple is what i’ve found to be best way to make the most out of small spaces

  7. I apply the more bang for your buck principle! Fewer pieces that make a statement and are multifunction that think outside of the small box so to say are key!

  8. Have mobile pieces so you can rearrange for different situations.

  9. The most effective way I have found to design small is to use everything in the room to its utmost advantage. My ottoman is also storage, a table for when I want to be lazy and eat in front of the tv and a dog bed (I clean it before I eat off of it; I can’t help it the pups love it!).. Another example would be the ‘dining table’ which is an actual dining table for when guests are over but converts to a workspace as it has shelving above it with magazine files with everything I could need to be productive. I use everything in my small space in at least 2 ways. This allows for me to feel accomplished, stylish and NOT a hoarder of furniture (because I want everything!)

  10. Less furniture and not too bulky. Light colors help as well.

  11. The best way I have found to ‘design small’ is to clear your house of clutter and keep your designs clean. It’s amazing what good organization can do for a space.

  12. Love the clear desk and chair paired with the bookshelves!

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Coco, founder of COCOCOZY interior design blog and home furnishings collection, loves anything to do with creating beautiful, functional spaces for the home. Coco started her blog back in 2008 with a simple goal of providing design inspiration to her readers. Three years after starting the blog, she created a luxury home textiles collection that she designs and manufactures here in the U.S.