Step by Step Small Space Design

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Here in San Francisco we're quite familiar with small spaces, whether they are studio apartments, charming nooks, little landings or unique architectural alcoves. It may seem daunting at first to fit an entire office in the space of a closet - but with these tips you'll surely feel up for the challenge.


First, prioritize your home's function and energy. If you live in a small space, this is the time to determine the functionality of the space you do have. Have a small empty corner? Reflect back to your values, hobbies, interests and the energy you want the space to have. Depending on your needs, this tiny corner could turn into a painting nook, reading area, meditation spot or even a place to get some serious work done.

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Next, determine your style. It's important to maintain a common theme throughout your space, whether it be modern, bohemian or industrial (for example). A fusion of styles is great, but it must be consistent and considered in order to maintain flow.


Determine your floor plan: Divide your space into functional areas with choice of furniture and pieces. Play around and try some different layouts until you've found what makes sense in your space and feels functional for you. Sometimes it takes actually sitting in the arranged floor plan rather than mapping it out on paper.

Limit your color choices to colors that compliment each other. In small spaces, there is often not enough room to build completely separate color palettes. When choosing colors, think of palettes that are cohesive for the home as a whole. Design Seeds is great for color inspiration! Additionally, limit metal finishes to no more than two per space or room.


Purchase furniture that is multi-use; a coffee table that becomes a dining table, a coffee table that breaks into side tables, beds with storage drawers or sofas with storage compartments. You can even raise your existing bed on a platform to allow for pull out baskets or bins and hide those tucked belongings with a bed skirt. Consider floor to ceiling shelving to maximize space and go for custom made pieces and built-in's. Custom closet systems such as Elfa or Ikea are here to help. With small spaces, storage is key. 

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Go vertical: Utilize hooks - from hanging clothing to hanging dining room chairs and bicycles. In small spaces, utilizing wall space and going vertical can help accommodate items that simply don't have a home. These items are able to tuck away and clear floor space. Get rid of clutter (edit, edit, edit!) and make sure everything has a place.

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Mirror trick: Mirrors are a great way to bounce light and give the illusion of a bigger space. You can achieve this simply by hanging a wall mirror behind or across from a light source.

Layer lighting: If your space lacks natural light, layer in a variety of lighting such as floor lamps, table lamps and wall sconces. These fixtures will create a room full of light when needed, while also giving you the option of different lighting combinations depending on occasion, time of day and mood.

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Curtain tip: Floor to ceiling window treatments can help make your space seem visually larger and taller.

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We know small spaces can be tricky, (we like to think of them as small, but mighty!). Remember to map it out, consider color, go vertical and keep in mind your homes function. Don't be afraid of being bold or taking a risk. Statement walls (color or wallpaper) or art pieces can showcase your personality and keep things visually interesting!