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Home design trends for small spaces

Just because a living space is small doesn't mean it can't feel big and be thoughtfully and tastefully designed. But doing so requires a bit of creativity and consideration that larger spaces might not. The limits of a smaller space can be a blessing, forcing you into critical thinking about the space you do have. This is a world of natural light, bold patterns, multi-functionality, and more. It's a place to have fun, to get cozy, to push the limits (and the very notion of square footage).

Don't compromise, create. Here are six design trends specifically focused to make your smaller space feel more expansive.

Read more: Ready to upgrade to a larger space? Check out the 2023 housing outlook .

1. One space, two jobs

Even a small space can have multiple functions. In fact, there's an argument to be made that the smaller the space, the more it needs to be multipurpose. This is much easier today than it was when a modest-sized TV would swallow up a studio apartment. These days, you can hang your smart television on the wall and use the space previously allocated to a TV stand, cable box, DVD player, etc. and instead store exercise equipment and set up or a bar cart. Now you can entertain and exercise in the same space—and your guests won’t even know you do Pilates where you just poured a nice glass of pinot noir. 

2. Let there be light

Natural light is your friend. It enhances sleep patterns, improves mood, inspires Vitamin D production and tightens focus. It can also make a smaller space appear and feel larger. If you’re able to undertake a renovation, consider replacing smaller windows with larger ones. If you're not up for such a big project, figure out where the light comes into the house and increase the effect with white or reflective surfaces. Move that light around and make magic (and the illusion of more space). 

3. A paint job

If natural light isn't an option, you can always do a bit of paint hacking. Brightening up the walls will transform that cave-like room into a sprawling pad. (Okay, it might not have that much of an effect, but we promise it will help the space feel simultaneously cozy and spacious.) 

You might not even need to paint the room entirely. Strategic re-painting—an accent wall here, a cut out there—can have outsized impacts. And don't forget to consider other details such as fixtures and molding, too. Giving those a refresh can create a feeling of increased square footage.

4. Asymmetry is your friend

Humanity is preconditioned to expect symmetry. But symmetry can also mean taking up space since you feel like you need two of everything. While a lack of symmetry might feel a bit, well, unnatural, it can have benefits in making things appear larger than they are. 

That couch-side table doesn't need a corresponding partner. A bookshelf can stand alone. Sometimes, one chair is enough. With intelligent asymmetry, the world opens up and small spaces feel larger. 

5. Get low (seating)

A couch is a couch is a couch, right? Well, not entirely. A couch that's lower to the ground takes up less space than one with longer legs. The size of a space isn't simply two dimensional.

When it comes to small spaces, the volume of a piece of furniture matters as much as the footprint. And low furniture means smaller volume, giving a room the feeling of being bigger because there is more open air. Don't be afraid to play with this concept, either. Maybe pair a low couch with a higher chair for a bit of—you guessed it—asymmetry. 

6. Mix and match

A theme throughout these tips is one about tricking the eye and the mind. A bit of distraction and a smidge of spatial confusion can go a long way toward the small seeming and feeling larger. In the smallest spaces, say a bathroom or a closet, mixing bold patterns can create this type of obfuscation.

The key is to draw the viewer's attention away from the actual size of the space and allow them to get lost in the visuals themselves. You can't make a bathroom bigger, but you can make it appear roomier. 

These six tips will make your space feel larger until you can upgrade to a bigger place.

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