Working with Limited Space: Design Tips for Tight Areas

Working with Limited Space: Design Tips for Tight Areas


Designing a space can sometimes be a tricky obstacle. From selecting the right furnishings, to deciding on the best fixtures and finishes, these components are all important in shaping the overall aesthetic that a room can have.

However, the most important consideration that interior designers have to be mindful of is the space that they are working with. Often, an experienced interior designer would have knowledge working with both small and large spaces, and finding the best design solutions to make the most for these respective areas. But with space being the deciding factor in determining the final look of a space, individuals need to be mindful of the potential design limitations they may have.

This is not to say that smaller spaces are impossible to decorate, but they certainly require more attention to detail, and a skilled interior designer can provide their expertise to make the best use of design elements that can elevate and improve small spaces.

Beyond design, individuals need to be careful with smaller spaces, as psychologically, it can also have an impact on certain people who may have claustrophobia. Although very rare, there are some cases where an individual’s claustrophobia can make them feel uneasy in tight spaces. Knowing that interior design can play a pivotal role in affecting the mood of people, an interior designer can be mindful of this information to find the best design solutions for areas with limited space.

At Stewart-Schafer, we understand the importance of incorporating strategic design in small spaces to maximize the best use of space. While some may feel that a small space may not have a lot of potential, we feel the opposite. Design can certainly do wonders for any space, but with small spaces in particular, design is a crucial element that can result in making a space look larger than it is.

Whether you are decorating an apartment or condo, or a small attic or den in a house, there are certain design tips that you can keep in mind to make the best use of the space that is available. Although as previously mentioned, each space is unique, so not all of these strategies can work as a one size fits all approach. Each space requires a design plan of its own, but in this blog, we are sharing some general design tips that you can keep in mind when working in tight spaces.

Before Getting Started with Designing a Small Space

Many individuals need to remember that designing a space can come in various phases. Planning and coordinating the proper resources to ensure that you have the right strategy and items are essential in designing a space properly. In the pre-design phase, one of the most important things to consider is to remember what you wish to accomplish with the space that is being decorated - which is referred to as the program of space.

For example, when decorating a small apartment or condo unit, you have to be mindful that this is the entire space where an individual will be living. So with that in mind, you may want to look for furnishings that do not take up too much space, while still serving their function without taking away too much from being practical.

Alternatively, if you are decorating a small attic, you may want to consider what this attic will be used for. Are you decorating it to make it into another designated room - perhaps a study room or a playroom for kids? Depending on what you wish to do, this will influence what type of furnishings you may want to choose for the room.

With these two examples in mind, the program of space will certainly differ, but if you wish to tackle the designing tasks on your own, you need to remember to weigh the needs of the space in mind, and tie it to how it will be used by yourself or whoever will be using the space.

Another important thing to keep in mind would be the budget that you are working with.

For those who have a limited budget, it may be best to look for off-the-shelf solutions. These can include furnishings that you can purchase from stores, as well as other tools that can be used such as space organizers for drawers, and much more. This can be advantageous given the fact that it may not be costly, however, knowing that each space is unique, it may not always serve as the best solution as there could be times where the ideal furniture item you are looking for in a small space may not be available anywhere.

For those who may have the budget, or who may be willing to spend a little more, a custom solution may be the best approach if you are looking for something very specific to include in a room. Since smaller spaces can be a bit more challenging to decorate, a custom solution can make the best use of custom furnishings with the right dimensions to accommodate the needs of a given room. The only thing to be mindful of with custom solutions is that you need to balance your budget with the objective of a room, as it can be easy to get carried away with spending too much on just a single piece of furniture.

With the program of space and project budget being the two main considerations to keep in mind, it may be beneficial to consult with an interior designer to assess both of these needs in a room that you plan to decorate. A skilled interior designer will know how to think outside the box, and can often come up with innovative solutions for even the most challenging spaces to decorate.

Design Tips for Areas with Limited Space

In the absence of space, design is fundamental. Even though limited space may pose a challenge, it can actually force you to think more creatively with your design choices as they can have a tremendous impact on the appearance of the room.

However, designing a room with limited space is not impossible, and below are some general tips that you should keep in mind to make the most out of it.

Use Lighting Strategically

In one of our previous blogs, we discussed the importance of lighting and deciding between using natural or artificial lighting in a certain room. Lighting can play an important role in shaping the size perception of a room. Often, spaces that are well-lit and have ample lighting can give the illusion that it is much larger than it usually is. In contrast, spaces that are dark can look smaller than they are.

Make Use of Wall and Ceiling Space

In spaces that are tight, remember to decorate vertically rather than horizontally. If your space has plenty of wall room, make use of shelves and other organizers that make use of this space so that it does not clutter up other areas. For ceiling space, consider furnishings such as elevated beds or bunk beds which are multipurpose as they can offer extra storage compartments. You may even want to consider getting a wall bed if you live in a studio apartment, as this can be pulled out only when needed, and can make the best use of space.

Keep It Minimalist

The less clutter, the better. With limited space, it is important to have a minimalist mindset so that you only keep furnishings and accessories that are essential. This is not to say that a space has to be boring, but incorporating the principle of “less is more” is a great step in making sure that a room can be as roomy as possible.

Place Mirrors Strategically

One of the best design accessories to use in tight spaces are mirrors. This is because mirrors give an optical illusion that makes a space look larger than it looks. Think of decorative wall mirrors, or even full mirror walls that can be used in certain areas so that it can appear larger. A common example would be to use mirrors in sliding cabinets in a bedroom if you may not have enough room for a standing mirror.

While these are just some design suggestions for tight areas, there are plenty of other tips that are available. We know that designing a small space can be quite challenging, which is why it is important to select a well-experienced interior designer who is knowledgeable in designing areas with limited space.

If you have an interior design project in New York or Connecticut that requires some professional expertise, contact us today! We offer no obligations phone calls to answer any of your questions or concerns.

Stewart Schafer is an Interior and Architectural firm based in New York and Connecticut, click here to view some of our past projects and see how we can help.

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