Interior Storage

11 Genius Storage Ideas and Design Tips for Small-Space Living

Working with limited square footage? These design tips and small space storage ideas can help you make the most of every inch of every room—and make your rooms look bigger.
A furnished living room with natural light.

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Studio apartments, or even 3-bedroom homes your family has outgrown, can feel cramped and cluttered. Figuring out how to make the most of too-little space is no easy task. But there’s plenty that those short on space can do to organize items, streamline furniture, adjust the layout, and decorate to make a room look bigger. These small space storage ideas and design tips can help you make the most of your limited square footage.

1. Using Multifunctional Furniture

Bench at the end of the bed used for storage.

Photo: Amazon

In a small space, use furniture pieces that do double duty. For example, place a lofted bed with a desk underneath to maximize a bedroom’s space. Or add an ottoman in the living area that doubles as a storage cube for blankets. Place a wooden chest or bench at the foot of your bed and use it to store clothing and blankets, or provide extra seating.

If you think your place is too small for a home office, think again. Beautiful and functional, an armoire-turned-home-office might be just the fun and functional piece to remedy your spatial dilemma.

2. Select Your Furniture Carefully

A blue hallway side table with long furniture legs.

Photo: Wayfair

Carefully selecting furniture isn’t just about finding pieces that double as storage—pieces with certain features can make a space seem larger. Furniture made of lucite or glass looks less bulky than traditional wood pieces, and the transparency offers a clean, modern appearance. As a result, a space that once felt cluttered and clunky will instead feel airy and light.

And here’s another design secret: Furnishings that are upholstered all the way to the floor can swallow up a room quickly. In a small space, opt for couches and tables that are supported by slim legs, because they will appear lighter. The more floor you can see, the bigger the room feels, which is a reason to edit out unnecessary visual clutter near the floor.

3. Make Your Rooms Multifunctional

A bookshelf used as a room divider.

Photo: Modern Shelving

A room can become multifunctional, too. Carve out distinct zones for various functions and maximize your layout by using every inch of both floor and wall space. You might combine a kitchen or dining area and an office, for example, or tuck an exercise bike into a corner of your main living space for a living room/gym combo. Consider using a strategically placed bookcase as a room divider; it will serve double duty as a storage device for books, magazines, and artwork, while delineating distinct spaces.

4. Move Stuff Up

Young woman cleanis up the mess in the closet.

Photo: Getty Images

When there’s no more room to spread out, spread up. Take advantage of every inch of vertical space and make the room feel more open by incorporating tall cabinets or stacked shelves into your space. Draw visitors’ eyes upward by keeping decorative accessories on top shelves. Fill the lower ones with items that are used frequently but still need to be stored.

5. Add an Unexpected Element

Large vertical piece of art on living room wall.

Photo: Artextured

Emphasize whatever assets your small space has by creating unexpected but eye-pleasing focal points. Consider a brightly patterned rug, for example, or a tall, vertical piece of art that adds height to the room.

6. Find Spots for Shelves or Hooks

Floating shelves in bathroom.


If your bathroom is feeling cramped, you can create extra storage space by mounting a shallow ledge near the sink. Use it to hold lotions, face wash, toothbrushes, and other items you use daily; store the rest of your toiletries in decorative baskets or out of sight. Additionally, make sure you have adequate towel bars and hooks to organize hanging items.

7. Keep Colors Light

Light colored bedroom with natural light.

Photo: IKEA

Light interior paint colors give the illusion of being in a larger room. Painting your walls in a pristine white or a sunny yellow is an easy fix that makes a room seem airier and more open. Colors that reflect light can capitalize on the natural light from windows.

8. Try Hanging Storage

Copper pots hanging from kitchen wall.

Photo: BrassCopperPure via Etsy

Save counter and cupboard space in a small kitchen by hanging pots and pans directly on the walls in the kitchen. Wall-mounted pot racks are an excellent option, or you can make one of your own with a pegboard and hooks.

9. Reflect on Mirrors

A large mirror behind a white modern chair.

Photo: The Home Depot

Borrow a trick from the world of magic by placing a large decorative mirror behind a sofa or bed. The mirror frames the furniture and instantly creates the illusion of a much larger space. You can also hang mirrors on the walls in a small room to make it feel lighter and brighter. Don’t be afraid to use more than one. While you might want to avoid placing them directly across from one another, combining wall mirrors with mirrored furniture is a great way to make a small space feel larger.

10. Swap in Sliding Doors

White barn door hanging on an upper rail doubles as a bookcase.

Photo: Wayfair

Traditional doors require a significant footprint to allow for their swing. Consider swapping French doors or even a single door for the sliding type, like surface-mounted barn-type doors or pocket doors, if the structure of your space permits.

11. Embrace Natural Light

Sheer blinds to let natural light in the dining room.

Photo: The Shade Store

Even a small room will appear large when flooded with natural light. If you have few windows, consider installing blinds or shades that soften rather than block the light. Also, avoid large pieces of furniture that can prevent light from filtering through the space.