Design Interior Design

14 Clever Layout Tricks to Maximize Your Living Space

Get the most out of your space with these designer tricks.
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Do More With Less

Just because you are short on space doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up and move. Professionals routinely use interior design tricks that make living spaces more efficient and make small spaces appear larger than they really are. Here are 14 design ideas and layout tricks that will make the most of your living area, whatever its size.


Decluttering is the simplest way to maximize your space. The fewer belongings you have, the larger your space will look. So, before you change around the layout of your living space, start by purging unnecessary items.

Related: 7 Ways to Declutter Without Throwing Anything Away

Use Multipurpose Furniture

Once you’ve decluttered, you need to figure out a way to keep your space tidy and organized. Fortunately, there are many creative furniture options that will help you stash the stuff you need in style. Look for pieces that offer something extra: coffee tables and trunks or ottomans with lift tops and hidden storage for blankets, or end tables and credenzas with drawers. These multipurpose furnishings will give you more storage without taking up too much valuable floor space.

Related: 11 Best Buys to Make Your Small Home Feel Big

Keep Things Moving

Before you start hauling around any furniture, you should figure out how you want people to navigate around the room. You need to allow enough space for people to travel comfortably into and out of the room as well as around the furniture. That means leaving about 30 inches around any pieces of furniture you need to be able to walk around. Allow 14 to 18 inches between a coffee table and sofa to keep items on the table within reach. 

Go Light

Dark colors absorb light, so if you’re trying to maximize the illusion of space, keep the walls and furniture neutral and light. These lighter colors help make the most of a room’s brightness because they reflect the light that enters a room. You can then bring in more vibrant colors with artwork, throw pillows, and other decor.

Related: 10 Unusual Tricks for Your Easiest-Ever Paint Job

Bounce Light

Strategic placement of mirrors is a tried-and-true designer trick for opening up a space. Mirrors make a room appear larger by reflecting the surrounding space, and they can be carefully placed to reflect natural light sources as well, making a small living space brighter.

Get Curvy

Round tables are easier to navigate around than their more angular cousins, and they use space efficiently. Place small round tables between chairs and sofas, or opt for a generous round or oval table in the dining room. If you are super tight on space in your living room, invest in a set of nesting tables that stack away nicely and provide extra surfaces when needed.

Scale Down

To make a room seem larger, scale down the size of the furniture. For instance, use a love seat instead of a sofa or sectional. The smaller pieces will fit the room better and open up floor space. 

Hang ‘Em High

Even if your space isn’t blessed with 12-foot ceilings, you can create the illusion of height by drawing the eye upward. One way is to hang pictures two or three inches above eye level. Another trick is to hang curtain rods higher up instead of at the level of the window frame. Both strategies will give the impression of a larger, grander room.

Go Vertical

Floor-to-ceiling shelves or even a collection of suspended wall shelves can also draw the eye up, with the added benefit of providing storage space. Tall shelving, bookcases, and built-ins offer a stylish and functional place to display artwork, collectibles, and other decorative items. To keep the shelves from appearing cluttered, use baskets to conceal utilitarian items. 

Make Use of Corners

Corners are notoriously underused spaces with plenty of potential, so make the most of them. They’re excellent spots for a reading nook consisting of an armchair, table, and floor lamp. As another option, consider purchasing a shelf or a small piece of furniture designed to fit snugly in a corner to make use of the space and gain some storage to boot.

Open It Up

Smaller spaces benefit from furniture with an open design, so look for bookshelves, dressers, nightstands, and other furnishings with lighter silhouettes. Choosing these airier, visually smaller pieces creates a sense of expansiveness in a room and lets in more natural light—and the more light, the bigger the space feels. 

Make Things Clear

Transparent furniture, such as acrylic or glass coffee tables, upholstered stools with transparent legs, or clear acrylic armchairs, gives a sense of openness to a room and permits light to flow freely through a space. If transparent furniture is a touch too modern for your liking, consider buying furniture with exposed legs to make your room feel brighter and less tight or cluttered.

Define Areas

Rugs are fun and practical decorative accessories because they not only add a pop of color and interest, but they also help define a functional area within a larger space. Placing an area rug in a section of a room draws the eye, cushions the feet, and suggests a purpose for that space. When you create distinct areas in a room, you enhance its functionality and make more efficient use of the space. 

Related: 20 Area Rugs You Can Actually Afford

Take Center Stage

Just because rooms have walls doesn’t mean that you have to push all your furniture up against them. Floating the furniture in a room, or putting a piece right in the middle, can give the illusion of a more generous space. Use an area rug to define a section of a room, then position furniture around it to visually mark the perimeter of this cozier space. 

Make the Space

A few designer tricks can help you get the most out of your space.