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Tips & Hacks

Interior Design Hack: Designing for Small Spaces

by The Brownstone Boys|Jun 04, 2021

Everyone’s got one. That small and possibly awkward space that just isn’t nearly as functional or beautiful as you would like it to be. Maybe it’s a tiny powder room or a guest bath. Is it your kitchen or office? Or maybe it’s your entire apartment! Any room or home that is short of square footage can be a challenge to design. How do you squeeze every bit of space out of it without a cluttered look? Whether you are renovating or rearranging, we have some tips!

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An unused wall with radiators becomes a special feature to tuck away books and other items.

Customize Your Storage

Off-the-shelf storage solutions are great but only go so far. If you want to truly use every inch of space you’ll need to take it a step farther. Basically, it comes down to creating space for the way you live and work. If you’re an inspiring chef have an organization for your spices and gadgets, if you’re a book or record collector have dedicated storage that makes you comfortable to continue collecting, if you’re a designer or artist have space to organize your brushes, pencils, tools, and a workspace that keeps you inspired. Use space under seating, above cabinets, or behind or above doors, there are a few options you likely haven’t considered. If you have a space that is too shallow for an off-the-shelf unit building, shallow storage can be incredibly useful for the right items.

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Use the height of the room to build in more storage like these 10ft tall closet units

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The inside of the 10ft closet system- tons of storage!

Build Up

In New York City, where some spaces lack square footage they make up for it in ceiling height. Build up! If you can’t reach it, store things that you don’t use often like the expensive juicer that takes half a cabinet that we got 5 years ago and used 5 times. Or have a step stool or attractive ladder on the ready when you need it.

Closet Culture

If you are lacking in closet space (who isn’t!) make sure you are squeezing every inch of space out of it. Invest in a closet organizing system to turn your small closet into something that rivals many walk-ins. If you have a standard 48” wide closet and install double handling in ¾” of it, you now have 7 feet of hanging space. Maybe there is room to squeeze in a shelf or 2 and possibly some of our favorites, coat hooks!

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A recessed niche and nook will give any room extra character! It’s also a great use of space.

Nooks and Niches

You might know that we love a niche! They just make so much sense. If you’re renovating and building a wall, it costs nothing (or very little) to take advantage of the space in the wall and build it with a niche. We’re fans of putting them in the bathroom by vanity, or in a bedroom over or next to the bed, or in a hallway where the walls are almost always useless. Books and other items can be tucked away and you can eliminate the need for additional pieces of furniture.

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We utilize our kitchen island and dining room table as both an eating area and a workspace.

Dual Purpose Furniture

Don’t crowd your room when you can have furniture that can do double duty. A dining table can double as a desk with a long bench seat that can tuck neatly under when not needed. Keep the seating flexible. Your living room likely doesn’t always need seating for 10. Floor poofs that tuck under a coffee table can easily be pulled out to squeeze in the guests (post-pandemic obvi).

Declutter and Purge

Get your Kondo on and purge! If you don’t wear something or use it over the course of a year, do you really need it? Do you have too much stuff? Have a stoop sale. Invite your friends and maybe some of your stuff you may not want to part with will find a nice new home and you can visit. Remember, less is more!

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Adding directional lighting can help define space and make it look bigger and more interesting.


Don’t underestimate the role lighting can play in helping your space appear larger and more appealing. Especially when combined with the above-mentioned recommendations. If you layer lighting it can help define areas within the room and make it feel cozier and more purposeful. A single-center light fixture creates a bland generic space. Instead, install a library lamp over a shelf or picture, use a reading lamp in a corner, or use a directional pendant that creates a pool of light over a table.

Your space might not be sprawling but it doesn’t mean that it has to feel cramped. Smart storage, furniture, renovation, and lighting choices can create a very comfortable and cozy space you won’t mind sharing with your stuff!

This article was written by Jordan and Barry, aka the Brownstone Boys.

Meet the Authors

Jordan and Barry are passionate about renovation, restoration, and design. They own a 130-year-old Brooklyn Brownstone and take us on their journey of restoring it.

The Brownstone Boys found that the best real estate, renovation, and design advice were found directly from other creative blogs, so they hope to inspire others with their content as well! 

Follow along with Jordan and Barry on Instagram and their blog! You won't want to miss out!

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