The Tiny house Blog

Decorating Your Small Space: What to Do (And What Not to Do)

Updated on:
June 9, 2023
nice looking interior design

Are you joining the tiny living trend? Whether you're getting ready to move into a studio apartment, a van, or a true tiny house, this is an exciting time! Are you ready for your big move?

Many people don't consider how challenging it is to move into a smaller space. You have to design things in a whole new way, and you'll be doing some serious downsizing so you can fit your belongings in a small space!

We're here to offer you a few small space design tips to get you started. Read on to learn more.

Use Multi-Purpose Furniture

Multi-purpose or multi-use furniture will be your best friend when you move into a small space. One of the best interior design tips that we can offer is to use versatile furniture that's both stylish and functional.

Whether you're living in a van, a tiny house, or even a small apartment, you need to have furniture items that can adapt to your needs. You no longer have room for items that only serve one purpose. Almost any item can be multi-purpose now, but you will have to do some searching on the web to find the right pieces for your home.

These pieces should be committed to functions that are necessary for your home. For example, couches that double as storage for decor items and more. Pieces such as modern sideboards and buffets can be used as storage and display cabinets. There are many ways to get further use out of the more conventional furniture in your home.

Start simple with desks and tables. As long as you don't have a desktop computer, you can use your desk as your dining table and vice versa. A small dining table has more than enough room for both purposes.

If you do have a desktop computer, or you need a separate working space to stay focused, we recommend a floating desk. You can put the desk in a closet to conserve room (more on that later), or you can put it on hinges so it can be tucked away when you no longer need it.

Use couches that double as beds and seats that double as storage. Get creative!

Be Strategic With Storage

While you're looking for multi-use furniture, start looking for storage options that will suit your small space design.

When it comes to storing things, you want to take up as little room as possible. It's easy for small homes to become overburdened with drawers and boxes, and it's not as easy to hide these things as it would be in a larger home.

First, start with the multi-use items that we discussed before. If you have the option to pick a piece of furniture that also has storage, do so. Some beds have storage underneath and it's common to find benches and ottomans that open up into roomy storage areas.

When it comes to your kitchen and pantry area, take advantage of all of your usable space by stacking objects and keeping things organized. Consider using dividers for cabinets and drawers.

It's always good to have excess storage when you live in a small home as long as you can keep it hidden. Storage will prevent clutter.

Use Vertical Space

Are you running out of room on the floor? Always remember to take advantage of any and all vertical space that you have to work with. You don't have the luxury of ample floor space in a small home!

Instead of standard shelves that sit on the floor, opt for floating shelves. These are great places to store books and decorations. They can also be functional if you choose to use them for clothing, food items, or bathroom necessities.

Bonus: using vertical space is also fantastic for people who are living with cats in tiny houses. Cats love to be high up, so vertical space is no less valuable to them than your floor space.

Multi-Use Spaces Will Help

While we've already discussed multi-use furniture, multi-use spaces are also crucial for people who live in truly tiny places. You don't have the option to turn a room into a home office or have a full dining room!

Transforming your bed into a couch or sitting area during the day can turn your bedroom into your living room. Moving your dining table out of the way, or repurposing it, between meal times will free up room.

Consider turning a large closet into a workspace. You can keep all of your belongings in there (as long as they're not in the way), but put a folding floating desk inside so you have somewhere private and separate to work.

Dividing Your Space: Yes or No?

When it comes to multi-use spaces, should you divide them up, or leave them as-is?

There are pros and cons to both of these. Different people prefer different methods, so you may want to try both out before committing to your interior design plan.

If you're going to divide your space, we recommend using shelves, curtains, or rugs.

Use shelves that are open on both sides to add style and function to your living space. They're great for putting on one side of a bed for a bit of added privacy.

In place of standard solid room dividers, consider putting up curtain rods throughout your home. This is a great way to give yourself plenty of room-dividing options that you can mix and match whenever you need to.

Rugs may not seem like good room dividers, but in reality, they can make a huge difference. Placing a rug under your dining area, for example, can make it more distinct from your bed area.

Use Bright Colors

If you're someone who loves to use deep and dark tones when you're decorating, you might want to reconsider. By using dark colors, you're making your home look even smaller!

Instead, opt for bright and cohesive colors. White, pastel colors, and even bold accent colors will make your home feel roomier.

If you still want to use deep and dark colors, use them as accessories. A burgundy statement wall in an all-white room will be impactful without making your home look too much smaller.

Use dark colors for accessories, like throw pillows and frames.

Bring in Plenty of Light

Speaking of keeping things light and bright, a well-lit home is always going to look larger.

If you have plenty of windows, take advantage of them. Place your furniture strategically so that you never block a window. You want the light to be able to flow throughout your home.

Keep plenty of lighting fixtures around your home for when it gets dark outside. We recommend ceiling lights so you can make the most of your space. Warm lights may make your home look smaller, so keep that in mind when you're choosing lightbulbs.

Of course, skylights are always a great option. If you're in the designing phase of your tiny home journey this is much easier but you can also install skylights in to finished homes with the help of a qualified roofer.

Mirrors Are Your Friend

Adding more lights isn't the only way to keep your home looking bright and large. You can trick the eye by using mirrors in strategic locations.

Mirrors serve two purposes when it comes to making your home look larger.

First, they bounce light around. If you place mirrors near your windows, you'll have a brighter room by default. Mirrors also provide artificial "depth" to a room.

Keep It Minimal

In a large home, you can be a maximalist. While you can still overstuff your small home with all of your favorite trinkets, it will make your home look smaller. Maximize your space by minimizing your style.

Stick to sleek and trendy furniture that all shares a single style or aesthetic. Avoid any single piece of furniture that takes up too much space.

While you can (and should) add decorations to your home, don't overload the room with them. A few large plants can be more impactful than a wall full of photos or art prints (though you can still use photos and art prints in your design plans).

Avoid Clutter

Again, in a large home, clutter is easier to avoid and ignore. It builds up slowly over time until you realize that a single corner of your living room is now hidden by a pile of stuff.

When you live in a small space, this isn't the case. Even a few stray items look like clutter when you don't have a lot of room to work with. You'll notice that small homes look messier fast.

So how do you avoid clutter?

First, before you move into a small space, declutter. You're downsizing, so you can have as many things as you would in a conventional or larger home. Go through all of your things and make sure that you're only taking things with you that you use or need.

When you're in your small home, make sure that everything has a place. Label these places if you have to. Never buy a new item without getting rid of another so that the new item will take its place.

Things to Avoid

So with all of these tips in mind, what shouldn't you do when it comes to designing your small space? You can't do things right if you don't know what not to do.

Here are a few common mistakes that people make when it comes to small space design.

Staying Too Conventional

Most people never have to be too creative when they're furnishing and decorating their new homes. They have plenty of space to work with, so they have more freedom.

By sticking with a conventional design mindset, you're setting yourself up for home design failure. You need to get creative and think outside of the box when you're planning your interior design.

You have to think about your home in terms of both a room and an entire house. It will be serving both purposes. This requires that you learn to think about space in a whole new way.

Using Oversized Furniture

Do you love your California king bed? What about the plush oversized armchair that you've had since you moved out on your own? It's time to retire these things in favor of smaller alternatives.

Sure, oversized furniture is comfortable, but it takes up far too much room for a small house.

This is where multi-use furniture comes in. You might only be using a futon instead of a standard couch, but when you want a larger sitting area, you can unfold it. It might not be quite the same as having the plush couch that you're used to, but it's far more functional in a small home.

Not Planning Ahead

If you want to have a well-designed small space, you need to do all of your planning ahead of time. You don't have enough room to make too many adjustments once your furniture is already in place.

If possible, measure your space before you start furnishing it. Take those measurements with you when you're furniture shopping.

Consider using a home design game or app to map out your perfect space. It won't be an exact representation of your small home, but it might be enough to give you a good idea of what you have to do to make the small home work for you.

Good design always requires proper planning, so skipping this step is a big mistake.

Designing a Small Space? No Problem

Moving into a small space comes with plenty of challenges, but learning how to design it is a lot of fun. You're going to have to learn whole new ways to think about a home, but that's part of the joy of living in a compact space.

Remember: keep it minimal, keep it bright, and stay innovative. You might not get it right the first time, but if you stick with it, you'll have a cozy and functional home in no time.

Are you getting ready to downsize? Check out our tiny home listings to find your dream home today!

Did you enjoy this post and find value in it? Share it with your friends with the links below!

Need more info? Get

By submitting your email, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms

Subscribe to get the latest news

This is a new way to communicate faster than any communication platforms

Thank you!
Your submission has been received! Check your inbox for an email from with more info!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again or email us at Thanks!
Want all the latest tiny house inspo and news?

Get free resources, updates, tips & tricks, and special offers by joining the Tiny House Plan Newsletter.

No items found.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers — straight from the author — for the most common questions about this article.

Don't see your question here? Contact us!
No items found.

Join The Tiny House Community

Occasionally: Community Events, DIY Tips and Tricks, Tiny House Guides
Never: Junk or Spam and we don't sell or misuse your email.
Welcome to the fam! We're excited to have you join the community.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again or use the form below.