August 19th, 2015

10 Expert Tips for Small Space Living

Small space living is not a new idea, nor is it uncommon. With the cost of housing in Metro Vancouver perpetually rising, many of us have no choice but to downsize or start off in a super small place in order to live anywhere close to Vancouver. Yes, those laneway homes look adorable and the micro studios downtown are almost like the ones in New York (almost, being the key word), but how do you keep 500 square feet of space or less comfortable, functional and stylish?  We have solutions!  Follow these 10 expert tricks and you are sure to have small space that you will love coming home to.


  1. Declutter — Your home is already small, why make it feel smaller? Go through all your stuff, pair it down and keep it under control. You really don’t have room to keep things that you don’t use on a regular basis. Rule of thumb, if you haven’t looked at something or used it in the last six months – chances are you won’t miss it, so purge!
  2. Stay Organized — There really is no option but to stay organized in a small space (otherwise you are sure to lose your mind, I know I would). Having a home for everything from your house keys, iPhone, books, seasonal clothing, etc. will have you stay calm cool and collected. Ever heard that saying a messy house is like a messy mind? A great local store is Room in Order. They can help with everything from food storage, entry organizers to cool gadgets like the Sanctuary4 which houses all your Bluetooth devices and looks great doing it!
  3. Simplicity — visually, we need space to feel at ease. No one really enjoys that claustrophobic feeling you get in a closet! There’s nothing wrong with having bold patterns or colors, but a lot in a small space can be overwhelming. Keep it minimal and use your favourite colors as accent pieces for a little punch. Maintaining a more neutral space will help create the illusion of a larger more cohesive space. For fun check out the line Hay available at Vancouver Special which makes some fun and colorful towels that could brighten any bathroom.
  4. Built-ins — If you plan on staying in your small space for a long time, it is worth investing in built-ins. This helps in utilizing every inch of space you have by creating furniture and storage that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Have you seen the videos of small spaces that transform to perform different functions? That’s what we’re talking about. Here’s one from Gizmodo that you should check out for inspiration. Resource Furniture specializes in small space and multi-functional furniture for condos and micro units.
  5. Utilize Vertical Space — a continuation of tip no.4; why not take the millwork or built-ins to the ceiling. I realize it’s not practical and hard to reach – but how often are you digging out that Halloween costume or Christmas decorations. It is extra space you would not have otherwise and is great for seasonal items.
  6. Keep it Light — Bright and airy spaces always feel bigger, that’s a fact. We love white (as mentioned in an earlier post (“Why I love White”)… but we especially love it in small spaces! It reflects light really well and you have the opportunity to play with textures and finishes without worrying about too much visual business. If white is still too clinical for you, mix in a lighter stained wood with a simple grain pattern such as oak.
  7. Reflect – Mirrors are a clever visual trick that always works. Often you will see it used in a long and narrow space to give the appearance of width that doesn’t actually exist. You can also use this principle in your tight corridors or nooks. Place a large one near your entry or behind some open built-in shelving to create the illusion of a bigger space. EQ3 offers some slim profile versions that aren’t too bulky.
  8. Double Duty Furniture — Banquette seating with storage underneath and open shelving that doubles as a room divider are examples of double duty furniture. These pieces can be custom made or even found at IKEA if you are working with a smaller budget. You just have to get creative!  There are also some really cool pieces on the market from Europe. One of our favourites from Italy is Clei. They offer unique systems and pieces that are not only functional but are also sleek. From wall beds and sofas to dining tables and desks, you are sure to be mesmerized. Who says your living room couldn’t also be your bedroom?
  9. Create Art Out of the Ordinary — Believe it or not, your everyday items can be art. Simple things such as a wall clock or a lamp can be statement pieces. Select these items carefully and combine them with the tips we have in our post “All You Need is Art” and your space will have some added character without the extra clutter of many little pieces of décor.
  10. Unobstructed Views — Chances are, your small space won’t have a lot of windows nor will they be expansive. Make the most of them by keeping them unobstructed. If you do have large windows that feature a spectacular view, don’t hide it! Access to natural light and views is important as it expands the space and keeps it from creating that tiny cabin-like feeling.


What inspires your small space? Share it with us using the hashtag #area3smallspace

Blog Post 11 - 10 Expert Tricks for Small Space Living