Homes That Make the Most of Skimpy Square Footage, Pt. 2

by Kelli Kehler

Last year it was clear that many of you took great inspiration from our study of homes on the smaller side, and we can’t blame you. Some of the most awe-inspiring design moments we’ve seen here at Design*Sponge have been in the tiniest of spaces — and the homeowners we’ve featured didn’t let skimpy square footage keep them from making a huge impact.

In all reality, many of us have small spaces to work with, so it’s no wonder we look to these tiny-but-mighty home tours to show us design hacks for making our ceilings look taller, our storage work harder, and our living areas more functional. Here we have a whole second crop of new favorite homes that let design shine in tight quarters. —Kelli

Image above: This 619-square-foot home in Los Angeles goes big on pattern to make each room feel larger. The key here in the bedroom is using a wallpaper with a softer pattern and more muted color palette; clutter-free, small-scale side tables keep the room feeling clean and airy.


In the same LA home, bold wallpaper is once again employed — this time to define the dining space and make it feel removed from the kitchen. In the kitchen, floating shelves feel less bulky than cabinets while still corralling items for daily use. In the dining room beyond, a bistro table and small stools create an eating area in a tight space.


In this mid-century modern pied-á-terre in Portland, OR, a custom-built wall unit houses prized belongings without taking up valuable square-footage elsewhere in the small home.


The same home plays with scale for a fun look that keeps this room feeling more open. Lower shelving and larger lamps make the walls feel taller.


Appropriate scale plays a big role in this midwestern bungalow, too. Here, a large piece of artwork roughly the same width as the two doorways flanking it is anchored by two interesting lamps, creating visual harmony. By washing the space in a mostly white palette and peppering in darker accent pieces and a focal design moment between the doors, the room feels spacious and grand.


Houseboats undoubtedly have cramped quarters, but the renters of this 485-square-foot one in the Netherlands use that to their advantage. In this tiny bedroom, textures are layered in heavily to play up coziness.


This 800-square-foot Brighton, UK home uses contrasting colors, a beautiful mirror, and vertical shelving to amplify the space’s existing square footage.


The same Brighton home’s bedroom has a sweet headboard that offers more storage space for favorite items.


Wallpaper designer Sian Zeng’s 770-square-foot loft feels spacious and airy thanks to its wall of windows, but she’s also careful not to weigh the space down with heavy furniture. Lightweight furnishings fill the room, and a chosen blush color scheme keeps the design cohesive.


Sian’s bedroom is tight on square footage, so deep bedside dressers were chosen to offer more storage space. A small light fixture sits on top in place of a bulkier lamp.


Owners of a 900-square-foot San Francisco apartment can entertain easily in their smaller space thanks to their clever pairing of this bistro table with a banquette.


This floral designer’s home utilizes a small, circular ottoman in place of a coffee table, keeping the room more open and offering a seating alternative.


The beautiful and light-filled home of Ronni Nicole utilizes every inch of its 650 square feet — here in the kitchen, shelving was added to the window in lieu of curtains.


Talk about skimpy square footage — Paula Guzman’s shared space in a Brooklyn brownstone measures just 250 square feet. She expertly designed the space to feel open and bright, playing up the home’s architectural features by stacking artwork vertically and using lightweight window treatments.


Jerrelle Guy’s 350-square-foot loft in Boston maintains a cool vibe while letting the view shine at the same time with low-to-the-floor seating. The modular shelving offers ample storage space without imposing too much on the small room.


Last but not least, our own Rebekah Carey’s home is a study in small living: she and her husband converted the 500-square-foot garage of her grandma’s house into their home. Multipurpose furnishings are the name of the game in her space — like this side table with a drop leaf that can be small and compact or serve as the hub for bigger projects.

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  • I love small homes. No bowling alley for me. The creative use of a small space is inviting and cozy. Sian’s bedroom is my favorite of these examples – the wallpaper, the plants, the lamp, the colors all work together to create a special space.