Helpful Hints for Small Room Arrangements

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Small spaces can be tricky to decorate. You can spend hours scrolling through Pinterest, gathering your inspiration for your compact quarters, only to find that in practice you feel extremely limited. Whether you’re in a full-blown tiny home, a small apartment or just have a room in your home that’s short on square footage, we can help. We asked our Freshome team for their top tips on small room arrangements. Here are 12 helpful hints you’ll actually be able to use in your small space.

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Floating shelves and high-hung window coverings draw the eye up, making the space feel larger. Image: ThreeDiCube/Shutterstock

Think lofty

When you don’t have a lot of space along the x-axis of a room, think about the y-axis. Using your walls well can transform your room.

Float some shelves

In a small space, it can be hard to find a balance between overcrowding the room with furniture and it looking sparse. If you’re streamlining your furniture but still want the space to feel structured and designed, floating shelves are ideal. The Walnut Floating Shelves from The Container Store are perfect for displaying your favorite art and decor pieces while keeping table surfaces clear.

Get large-scale art

Again, just because you don’t want to crowd the room with stuff doesn’t mean you want it to look spartan. You can dress up even the simplest room with large wall art. If your room is especially small, swap a bold, graphic art piece for a large mirror. It will bounce light around the room, helping it feel bigger.

Elevate your window coverings

Help your room feel larger by drawing the eye up to your ceilings. When you hang your window coverings, hang the rod near the top of the wall. The long line of drapery helps the room feel more expansive.

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A single large piece of furniture can anchor your small space. Image: Ruben Ramos/Getty Images

Think big

It’s a small room, so you should only put small items in it, right? Au contraire. Thinking big can help you transform your small space.

Add one large furniture piece

Confusing, we know. Why would you add something that’s going to take up a lot of your precious square footage? The answer lies in the feel of the room. Too many small-scale pieces can make the room feel cluttered and unanchored. Adding one large focal piece – whether that’s a comfortable sofa or a centering entertainment center – makes the room feel established.

Throw down a big rug

A light-colored, softly patterned rug can help brighten and soften your space, while also helping you delineate sections. Set a rug like West Elm’s Foil Diamonds Distressed Rug under the dining table or coffee table to create a sense of purpose for the space. Voilà! The rug delineates the area, clarifying its use.

Take a step back

When you’re designing a small room, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. But thinking big ensures you end up with a room in which you’ll actually want to spend time. Look at the room as a whole. If it’s still feeling small and cramped, make changes that will have a big impact, like lightening the wall color or adding more lighting to each corner.

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A multitasking ladder serves as wall art and blanket storage. Image:

Think utilitarian

In a small space, each item needs to pull its own weight. This is a time to think smart and get sneaky.

Hide storage

A small space needs storage. When your space is compact, the last thing you want is to have unwanted items sitting out, right in your eye line. While bigger spaces might be more forgiving, little rooms keep everything in plain sight. That is, unless you get creative. Look for furniture with hidden storage. West Elm has a Stacked Disk Coffee Table with a hidden compartment inside, while Pottery Barn has a Tamsen Storage Bench where you can tuck items away.


Choose pieces that can be used for multiple purposes. A padded ottoman could be an ideal place to put up your feet or, with the addition of a tray on top, a place to serve drinks and snacks. West Elm’s wheeled Mid-Century Bar Cart can be pulled front and center when in use or tucked away conveniently. Multifunctional furniture can help you extend the use of your small room without cluttering it.

Get organized

If you do plan to leave items out in your small space, make sure to organize them. Grouping like with like can help your space look tidier. And don’t be afraid to turn to baskets to keep things readily available without forcing your guests to look at them the whole time they’re in the room.

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A ceiling-mounted lamp adds light and height to the space without taking up any precious square footage. A small coffee table adds functionality without cramping the room. Image: Westend61/Getty Images

Think thin

We talked about leveraging the elevation in your room to make it feel larger. Similarly, height can be a huge help when buying furniture for the space.

Stack it up

If you’ve got books, decor items or blankets you want to display in your small room, get a narrow bookcase. It’s a perfect display opportunity that minimizes square foot usage. Target’s Carson Narrow Bookcase is a tall, skinny bookcase that gives you five shelves of storage but is just 18 inches wide.

Add tiny tables

Small accent tables can make your compact room significantly more useful without making it feel cramped. Tuck a table at the end of the couch, side of the bed or in an unused corner. You’ll be amazed how much more pleasant it is to enjoy the room when you can easily put down your drink or book.

Choose skinny or mounted lamps

Whether you’re picking floor or table lamps, look for thin or wall-mount options. In a space where square footage is precious, these lamps can be powerful. They enable you to add more light – which makes the space feel larger – without sacrificing the flow of the room.

A small space can be a design challenge, but with these 12 actionable tips, you’re ready to tackle it. When you try them out, let us know which one was most helpful in the comments!

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