How To Max Out A Super-Small Space

When you're living in a small space, it can be difficult to see beyond your limitations: A weird layout, awkwardly-placed architectural features, and, of course, the teeny floorplan all rank high on the list of complaints.
But, for a designer, these challenges become opportunities to put color, furniture, and creativity to work. We checked in with a few talented designers to see how they perfected the art of living stylishly in a small space. Check out their projects and let us know what tricks you'll be borrowing by tweeting @ViyetNY and @Refinery29.
As self-proclaimed bargain hunters and thrifting aficionados,Viyet co-founders Rachel Rodin & Louise Youngson-Klasfeld know a thing or two about doing up your digs on a dime. Now, two years after launching Viyet — a white-glove market for luxury secondhand furniture, curated by top designers — the longtime NYC residents are bringing their consignment know-how to R29.
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Photo: Courtesy of Schoeller + Darling Design/Viyet.
A Spacious-Feeling Studio
This small apartment, located on the High Line in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood, may be a studio — but it feels like a grander space thanks to clean-lined furnishings. "The apartment features many solutions for a small space, such as a bed that was custom made to double as a sofa and a large table that's for dining and work," says Michael Schoeller, who founded Schoeller + Darling Design with partner Joanna Darling. For your own space, follow the designer’s lead and look specifically for pieces that have more than one role in your home. Daybeds and tables that can expand with leaves are great options — but only if you'll use them for both functions.

"Another room-stretching trick I like to employ is to paint ceilings in a high-gloss," says designer Kent Brasloff of Ask Kent & Co. "This brings natural light across the space during the day and reflects lamplight with a pleasant glow in the evenings." Just one word of advice: Make sure your ceiling is as smooth as possible in order to achieve the best result.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Heywood Interiors/Viyet.
A Bold, Sexy Bedroom
Though many think that only light colors work in a small space, Lisa Heywood of Lisa Heywood Interiors challenges you to think outside the paint deck. "In this New York City bachelor pad, the dark navy color creates a fantastic cocoon," she says. "I kept the floor and bedding in a lighter tone to create balance and added some color with the pillows and curtains." So, if you're in love with the dark hues that are making the rounds of Pinterest, go for it — just balance with lighter-hued accessories.
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A dark four-poster king-sized bed is a luxurious way to end (and start) your day.

Holly Hunt Four Poster King Bed, $5,495, available at Viyet.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Heywood Interiors/Viyet.
A Work Station Within A Niche
Yes, you can have your own home office space, even when the dimensions of your apartment are tiny. Just look for a desk that has built-in organization. Heywood found such a find on the vintage market with this French postal sorting desk, which dates back to the 1940s, and placed it in an unused niche. It's got all the space you need to store a mini-library of books (and papers). Even better, the stool swings underneath when you're all done. You can get a similar effect by choosing a desk with built-in storage, and swapping the usual office chair for a stool (which can be stowed away easier).
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This vintage desk is functional and sleek, perfect for any small space.

Vintage Metal School Desk, $395, available at Viyet.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Heywood Interiors/Viyet.
A Welcoming Living Room In An Odd Space
"This room was a challenge!" says Heywood. This room was not only narrow, but it had floor-to-ceiling windows across that made furniture arranging difficult at best. “We had so much light but no room for books!” says Heywood. (And, of course, construction wasn't allowed in this unit.) So, she "added" a wall by placing large sheets of thick foam core over the opposite wall covering a small window, then applying textured wallpaper to where the bookcase would cover the wall. This provides a backdrop for the stacked bookcases — which, in turn, makes a lovely backdrop for the tufted sofa. The sheepskin rug and satin ottoman also create dimension. The lesson here? Pile on different layers of texture in a room. It'll make it seem richer.
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A modular shelving unit is a great way to maximize a small space. Not only can it delineate the room, it will create interest as a showcase wall.

Umbo Shelving Unit, $1,295, available at Viyet.
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Photo: Courtesy of Viyet.
A Living Room Filled With "Investments"
In a small space, you'll most likely be using every single piece of furniture daily. Therefore, it makes sense to put a little extra money in the pieces that will see the most wear. That's exactly what Viyet Creative Director Camila Hori did in her apartment. "All the pieces we have have to be as hard working as they are good looking," she says. "We invested in anchor pieces, like our Eames Chair, to mix in with our other lower-end pieces."
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The sofa is an excellent place to devote a little more time and money to finding. After all, you'll be using it the most. We like the Piero Lissoni for Cappellini Soft Sofa. Its gray hue will go with any decor scheme — and it originally retailed for $8,000.

Piero Lissoni for Cappellini Soft Sofa, $3,200, available at Viyet.

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