How To Make Small-Space Living Work For You

Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
As an interior designer, Daphne Steinberg knows the importance of having a beautiful space that’s also fully functional (read: comfortable). In her diminutive apartment in San Francisco, with its strangely narrow doors, Steinberg has also become a master at small-space living.

Inspired by the art of Dalí, bold colors, and magazines, Steinberg created a warm, welcoming space that showcases her most beloved treasures. Read on to see her tips for combining form and function to create a space that’s uniquely yours.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
While Steinberg is an interior designer with her own firm, how she decorates at home is very different from what she does for clients. “I’m a true tchotchke collector,” she admits. “From my favorite books to pictures to objects from family, I have a lot of stuff that’s sentimental that I like to display. That’s not for everyone, but it’s important to have that in my space and to be able to see what I value in my home."
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
“Living in a small space means I have to I edit myself on a regular basis," says Steinberg. "I ask myself what is really important, and what I want to look at every day. It’s about finding the crossover between what’s important to me and what looks right.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
Another problem that Steinberg faces living in San Francisco is “unique” architecture. A really narrow doorway added another level of complexity when she was looking for furniture, "because it has to fit through the entryway doors," she explains. “It sounds simple, but you wouldn’t believe all the people who don’t think about measuring beforehand. Measure first, and then search.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
When outfitting her own space and for clients, Steinberg defaults to shopping vintage. “I love vintage because it creates such a unique look. I want my home to feel different... I want [people] to say 'Where did you get that amazing piece?' With vintage, you make your space your own. You want people to walk in and not have seen that look before.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
For those who are shopping and unsure of whether or not something will fit in with the rest of the home, Steinberg keeps it real. “Because you live with your stuff, you really absorb it. If you see something and a voice inside tells you that you really like it, there’s a good chance it’s going to integrate well into your home. Something about it is speaking to you, and it’s important to listen to your instincts."
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
Steinberg made her own DIY-malachite wall, to add a truly fabulous touch to the bedroom.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
For those who live in small spaces, it’s important to be thoughtful. Steinberg values her sentimental family items, and it shows in the way she artfully arranges her space.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
Comfort is also key for Steinberg. “Our living room is different than the setup that we had when we first moved in. Our original couch looked really great and provided more room for entertaining, but it wasn’t comfortable at all. In the end, you have to prioritize what’s important to you. For my fiancé and me, because we sit on our couch every day to relax and unwind, it was vital for us to be able to do... As much as we love to entertain, we have to face reality and know what’s important to us — which is having a comfortable spot at the end of the day."
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Photo: Courtesy of Nanette Wong/Chairish.
Steinberg notes that although her home "is not 100% what I’d do in a client’s home, my space is a reflection of my personal style, mixed with my design philosophies. By nature, I’m very sentimental and I love to collect, keep, and share things. In the end, it’s mine — and I love everything I have. I love how it’s personal, yet totally liveable at the same time.”
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