2014 / Tutorials

6 tips for styling a small living space

My man and I began renting a precious 1930’s bungalow in December, which I’ve been gushing about ever since… In an effort to create a cozy retreat for ourselves we decided to transform the backyard in-law suite in to our bedroom. The space, including the bathroom and a funky loft area, is just about 300 square feet. Initially a creative challenge, the room has become the ideal hideaway.

To maintain a masculine-feminine balance we decided on an industrial-chic aesthetic — galvanized piping, unfinished wood and concrete floors accented with Persian and polar bear rugs and dainty DIYs. Along the way we’ve discovered just how liberating less square footage can be. If you inhabit a petite pad or dainty dorm take note of the six small-space styling tips I live by!

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

1. Take inspiration from skyscrapers and build up. Think vertically, using tall, space saving bookshelves rather than short, squat storage. Take advantage of vertical wall space, guiding the eye up with art and photos — or in our case a ladder leading to our loft — making the room feel tall and spacious.

#1 - Take inspiration from skyscrapers and build up (6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun)

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

2. No closet, no problem. Recruit a garment rack to display your wardrobe. In lieu of a closet, I arranged a wardrobe nook in the alcove under our loft. A garment rack surrounded by your shoes, purses and hats imparts a boutique feel to a space, letting you feel like you’re shopping your wardrobe every morning!

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

3. Surround yourself with multifunctional pieces. Fill your space with decor that doubles as storage or storage that doubles as seating. We store winter coats in an antique chest at the foot of the bed and stash swimsuits inside vintage luggage. Even our handmade bed frame moonlights as a nightstand and bench seating.

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

4. Curate small vignettes around your space, decorating with treasured keepsakes. These mini displays give each shelf of a bookcase or corner of a room its own personality, forming an intriguing, ornate space. Prop a book open with an easel, highlight a prized collection or stack books of similar colors together.

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

5. Surround yourself with clutter taming, mess preventing storage. Clean-up’s a breeze when everything has a home. I corral loose items in under-bed wire baskets, slip magazines into a retro Barbie bag and toss rings and bobby pins in a bedside dish each night. Even our astroturf rug helps us visually herd our shoes.

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6. Sprinkle your space with DIY projects. Handmade touches help your home feel cozy, not cramped, so fill your space with DIYs to spark conversation and distract from square footage. Vintage beer cans make kitschy-cute succulent planters and a string of doily garland serves as a dainty makeshift headboard.

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

6 tips for styling a small living space via The Girl with the Bun

Do you inhabit a miniature manor? A modest mansion? What are your tips for living in cozy quarters? Do tell!

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8 thoughts on “6 tips for styling a small living space

  1. love this! I think my problem is that I have so much stuff. I love the clutter-free look. that’s something I need to work on wether that be added storage or simply giving things to Goodwill!

    • Sydney, I had a bunch of stuff too. I’ve always been a pack rat. Luckily I did some ‘spring cleaning’ this fall. I evaluated my closet and got rid of pieces I hadn’t worn in ages. I also let go of a lot of knick knacks I’d been holding on to. I’m by no means a minimalist, but I’m on my way and loving it!

  2. Such an awesome idea for the in-law suite! Now show us the rest of your adorable bungalow! Wish I could rent one of my own. Alas, me and the boy have the search eliminated for us since his folks own a rental property that we’ll be able to move into later this year. Which isn’t a bad thing, I just would have had fun looking. Guess we’ll save that for the mortgage years!

  3. Really cute post and ideas! I used to live in smaller quarters and leveraging vertical space really comes in handy (floating shelves, wall to wall shelving) as well as double-duty furniture (storage ottoman that is also a coffee table, bed with drawers) are also must-haves!

  4. Such good ideas and your place looks super cute. I’ve also been on a mission to organise my apartment and wardrobe lately and think that having a proper place for everything is so important. It helps keeps clutter in check and also acts as a gentle reminder of when another bout of spring cleaning might be in order…

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