How To Choose The Best Furniture For Small Spaces: 6 Pro Design Tips

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on August 8, 2022

In a large space, you have the luxury of buying pretty, purely aesthetic pieces that simply exist, like sculptural, drawer-free nightstands or a priceless antique chair that you can’t actually sit in. But when it comes to furniture for small spaces or apartment, the opposite is true: function must trump form in order for the space to feel livable.

Fortunately, furniture design has come a long way. With a little hunting, you can now find the perfect two-foot entryway console slash WFH desk for your cozy home, or a rolling island slash hidden pantry for your apartment kitchen.

With that said, it always helps to have a few small space design tips up your sleeve when it comes to furnishing a tight room. Ahead, Havenly designer Kasee Smith shares exactly how to choose furniture for small spaces, whether you live in a tiny studio or a modest ranch-style home.

1. Pull Double Duty

comfortable living room with iron glass paned sideboard

This is the oldest small space design trick in the book: invest in furniture that pulls double duty, whether it’s a storage ottoman that doubles as extra seating and a coffee table, a TV stand with extra display shelving, or a bed frame with pull-out drawers. Almost every piece of furniture should serve multiple purposes in a tight apartment or small home — that way, the space still feels functional.

black tv stand

2. Think Mobile

NYC apartment design

Lightweight, mobile pieces like ottomans, nesting tables, poufs, and side tables are key when furnishing a small space. Not only can you can reconfigure your space in seconds to accommodate company, you can easily stash pieces in another room if and when you need to clear the air. Who wants a heavy marble coffee table in the center of a tiny apartment?!

Nesting tables

3. Go Light & Airy

White bookshelf styling

To make a tight space feel as open and airy as possible, your furniture should check both of those boxes, too. Open bookshelves, acrylic or glass coffee tables, and dainty side tables look and feel lightweight, as opposed to a heavy stone coffee table or a solid storage cabinet. Most importantly, these items optimize flow and open up the floor plan from wall to wall.

Curved bookcase

4. Embrace Modular

Books arranged by color

We know that IKEA can feel a bit college, but hear us out: modular furniture, particularly pieces designed to fit into each other, is incredibly handy in small spaces with minimal storage. For example, invest in ottomans that slide underneath your coffee table for extra seating when needed. Or, consider a classic pull-out sofa to accommodate overnight guests. These thoughtfully-designed pieces quite literally work together to optimize your space.

5. Think Outside of the Box

Plants interior design

Ignore the product description and get creative when it comes to buying furniture. For example, if you don’t have space for a traditional bar cart but a slim tray table fits the bill, go for it! Small dressers, TV stands, entryway consoles, desks, buffets, side tables, bookshelves, floating shelves, and beyond are incredibly versatile if you use your imagination.

Bar cabinet

6. Add Storage Wherever Possible

Built-in bookshelves

Whether you opt for floor-to-ceiling built ins or 10-plus aesthetically-pleasing storage baskets, add storage wherever possible in a small home or apartment. And remember: what you lack in floor space you can make up for in height — always go vertical and utilize that precious wall space! Storage baskets

Looking for a way to overcome your unique home dilemmas? Work one-on-one with our expert interior designers for just $129 per room. Get started today with our style quiz.

Words by Kelsey Clark