Styling Hard-to-Navigate Spaces

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Erica Buehler

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Published on December 2, 2020

Sometimes, a room is almost perfect—but a pesky corner or nook can keep you from achieving total style nirvana. Good news: we’re here to help you with those hard-to-navigate spaces, ensuring every last spot of your home is styled to impress.


The good thing about styling corners is that there is an abundance of corner-designed shelves and furniture; and the best part is the potential for extra storage and functionality. For a homey, sentimental vibe, use this space for family photos, beloved knick-knacks, or small art pieces. And, if this corner or room receives less light than the rest of your space, a small table lamp, freestanding lamp, or string lights can really brighten things up.

Potted plants on floating shelves or a single, large hanging plant in an ornate pot (see: macrame hanging planters, which are trending) can enliven a particularly empty corner if the lighting is adequate.

Plus, handcrafted corner end tables can be found in antique stores with a little digging and some DIY love—or you can choose from a plethora of styles online. As an example, we love this shelf design from Wayfair that fits snugly into any corner.

Small Spaces

You may have seen our recent blog post about styling console tables for entryways that seem a bit bare. We love spaces like these as they can work simultaneously as functional and aesthetically pleasing.

While you don’t necessarily have to incorporate both function and form, smaller spaces tend to lend themselves to those ideas. A small nook or area beneath a staircase, for example, can be jazzed-up with a colorful padded bench (hello, extra guest seating!), shelving (knick-knack storage), coat racks, or even small desks for additional work space.

Bay windows are great for reading areas, and there are a lot of options for furniture that works as extra seating and storage space. Fun throw pillows or artwork are small touches that can make a big difference to spaces like these.

Hard-to-Reach and Other Tricky Spaces

Even for high-up kitchen cabinets, walls behind laundry machines that are just out of reach, built-in wiring or piping, or shallow mantels, there is always a solution. Hard-to-access spaces are great for adding style without necessarily needing functionality (after all, we’re not going to bust out the step-ladder every day).

If you’ve got a vibrant wall color, tile pattern, or epic wallpaper in your laundry room, you’re already halfway there; Add some floating shelves featuring vintage—or vintage-looking—signs, faux plants (if you can’t reach them, you can’t water them!), and other decorative pieces that fit your style. 

Cherished China or antique bowls and vases make for great gallery moments on high-up kitchen shelves. If there are high cabinets or spaces you know you can’t use daily, consider removing the doors and opening them up for decor!

For shallow mantels and around built-in features like pipes and wiring, a few pieces of art in various sizes make for eye-catching moments. Utilizing art and decor in an effort to combine color and texture can add some depth to an otherwise shallow or uneventful space.

Tackle tricky spaces in a snap when you enlist one of our expert designers — it all starts with our design style quiz

Words by Erica Buehler