Small Rooms: Contemporary furnishing and interior designs tips

Think big!Inspiration for living in a small space with tips for storage space, colour, light and much more

Furnish small rooms

Furnishing guide for small rooms

Small space, big challenge. Charming as a smaller domestic space can be, the tightly defined limits can prove a furnishing challenge: challenges you can use to your advantage. Less square meters automatically results in lower energy costs and the rooms are easier to maintain. While since the rise of minimalist interiors the limitations of the small domestic space have shone in a stylish reduction. From a tiny house to a small apartment in an old building, whether for economic reasons or out of conviction - living in a small space with a high quality of life is easier than you may imagine: “Think big!” is the motto when setting up your personal space.

Make a small room bigger: Furnishing tips & case studies 

In order to get the most out of a few square meters, space-saving all-rounders and bright colours are a perfect starting point, always accompanied by well thought-out room planning. And all in context of the mantra: less is more.

1. Make maximum use of storage space

The optimal storage solutions for small spaces include custom shelving configurations and built-in closets, which enable optimal use of space and are discreetly restrained on account of their tidy appearance.

Individual storage furniture is particularly valuable when shelving can be sited in a wall niche or empty door: in this way, the available space can be used to the maximum.

Closed cupboards are generally recommended for a minimalist look in small rooms, as the fronts create a sense of calm. Consumer electronics are also best kept in such a closet.

While messy, open, bookshelves bring clutter to small spaces, an even arrangement of the shelves can help expand a space. Books sorted by colour ensure a particularly clean look.

So that cupboards and shelves don't look too bulky, it is best to paint the wall behind them in the same colour as the furniture. In this way, the large piece of furniture recedes visually.

If the room is very high, but the floor space is narrow, high shelves can also be employed with a ladder.

2. Multi-functional furniture

On account of their reduced proportions and integrated storage secretaries are the perfect match for small spaces. And best of all: when folded, the furniture is completely inconspicuous and barely takes up any space when not in use.

Folding furniture offers additional (seating) options as required, but otherwise does not take up valuable space. Similarly folding tables, stackable side tables stacking stools, and sofa beds are also practical all-rounders.

3. Reduced furniture

Transparent furniture made of glass, plexiglass or wire mesh is very discreet on account of the reduced use of materials: in contrast to dominant furniture made of solid wood, they are optically light and appear to take up very little space.

Sideboards attached to the wall are a good storage space solution as, as they appear to be floating, they automatically appear more subtle. Cupboards and sofas upon filigree feet have a similar effect.

Low, floor-level seating elements visually enlarge rooms. Their proportions also fit well in attic studios or other rooms with low ceilings.

Large pieces of furniture take up less space in niches or when placed close to the wall.

4. Mirrors for small spaces

Mirrors are a must in any small home: cleverly placed, they can optically increase the space.

Anything goes when designing with mirrors! Because mirrors add depth instead of taking up space, most small room decorating rules don't apply to them. Unusual shapes and eye-catching colours make mirrors ideal as a decorative highlight in small rooms.

5. Light in small spaces

Brightness makes small rooms appear more spacious and while the size of the windows and the incidence of light can usually not be changed, a well thought-out lighting plan with at least two different lights can have have a positive effect.

It is best to place four to five light sources in different areas and at different height as this creates overlapping circles of light that envelop the entire room in brightness. A ceiling light placed exclusively in the middle, on the other hand, creates unfavourable shadows in the corners and makes the room appear smaller.

Light shining on the ceiling makes the room appear higher. Light shining from under cupboards reduces the bulk of large elements.

6. Colours and patterns for small spaces

Monochrome creates optical width. The effect is particularly strong when the furniture and the wall behind it are the same colour. Drastic colour changes should always be avoided in small rooms.

Small room elements such as baseboards, stucco and cornices can compress small rooms. It is therefore advisable to paint the entire walls and, if necessary, the ceiling in one colour.

In small spaces, choose light colours and neutral covers for upholstered furniture. Pastel colours are particularly suitable as they reflect daylight, create visual calm and are well suited to making rooms appear larger.

In general, the larger the pattern, the smaller the room appears. However, extravagant wallpapers are suitable as an accent and can also be used in small rooms - preferably in a limited but visible area.

Patterned wallpaper works best in small spaces when decorated in light colours and with small symmetrical patterns.

Wild patterns can quickly appear bulky, but high-contrast materials are also suitable as a stylistic device in small rooms - especially if the design is otherwise deliberately reduced. Textures and structured surfaces can create depth and character in the room.

7. Interior Minimalism

Especially in small rooms: Keep it simple! Not only in terms of the amount of furniture, but also in terms of design: minimalism is the furnishing style of choice. Clear lines and reduced details give the room room to breathe.

Above all, simple armchairs, are arranged in pairs, are an ideal solution for narrow seating areas.

In small spaces, the focus should be on selected pieces that fit perfectly with one another. With discreet, high-quality furniture, less can effortlessly become more.

8. Space usage

Niches in the hallway and mezzanines in the stairwell can be used not only for storage space, but also as a workplace. Severed corners and platforms are also suitable for lounge areas and guest beds.

A high bed can be used to create a second level in small, very high rooms and in this way, different areas are defined and the available space is also used to the maximum.

Floor plans that manage with a minimum of partition walls do not create space, but they do create light and visual axes that make spatial restrictions appear less overwhelming.

An effect of visual width can be created with glass doors without major interventions in the building structure. If you are thinking about structural changes in your own home, always consult an architect or structural engineer.

5 Do's & Dont's when living in a small space

The biggest problem in small rooms is the limited floor space. Too much or too massive furniture and the interior looks cluttered or chaotic and the already scarce space can become overwhelming. The following 5 do's and dont's reveal how to use small rooms optimally, which furnishing mistakes to avoid and how unfavourable conditions can be compensated for with simple tricks.

1. Avoid clutter

Little space often means a lack of storage space, which quickly leads to clutter and invariably means that chaos is particularly present in small rooms which makes them appear even smaller. In addition to optimal storage space solutions for papers, odds and ends and other items that are rarely used, clearing out is the be-all and end-all in a small space. To keep things tidy, storage space is best sorted according to frequency of use and as close as possible to the place of use. Structuring shelving accessories help with sorting and effective use of space.

2. Maintain freedom of movement

For a sense of space the ability to move freely is important, but how can a feeling of generosity be created despite narrowness? Reduce yourself to the essentials and do without one or the other piece of furniture in favour of free paths; it is essential to avoid free-standing furniture that looks very dominant and takes up more space than the actual floor space; stairs and corridors in particular should not be blocked because they quickly appear cramped.

It is ideal if small rooms are equipped with a beautiful wooden floor. The floor should be kept free as much as possible. This creates an airy and at the same time homely atmosphere. Large rugs with graphic patterns counteract the feeling of spaciousness and are unsuitable for small rooms. Although small colourful carpet's work better, they only come into their own in larger, single-colour areas.

3. Utilise sloping ceilings

Rooms under a roof with sloping ceilings lead to great challenges when it comes to finding beautiful, suitable furniture; therefore you should consciously include such niches in your furnishing planning. Custom-made built-in shelves, high-quality sideboards and slopes and gables accentuated in your favourite colour make a virtue out of necessity

4. Optical tricks

If the proportions in very narrow rooms seem overwhelming, this can be counteracted with a few tricks. A dark-painted rear wall makes it appear closer and the room appears less hosed. In addition, rather light colours and a wide main piece of furniture on the narrow wall are recommended. Otherwise, the following applies: reduction to the essentials!

Pro Tip:

Create a mood board to play through the colour scheme of your living space. Also consider small items, such as storage boxes and utensils. Arrange the colours in the room so that a coherent overall impression is created.

5. Plan rooms individually

If you live in a small space, you have to see the big picture. Without the possibility of giving each room its own function, individual areas must be able to be used in a variety of ways; therefore, when planning, ask yourself: What space do I need for cooking, working or for guests? How do I live and what is important to me within my four walls? As a rule, not all living areas require the same attention. Instead, variables in the interior create efficient, space-saving solutions.

Pro Tip:

Especially in small rooms, every centimetre counts. Precise measurements and a written room plan are therefore important prerequisites for an optimal end result. It is best to plan with a scale of 1:50; in the kitchen and bathroom, a scale of 1:20 is recommended for even more accuracy. Don't forget things like doors, light switches and sockets in the draught!

Small but oho: smow community inspiration

More impressions from the smow community are waiting under the hashtag #smowathome and on the official smow Instagram Account.

Well stowed in the USM Haller Board, seen at @si.len.cio
USM unit, seen at @elbgestoeber

smow interior planning for small rooms

If you are looking for assistance in realising your dream home smow will help you find the optimal solution – no matter how much space is available. In cooperation with our architects and interior designers we take care of your project from conception to implementation. Our smow room planning expert team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 8am and 7pm on +49 341 2222 88 66 or via email at