MY TIPS FOR DESIGNING SMALL SPACES
Updated: Apr 4
I've owed you this post for awhile! Living in a studio apartment, I have limited space. Designing small spaces can be notoriously challenging, and as a result, I intentionally design my space to maximize and accentuate. Now, I'm sharing the design elements I stuck to while putting together my apartment, and I'm excited to share a sneak peak into my space in partnership with Ashley HomeStore!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I went to the Grand Opening of the new Ashley HomeStore location in Columbia, Maryland. This new location -- 6100 Dobbin Rd -- is a unique Ashley location. It is a joint space that contains both an expansive Ashley HomeStore attached to an Ashley HomeStore Outlet.
During the store's Grand Opening, I pursued the large Ashley HomeStore - Columbia, Maryland showroom floor. The design possibilities seemed endless but with my studio apartment, I knew I didn't have room for a sectional, dining table, etc. So I walked over to the Ashley HomeStore Outlet. Ashley's Outlet space had amazing selection of one-off statement pieces perfect for those of us re-/designing in small spaces.
To help decide on pieces, I asked myself:
"What do I want to see when I work from home? Sit on while I drink my coffee? Sleep on at night?"
While I found pieces I love from the Ashley Outlet, picking out furniture always makes me think. While I walked around, I considered the pieces already in my apartment and what pieces would complement the pre-existing design. I tapped into my own tips for buying decor in small spaces, and I've (finally) decided to share those tips with you all along with my three new pieces from Ashley HomeStore Columbia!
My Tips for Designing Small Spaces:
1. Pick a palette.
Continuity in color schemes may seem like an obvious design tip, but it works wonders in small spaces. The name of the game is visuals, and when picking pieces for my apartment, I use a variety of elements to make the space seem bigger than it is. One way to do this is with continuity. You can completely transform a studio and 1BR apartment by picking a palette and sticking with it. In my space, dark brown wood is a harmonizer, a theme. This theme helps to create a cohesive, complementary look making my space appear larger by allowing pieces to blend into one another instead of drawing the eye to one specific piece.
As a result, my eye was immediately drawn to the Peacemaker Accent Chair while walking through the Ashley Outlet. It was timeless, it was unique, it was brown, it was on sale. And did I mention it has a 4.5-star rating?
2. Prioritize your sleeping space.
If you're a religious reader, you know I have a penchant for practicality. Few things make me happier than a deal on a practical purchase. James and I went to feel out mattresses at Ashley, give them the bounce test, look around. When we laid down on this Beautyrest Dresden Plush mattress in the Outlet space, we fell in love. It was firm yet soft. When we saw the price was under $500, we had to have it! We were really impressed that Ashley HomeStore carries mattresses - both the quality and prices are amazing. And for $60, you can have your new mattress delivered right to your door!
3. Look for multipurpose pieces.
Green is one of my favorite colors, and I'll pick gold over silver any day of the week. So bringing home the Lancer Accent Ottoman was a no-brainer. I knew the unique, bold color would complement the greens and neutrals already present in my apartment. Day-to-day, I use it as a stand for my electronics and glasses when I'm headed to bed. The added practicality? It's an extra seat for when I have visitors! Small spaces have limited room for seating and this accent ottoman is a 2-for-1 deal. Multipurpose pieces are key for small spaces!
4. Design with visual depth.
This tip may seem subtle, but when I point it out, it'll seem obvious. When I say "design with visual depth", I mean pick pieces that allow you to see through the space. Take my coffee table, for example. I use a table with slats because it is visually 'light'. You can see through it. You can see down to the carpet and the wire storage container underneath. The table's thin legs help to make it take up less space visually. While the piece serves its purpose as a table, it provides vertical and horizontal depth through its design, helping the space feel less cluttered, more open, and by proxy, bigger. This same logic applies to the bar cart and breakfast table I've selected for my space. They both fit my palette (brown wood) and visual depth!
5. Work up the walls.
Hang it from the ceilings! A lamp, plant, string lights, get creative. In most apartments, ceilings are dead space. In a small space? Game changer. By working up your walls, even in just one location, you help to elevate the eye. I've use this tip in my own apartment by hanging an Edison bulb from a random hook in my ceiling. We didn't know what to do with it for the longest time, lol - but this trick definitely makes your space appear taller and more spacious.
6. Utilize reflections.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's got the largest apartment of them all? You! Mirrors are my favorite way to expand a space. Again, it's a game of visuals. The more you can reflect, the larger the space looks. In my apartment, I've placed a mirror in a location that will reflect the open space outside my window (instead of just another wall) helping to add an additional air of openness. Full length mirrors are also great for adding depth to a room. They're also perfect for snapping outfit photos. When it comes to mirrors, don't be afraid to use multiple!
7. Storage, storage, storage!
Storage is so important for small spaces. The way I look at it, the storage issue is two-fold. You need to 1) find creative ways to store items and 2) de-clutter. Small spaces continue to look small if you litter them with an excess of items. In my case, I have a (small) clothing closet which contains most of my clothes, a clothing rack, a bathroom closet with moderate storage, kitchen cabinets, and under-bed storage bins. I limit myself to these five large storage "compartments". If it doesn't fit or the item is no longer needed, it's getting donated or thrown away. With small spaces, you need to set boundaries on what's worth keeping because you won't have the space to keep it all! But that's a topic for another post.
Shop my picks from Ashley HomeStore:
Click on an item to shop!
Designing small spaces is a game of illusions. A game of visuals. You have to understand all the space you have (vertical and horizontal) and accentuate it. Play with it! Although this post focuses on small spaces, with the extensive selection in both their retail and outlet sections, Ashley HomeStore - Columbia has anything and everything to make you say #ThisIsHome! The Columbia store showroom is divided up by design aesthetics with additional sections for kids' bedrooms and mattresses. I really like Ashley's Urbanology collection, designed for city dwellers like myself.
Pro-tip: If you head to shop at the Columbia, MD location, be ready to take your item home! If the item is in stock, you can save time and money by taking it home with you that day. We were able to pick up the Lancer Ottoman and the Peacemaker Chair the day of the Grand Opening but came back a few days later to pick them up (when it was less hectic.)
A big thanks to Ashley HomeStore for partnering up with me on this post. I also wanted to add in a note about their customer service. During the Grand Opening of the Ashley HomeStore - Columbia, MD location, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the managers, TJ. I was blown away at his kinda nature and genuine spirit. Even during the hectic Grand Opening event, his customer service was truly unmatched. I needed to give TJ a shoutout because a good manager is worth celebrating!
Have you shopped at Ashley HomeStore before? Want to know more about the pieces highlighted in this post? Have a design question? Leave me a comment below and let's chat!
Looking for more style inspiration? Be sure to check out the posts under my STYLE tab. As always, you can keep up with my everyday looks, events, and adventures over on Instagram!
Until next time!
This is a sponsored post by Ashley Furniture HomeStore. All design ideas, reviews, and opinions expressed in this post are my own!