What Unexpected Challenges Arise in Small Space Design for Interior Designers?


    What Unexpected Challenges Arise in Small Space Design for Interior Designers?

    Interior Designers often encounter unique challenges when maximizing the potential of small spaces. From optimizing furniture and color choices to selecting wide-plank hardwood for spaciousness, we've gathered six insightful strategies from experienced Interior Designers and development leaders. Discover how these professionals creatively tackle space constraints to transform tiny areas into functional, stylish havens.

    • Optimize Furniture and Color Choices
    • Enhance Light and Utilize Multifunctional Fixtures
    • Innovate with Custom Multi-Use Furniture
    • Balance Functionality with Aesthetic in Decor
    • Incorporate Versatile, Multi-Purpose Pieces
    • Select Wide-Plank Hardwood for Spaciousness

    Optimize Furniture and Color Choices

    When working with small spaces, there is always the concern for furniture placement for the desired function of the space. Small spaces can easily become visually cluttered.

    You can overcome this challenge with a few helpful hints: simply using smaller-scale furnishings and lighter paint and/or fabric selections. Select furniture that sits up off the ground—legs that elevate the pieces.

    Include other elements to enhance the space: use a mirror to draw in light, remove any chair rail to make the space feel larger, and install window treatments at the ceiling to give the illusion of higher walls, etc.

    These simple suggestions can have a big impact on a smaller space.

    Brenda Miller
    Brenda MillerInterior Designer, Ethan Allen

    Enhance Light and Utilize Multifunctional Fixtures

    As an interior designer, one of the challenges I did not expect when dealing with small spaces is how to deal with the absence of natural light. It's no fun working in a room that lacks enough sunlight; it tends to feel cramped and dark. To counteract this effect, I utilized mirrors cleverly to enhance reflection and amplify any available sources of light, thereby giving an illusion of more space and increasing brightness. Furthermore, I chose walls and furniture in soft colors that would improve illumination and open up the room. For example, by introducing multifunctional fixtures like sofa-beds and pull-out desks, I was able to increase utilization without causing overcrowding. Additionally, I made sure that storage options were integrated smoothly into the scheme using items such as built-in shelves or hidden compartments, thus avoiding unnecessary clutter. By focusing on these elements alone, a dull, small area can be transformed into a warm, welcoming place that is also practical for use.

    Nitya Seth
    Nitya SethInterior Designer, NITYANAMYA

    Innovate with Custom Multi-Use Furniture

    I worked on a tiny studio apartment where the biggest challenge was fitting a comfortable living room, a home office, and a guest bed into one small space.

    My solution was a custom-built platform that raised the bed, creating storage underneath. This platform extended out to form a desk, creating a mini home office. When guests came, we could lower the bed onto the platform, making it a comfy place to sleep. The result was a space that felt functional, stylish, and surprisingly spacious!

    Ryan Windsor
    Ryan WindsorDevelopment Director, WindsorPatania Group

    Balance Functionality with Aesthetic in Decor

    One challenge, which is not expected in designing small spaces, is balancing between functionality and appearance. Every piece of furniture and decor must serve more than one purpose because of the limited square footage, thus needing to be customized—a factor that increases cost and time used. It's advisable to opt for multi-functional furniture like sofa-beds or extendable tables, as well as using light colors and mirrors to make the place feel open. If you concentrate on furniture with both practical function and visual appeal, you will achieve a space that is functional yet welcoming.

    Peyton Robinson
    Peyton RobinsonHead of Marketing & Professional Interior Designer, Foter

    Incorporate Versatile, Multi-Purpose Pieces

    One unexpected challenge in designing small spaces is underestimating the need for versatility. It's easy to get caught up in making everything look good, but with limited room, every piece needs to serve more than one purpose. There was this project where space was so tight that traditional furniture just wasn't cutting it.

    The breakthrough came when I started incorporating multi-functional pieces. Think of a dining table that doubles as a work desk, or a sofa that has hidden storage. This approach not only saves space but also keeps the area organized and clutter-free. Also, using light colors and mirrors to create the illusion of space can work wonders. Clients are often surprised at how these simple changes can make a cramped area feel open and functional.

    Andrei Newman
    Andrei NewmanFounder, Designer Home Spas

    Select Wide-Plank Hardwood for Spaciousness

    When designing small spaces, interior designers are challenged with creating a sense of openness. Choosing the right flooring is crucial in achieving this goal and can have the single largest impact on how spacious a room feels. Wide-plank hardwood flooring is an excellent choice because it not only creates the illusion of a larger space but also adds a natural element that can beautifully complement various decor styles. Additionally, high-quality hardwood flooring provides warmth, comfort, and can positively influence one's mood. European Flooring is widely recognized as a leader in the flooring industry and has received the National Luxe RED Award for "Best Flooring" for three consecutive years.

    Andrew CohenManaging Partner, European Flooring