For any of us that opt for urban living, the struggle of small space styling is real. Trying to functionally fit in the necessities (ie: apartment-sized pieces that don’t look or feel like apartment-sized pieces) and still somehow add in all the elements of a home that make it your own, can be a serious game of tetris. Or more realistically, a lot of trial and error.
I love the thrill of moving into a new place and often find myself living in unconventional dwellings, so I have been forced to learn how my pieces best fit together even in the smallest of spaces. If I were a minimalist and had the Marie Kondo approach to design, my life would be much simpler. However, my reality is that I am a lifelong treasure-hunter who gathers, collects and cherishes pieces that spark nostalgia or story; my home(s) always tell the tales of my life, the journeys I’ve had and the loves that have touched my heart… add in being a mama to a nine year old daughter and a fur-baby, small space living with style is a particular challenge.
While we have only lived in this sweet little apartment for just over a year, it has been one of my favourite homes and one that I will miss and recall with fondness after we move later this month ; it’s nestled within a charming heritage building that offers great bones and, despite it’s ultra-petite 500 sq/ft size, boasts large windows and high ceilings. That, paired with a fresh white update to the previously “mocha” colour palette this unit was wearing, I had a best-case-scenario backdrop for putting my “tiny house” styling skills to work when we first moved in.
Rather than opting for the logical two bedroom setup that most people/ parents/ sane humans would choose, I was captivated by this early 1900’s studio suite. With a few creative fixes and a hide-a-way bed tucked within the built-in shelving, we have somehow come to comfortably call this space home. I followed a few of my own rules to fit our little family and all our treasures into such a snug space, and swear that these guidelines are the only thing that saved my mental health once I began moving our belongings into the apartment.
1. White it out. Like I said, this space used to be enveloped in a coffee-meets-cream palette and it quite literally suffocated the space. While I’m a firm believer of white walls, always, it becomes especially essential with small square footage; white that creates a seamless transition between the walls, trims and ceilings allows the space as a whole to feel lighter, brighter and ultimately larger. It also creates a blank canvas for whatever colourway you are working with, both now and in the future when you inevitably have a new favourite colour of the moment… keeping your walls fresh and neutral gives you the chance to swap up your decor in a cinch, whenever the whim hits you.
2. Built-in bliss. When floorspace is the hottest of commodities, implementing built-in storage becomes a complete lifesaver. It allows for storage to live off the floor, creating a less bulky feel within the room, and keeps that sought after floorspace open for the more necessary furniture. In this space, not only are the bookshelves an awesome design feature, there is actually a roll-away bed hidden within the built-in units! Under the shelving in the main living space is a drawer that pulls out a cast iron-wheeled double bed - a feature that allowed our family to fit within the space without massively over-cluttering the apartment. The encasement frame of the cupboard bed (essentially, the cavern it rolls away into) offers counter space in both the dressing room on one side, and counter space in the kitchen on the other side… this built-in unit might just be the most creative use of space I’ve seen come with a house yet.
3. The magic of modular. While my heart is currently yearning for the Article Sven camel leather sofa, being cognisant of what works best within a given space is essential for smaller suites. I instead opted for a vintage emerald green velvet sectional; not only is this five piece modular sofa super easy to move (a major benefit when pulling out the cupboard bed at night!), it also offers a wide variety of seating options and layouts for the many, many times I get the desire to rearrange my living room. In tiny homes like this, you are often limited to where furniture can be placed, so a modular piece like this allows me to still have some creative play, even though I don’t have a lot of room to work with.
4. Style up. Just because floor space is limited, don’t feel that you’re lacking a place to display your treasures; look up, darling! People often think that with smaller rooms you should minimize artwork and use pieces that are also of a smaller scale… I call total BS on that concept. I find that daring to go bold with both both placement and size of art within a more intimate room creates a much bigger impact than just one or two carefully placed “size appropriate” options. An impressive gallery wall will also easily distract the eye from the fact that the room is light on space… it’ll simply read heavy on style! Personality is absolutely key within any home, and having a smaller dwelling absolutely does not limit you from expressing yourself.