Designing for Small Spaces

People are starting to downsize the space they live in nowadays. Increasingly, college students, bachelors, bachelorettes, newlywed couples, retirees & small families are preferring the urban areas with a small space rather than living at a bigger house in rural areas.

Tiny house. Living small. Condo living. These are the trends worldwide to solve the issue on lack of space and chaotic traffic especially here in Manila.

A typical condominium unit in the Philippines ranges from 20 square meters to 100 square meters. It’s half the size of a typical house. A space that small can fit in 2 to 4 bedrooms with a living area, dining area, kitchen, and toilet & bath.

Adjusting to a small living space can be quite difficult for some. Proper planning is the key to really maximize these areas. Storage space, an area for laundry and the need for privacy are the typical concerns when living at a condominium, but with the help of good and talented interior designers, these small spaces can be well utilized without much limitations.

I live in a condo, so I know how it feels to be confined in such a limited space. However, my husband and I are both architects so we managed to fit our furniture pieces (even the hand-me-downs) in our two-bedroom unit.

Here are a few design solutions to small space problems:

• Focus on what function you want for the area.


Image Source: Decoholic

Do you like to watch TV while lying on your bed? Do you like to cook and invite guests to eat at your place? Functions should be defined first before you buy your furniture. Moreover, your personality should reflect in your unit, otherwise, you will not enjoy living in your own space.

I had a client that prefers a big dining area to having a soft and comfortable sofa. She likes to invite her friends to eat so we decided to use a bench with her dining table so the bench can function as a seating area even if they are not dining.

• Go for an open floor plan.

open plan

Image Source : Houzz

Dividing your space doesn’t necessarily mean adding walls. An open floor plan is one where there is no wall between the common areas—living, dining and kitchen. You can divide the space by the use of a partition, an open shelf or simply adding an area rug. This also means areas are more flexible as you can easily rearrange your furniture.

• Choose the right furniture.

convertible ottoman
You’ve heard of sofa beds. But this is an ottoman-bed! Wild!

It can either be custom made or something that is ready made as long as it is space efficient. As much as possible, buy convertible furniture pieces, like a center table that doubles as a dining table, a sofa that can be converted into bed or even a four-seater dining table that can turn into a six-seater. You can easily find these in most furniture stores like Our Home, Bo Concept, Dimensione, etc.

• Make the space multi-functional.

multifunction space

Image Source: Elle decor

Make the most of your space by making it flexible to different uses. Our living area serves as our home office area as well. This is where we do most of our take home projects. Our maid’s room is also our storage area. Also, this is where our clothes are ironed.

• Create hidden storage.


Image Source: The Kitchen Design Center

Put to good use the empty spaces that just gather dust, like under your bed, under the center table, top of the kitchen cabinets, or even under the dining table. Hide items you rarely use. You will lessen the clutter by maximizing these spaces that are normally taken for granted.

• Use Mirrors.


Image Source: Domino

Adding mirrors creates an illusion that your unit is bigger than it really is. It doubles the size of space.

• Use light and neutral tone interiors and accent with pops of color.


Image Source: Design Love Fest

Neutral need not be boring. Light colors recede while dark colors advance. By properly placing colors, it will make the room appear more spacious and airy. This doesn’t mean however, that you cannot use darker colors. Dark colors can still work as accents, or used on wood trimmings/wainscoting or accessories.

Any suggestions on how you can solve your small space problems? Share your ideas with us.



2 thoughts on “Designing for Small Spaces

  1. Love your tips! I recently wrote a post about small space living room tips. Feel free to check it out to compare tips. I think small space living is going to be a very important niche in the design world, especially in expensive cities like Vancouver.


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