Embracing Small Living Spaces

Living Large in Compact Space

Table next to grey couch in white living room interior with posters above fireplace. | Credit: Courtesy

Truth be told, I am not originally from here. Like so many, I fell in love with the temperate climate, active lifestyle, and relatively easy way of living and never left. It’s been more than 20 years since I moved to Santa Barbara, and my love affair is still strong — with one exception: the price of real estate. Or, to be exact, the size of home which I can afford.

A quick phone call with my parents and you’ll know that I could move back to my hometown and easily purchase an expansive home with a large yard and the latest upgrades, conveniently located next to my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. 

For many of us, choosing to live here means sacrificing the size of home in which we live for the climate, ocean, and lifestyle we love. Over the years, I have come to embrace smaller spaces and offer these tips to make rooms feel as large as possible.

Select furniture that fits the space.  I’m just going to say it: Your L-shaped sofa with a chaise is likely too large for the cottage or bungalow in which you live. Selecting furniture that is appropriately sized to the room is critical in making a room feel as large as possible. Try selecting a standard sofa instead of an L-shaped one and increase conversation areas by adding some low-profile swivel chairs. 

Use a monochromatic color scheme.  Contrasting colors can visually break up a room, making it appear smaller. By selecting furniture pieces that are similar in color, your eye sees one large color block, helping to create the illusion of a larger room. 

Purchase a bed with drawers.  Having another place to store linens and clothing is great, but eliminating the need for a dresser altogether is even better. Too much clothing? Time to reread Marie Kondo!

Sign up for Indy Today to receive fresh news from Independent.com, in your inbox, every morning.

Place your bed against the wall.  I’m rarely in favor of placing any piece of furniture against a wall, but in small spaces, it may be necessary. Rather than positioning your bed in the middle of the room, move it against a wall to free up precious space. Best of all, this trick is free! 

Add an oversized mirror.  Mirrors generally increase the visual size of a room, helping to bounce light and create a more open feeling. Leaning an oversized floor mirror against the wall is a great way to increase the sense of space in a room.

Opt for cabinets instead of a bookcase.  There is nothing that makes a small space feel more cramped than being able to see every item in the room, so swap out a bookcase with open shelving for a cabinet or sideboard with doors. Keeping your collection of cookbooks, your Wi-Fi router, and your home office printer organized behind doors helps hide smaller items, allowing your eye to move freely across the room.

Stretch with stripes.  A narrow living room may be short on space, but a quick fix to make it feel larger is simple: Add a striped area rug. The longer the area rug, the more spacious your living room will feel. 

Although I can’t add actual square footage to your living spaces, I hope these tips help you love wherever you call home. And remember, smaller rooms means less to clean!

Christine S. Cowles is owner of Styled & Staged Santa Barbara, offering home staging and interior styling services. She is a certified Staging Design Professional™, member of Santa Barbara Association of Realtors and Real Estate Staging Association, and a proud WEV graduate. She can be reached at info@styledandstagedsb.com.

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.