Interior Design Ideas: Tiny Spaces

In an increasingly digital world, clutter just doesn’t make sense anymore. Once upon a time, everyone needed bookcases, filing cabinets, shelves for records/VHS tapes/DVD’s, and space for bulky equipment. Now we have Kindles, the cloud, Netlix, Hulu, Pandora, and small and powerful handheld devices.


Along with the movement to all things digital, we’ve also witnessed a trend toward tiny houses during the last decade. Averaging in size at about 300 square feet, these small spaces rely on innovative floor plans and clean designs. New Yorkers and other large city dwellers may scoff at such dimensions. Many are used to miniscule studio apartments and high rents.


No matter how small your space, Phelan’s interior design experts can help. For nearly 80 years, we have been Iowa’s largest full-service provider of both design services and products. Our Cedar Rapids interior design experts will travel throughout the state to help getting your space looking it’s best.


Following are five suggestions to make the most of whatever space you have.

1. Color and pattern.

One of the false beliefs many people hold is that small spaces should incorporate light colors and muted tones. But don’t be afraid to use a bold palette and splashes of texture. This room, while small, uses bright pinks and blues and brings in zebra prints. Don’t be limited by your how many square feet you have. Don’t be afraid to express your personality with wacky and whimsical design styles.


2. Mirror images.

Optical illusions are a great way to make a small space appear bigger. Cue mirrors. Mirrors reflect light. More specifically, atoms behind the mirrored glass absorb photons, become excited, and give off more photons. The atoms catch light and they throw it back. What could be a better way to trick your eye into thinking you’re living in a much bigger area? So, in addition to using mirrors on your walls in clever ways, also consider mirrored furniture like this lovely cabinet. The Lucite lamp atop is a nice bright addition too.

lexington royalkahalamirrored

3. Light and bright.

Even the largest, most cavernous room will seem small with dingy and dark lighting. So if you’re working with a small space, take special care to pump up the volume. Pull out all the stops and use floor lamps, chandeliers, pendant lights, tea lights, and/or task lighting. And while you’re at it, don’t forget outdoor spaces. Even if you have a tiny strip of land or an itty bitty balcony, make it a beautiful place to entertain. Any well-lit outside area can extend your interior space.

uttermost color
uttermost chandelier

4. Functional Furniture

Borrow a page from the Shakers and make sure your pieces can serve dual purposes. Carry that a step further and be savvy about your storage. Use the backs of closet doors for shoes and wrapping paper, ottomans for storing games and books, shelving to make use of vertical wall space, or this idea we love for a tiny kitchen: a rolling pantry that uses dead space on the side of your refrigerator. Genius.

lex smallpatio

5. Divide and Conquer

If you have a studio apartment, there are plenty of ways to create separate spaces for separate activities. We like the sheer curtain here that creates a subtle, but distinct, sleeping area. In addition, the bright white and soft creamy palette give the illusion of a much larger space.

photo 5

We hope you’ve enjoyed these decorating ideas. At Phelan’s in Cedar Rapids interior design is taken seriously, our highly trained design associates are constantly learning new trends and techniques through travel, seminars, factory tours, and ongoing education. So these five ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Contact us today to learn how we can transform your small space.