Small-space style

Make every inch of a small home count with these inventive design ideas, creative organization tips, and decorating strategies

16 smart strategies for small-home décor

In a small space, being creative with color, materials, and layout yields big payoffs—and savings

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Before getting creative

At the height of Seattle’s real estate market in 2003, when Leah and Chad Steen bought their first home, the property was far from picture perfect. “There was no landscaping; the previous owners even left us a note about the sad-looking Charlie Brown tree in the front yard,” says Leah, who owns Revival Home & Garden (, a shop in Capitol Hill. “But the house had tons of character, and there weren’t holes in the ceiling, like other places we’d seen.”

The early-1900s house’s footprint (1,300 square feet) is small, and the high sticker price left little cash for decorating. But limits only bred creativity. “Designing a small space means you can be discriminating, and vibrant decor updates don’t have to be pricey, just imaginative,” says Leah. Besides, “when I met Chad, he was living part-time in a VW bus, so this was definitely a step up for him.”


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