3 Design Tips To Make A Small Living Space Feel Bigger — Without Blowing Your Budget

Spring is officially here, and each year I celebrate its long awaited arrival with three symbolic events: first, I indulge in no less than two al fresco mimosas; second, I contemplate shaving my legs after a glorious five-month hiatus; and third, I splurge on extra durable trash bags and begin the annual spring cleaning of my 200 square-foot studio apartment. There are tons of ways to make small spaces feel bigger, and each year, without fail, as I rummage through the stacks of used books, outdated magazines, and dusty birthday cards living under my tattered box spring, agonizing over what stays and what goes, I think to myself, "This is the year I'll do it. I'll get crafty, I'll get organized, and figure out how to maximize my small living space so I can justify hanging on to a thing or two from the past without feeling like I'm auditioning for a revival of Hoarders." 

While I'd love nothing more than to blow my entire life's savings on a custom-made California closet complete with ventilated shelving and hand-woven utility baskets, I remind my more practical self why I dwell in this 200 square-foot studio in the first place — like most millennials, I live on a budget. But that doesn't mean I have to give up on my dreams of organization and maximization altogether. Instead, I can get creative and work to create the illusion of 400 square-feet. Lucky for me and my meager bank account, the Internet is full of DIY designers who have made it their life's mission to teach pack rat urbanites like me how to maximize our small living spaces while adhering to a strict budget. 

And apparently, it's really not that difficult. Interior designers from IHeart Organizing, Design Mom, and Fashion Bomb Daily share three tried and true tips on how to maximize a small living space — whether it be a bedroom, living room, or home office — using less money and more creativity. 

Design Tip No. 1: Use a combo of mirrors to create the illusion of extra space 

Fashion Bomb Daily blogger Claire Sulmers knows exactly how to expand a small space via trickery, creating the illusion of a larger, light-filled bedroom. Sulmers says, "Mirrors really open up a room. I like to mix it up and use a combo of mounted and floor length mirrors. You can just lean them up against a wall, or incorporate them around the room in unexpected ways. For example, I bought this amazing side table from HomeGoods with mirrored panels on the drawers (under $250!) — it really makes the room pop." 

Design Tip No. 2: Experiment with multi-functional pieces

Jennifer Jones is the creative genius behind design blog IHeart Organizing, where she encourages readers to add special touches that keep you motivated and organized while working from home. And according to Jones, mobility is a great way to motivate. She uses this acrylic bar cart as a mobile desk that can roll about any small office space. And the absolute best part? You don't have to limit yourself just to the office. Jones adds, "Bar carts are extremely versatile pieces of furniture. Not only are they the ideal hot spot to dock a laptop and store reams of paper, they also work great in a bathroom for [storing and organizing] toiletries."

Design Tip No. 3: Color block to create a decorative yet purposeful space 

There's no need to hide your everyday appliances in cluttered cabinets and hard-to-reach closet shelves. Design Mom blogger and world traveler Gabrielle Blair loves to keep her everyday items out in the open, pairing them with colorblocked keepsakes she's picked up throughout her travels. "Arranging a display on your shelves doesn't have to be daunting. That's why I love colorblocking — I group pieces together by shade for a look that’s both chic and purposeful. A great way to do this is by taking everyday items that you'd normally tuck away in a cupboard — from simple fruit bowls to outdoor ceramic lanterns — and displaying them together on the shelf." And voila, now you've maximized your space by combining utilitarian pieces with heartfelt memories. It's a win-win. 

To check out more creative and inexpensive space maximizing ideas, head on over to Twitter for a look at the HomeGoods spring cleaning-inspired #makehomeyours campaign. 

Images: HomeGoods (4)

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