The Art of Maximizing Small Spaces in NYC: A Designer’s Guide

studio dlg maximizing small spaces in new york city nyc

David Guth of the New York City-based interior design firm Studio DLG is a design expert and is especially skilled when it comes to maximizing small spaces in NYC! With a BA in Architectural History from NYU and an MA in Interior Design from Pratt Institute, David has received notable acclaim, including being named in 2022 as Build-Review.com’s ‘Leading Full-Service Residential Interior Design Studio’ in New York City and as ‘Best of Houzz’ for both service and design. Read on and be inspired to create your dream small space!


Imagine living inside of a diamond, compact yet dazzling. Every corner perfectly cut, every facet brilliantly reflects light—that’s what you can achieve for your small space in New York City with the right interior design tips and strategies. Ingenious solutions and an experienced eye convert tight corners into hidden treasures and transform restrictive dimensions into inspired creations. Your square footage might be finite. But your creativity doesn’t have to be; because who says you need a palace to live like royalty? This article will offer quick tips, unexpected strategies, and distinctive designs ideal for tiny New York apartments.

Making the most of a small living space can seem challenging, but there are several practical tips that can help. One way is to cut down on visual clutter by implementing an intentional storage plan and giving items assigned spots. Multipurpose furniture and sneaking in storage wherever possible is also key. Additionally, using mobile furniture, applying the same color palette throughout the space, and keeping things off the floor can all help open up smaller spaces. With a bit of creativity and planning, you can make your small living space feel larger and more functional than ever before.

Maximize the Space You Have


Though residing in a confined area might present challenges, by employing some inventiveness, you can still optimize your available space. The first step towards maximizing your small space is to identify all available areas. Do not underestimate any corner or wall since they can have storage or other purposes.

For instance, consider using vertical space by installing shelves from floor to ceiling. This provides ample storage space for books, clothes, and other personal items while freeing up floor space. Also, consider furniture that could serve multiple uses, like a bed with drawers underneath or a sofa bed to save on room.

Another way of making the most of your small space is by getting rid of unnecessary items. This will create more room, reducing clutter, and providing free walking space in your home. If you find it difficult to let go of memorabilia or old items, then consider investing in storage bins or cabinets where these items are out of sight.

While having a lot of accessories can congest your tiny living area, it’s still important to remember that personal touches and objects give character and style to any living space. Make sure the items you choose reflect your personality and interests to make your small living area feel cozy and special.

It’s helpful to think about how organizing a closet works when thinking about maximizing the use of smaller spaces; if you intelligently organize it now by placing things within easy reach and certain groupings together, it makes it much easier and enjoyable going forward to access what you need without difficulty.

Once you have identified areas in your home that could be utilized more efficiently, it’s critical that you have an approach for optimizing them which brings us to the next section: clever storage approaches.

maximizing small spaces in nyc david guth studio dlg storage vertical space bookshelves

Clever Storage Approaches

There are several approaches to clever storage that can help you maximize your small space. One of the best ways is using walls for utility purposes like hanging hooks, baskets, and shelves for storing smaller items. You could also consider mounting additional cabinets on the walls to store kitchenware and other essentials.

A great bedroom storage idea is replacing traditional furniture with multipurpose pieces. A bed frame with in-built drawers provides ample storage for linen and clothing, while a storage stool or ottoman can serve as both seating and storage.

Another approach to clever storage is incorporating the use of mirrored doors or walls, which generates an illusion of depth in the room. This will make your living space appear more significant, open, and bright.

Floating shelves are very useful, but too many can be overwhelming. A great alternative is to invest in a custom-built cabinet made with integrated drawers. This will provide more room in designated spaces for specific items, allowing you to have a clean and organized living space.

Also, consider using drawer organizers in your kitchen. They’re designed to keep things sectioned off by groupings, so it’s easier not to lose track of what you have or need quickly. Look into modular closet organizers, too; these systems allow for customization based on your specific needs while still providing an organized approach.

With these tips in mind regarding maximizing space and clever storage approaches, now let’s discuss principles to create a seamless design technique when it comes to styling a confined area.

Making Use of Walls and Vertical Space

When it comes to small space design, walls, and vertical space are often overlooked areas for creating functional solutions. The goal is to use every inch of available space. Vertical storage is an excellent option in rooms like the kitchen or bathroom where counter space is limited.

One way to make use of your kitchen walls is by installing shelves that start at the countertop level and go up to the ceiling. This can be a place to store dishes, glasses, and other items that you might not need on a daily basis. You could also put floating shelves above your stove to house cooking utensils and spices rather than taking up precious counter space with a bulky spice rack.

Using vertical storage solutions is similar to building up in New York City. Just as skyscrapers take advantage of their height to create more living/working spaces within their footprint, using walls and vertical space allows you to expand your storage without taking away floor space.

Another benefit of utilizing walls and vertical space is improved organization. This type of storage provides clear visual cues that reduce clutter and help you locate items quickly.

In the bathroom, a tall, slim cabinet can fit nicely between the vanity and the toilet. If you have tight quarters, consider mounting cabinets above the toilet instead of using floor-standing pieces. This trick frees up floor room for things like hampers and laundry baskets.

While hanging objects on walls is a great way to leverage underutilized space, it’s essential not to go overboard with too many decorations. In small areas, an excessive number of wall hangings can make spaces feel more cramped rather than spacious.

Maximizing wall and vertical space isn’t just about storage; it’s also about decor and adding character to your space.

Small Space, Big Style: Design Principles


A small room can be as stylish and chic as a larger one if well-designed. The key to achieving this is selecting the right furniture and decor pieces that complement the space while also creating an element of grandeur.

One crucial principle when styling small spaces is selecting appropriately scaled furniture that doesn’t overwhelm the room. Consider pairing one oversized item with smaller complementary pieces rather than filling up space with lots of things that don’t coordinate.

Selecting furniture proportions for small-area living is akin to tailoring clothes- everything needs to fit right for an outstanding result.

Suppose you are working on a bedroom design that has a low ceiling. In that case, you may want to opt for a platform bed since these create lower profiles with clean lines and have additional storage space beneath. You might also include some floating shelves in place of a dresser, which takes up more square footage in the room.

It’s also essential when designing small rooms to consider visual flow and avoid overly contrasting items. A harmonious scheme and specific colors are more important than bold statements because they help keep the eye moving around the room without getting stuck on any single item.

For example, suppose you have cream-colored walls in your living room. In that case, you could choose chairs that combine shades of beige, terracotta, or honey hues to complete the look rather than introducing bold primary colors that pop out too much and destroy the calm aura.

Ultimately, creating an illusion of grandeur in a tiny area comes down to being strategic and thoughtful about your furniture selection, color schemes, and focal points.

low profile furniture and glossy finishes light color tone for maximized small space

Choosing the Right Furniture and Layout

When it comes to maximizing small spaces, the right furniture and layout are key. The first step is to measure your space and choose furniture that is appropriate in scale. In a small room, large pieces of furniture can make the space feel cramped and cluttered. When selecting furniture, consider multifunctional pieces that can serve multiple purposes. For example, an ottoman with built-in storage can be extra seating while also providing a spot to store blankets or books.

Another important consideration when choosing furniture is its placement within the room. Avoid blocking windows or doorways, as this can create a feeling of confinement. Instead, try to arrange pieces in a way that maximizes the flow of natural light and creates an open sightline across the room. This could mean positioning sofas and chairs in a circular arrangement for easy conversation or angling a desk towards a window for optimal light.

While it may be tempting to stick to small-scale furniture exclusively in tiny rooms, this approach can actually backfire if not balanced correctly. Introducing one larger piece of furniture, such as a statement chair or sofa, or functional and fashionable armoire can add depth to the space and create visual interest. Just be sure to balance it out with other smaller-scaled furnishings such as side tables or ottomans.

Additionally, consider pieces that have multiple functions, such as a daybed that is perfect for overnight guests but can easily double as a comfortable seating area during the day.

Once you’ve chosen your furniture pieces, it’s time to think about how they work together in terms of layout.

Implementing Color and Lighting for Illusion of Space

Color and lighting are two powerful tools when it comes to making small spaces appear larger than they really are.

One strategy for creating the illusion of space is to choose a color palette that is light and airy. Painting walls, ceilings, and trim in the same light color can help reduce visual clutter. Employing a technique known as monochromatic decorating, using various shades of the same color throughout the space can further enhance this illusion.

When it comes to lighting, natural light is always ideal for opening up small spaces. But for those rooms that don’t get much sunlight, there are other options to consider. Utilizing wall sconces instead of floor lamps can free up valuable floor space, while pendant lights or chandeliers can draw the eye upward and create a sense of height.

Mirrors are another effective way to create the illusion of more space. Not only do they reflect light and make rooms appear brighter, but they also give the impression of depth and movement when placed strategically on walls or within furnishings.

Finally, don’t shy away from patterned decor altogether, but use it sparingly. An area rug with a small-scale pattern can anchor furniture in the room without overwhelming it or making it feel smaller than it actually is.

By employing smart furniture choices and taking advantage of creative color and lighting techniques, you can make your small space feel both functional and beautiful.

passion sconce koket

Multipurpose Furniture: The Key to Efficiency


If you live in a small space, you know that everything, down to the inch, counts. One of the best ways to make sure that every piece of furniture serves you efficiently is by opting for multipurpose furniture. The concept of multitasking your furniture is not only practical, but it’s also cost-effective and minimizes clutter.

One example of a multipurpose furniture item is a daybed. A daybed can be used as a bed at night and then serve as a couch during the day, giving your living room or bedroom an additional seating area without taking up too much space.

Another excellent option for those who love to entertain friends and family but don’t have space for a full-sized dining table is a coffee-to-dining table. This functional piece starts as a low coffee table when collapsed and then expands into a full-sized dining table that can comfortably seat six people.

Additionally, consider investing in flexible seating options such as nesting stools or ottomans with hidden storage. Nesting stools give you multiple seats that stack together when not in use to save space, while ottomans help keep pillows, throws, and other essentials organized.

It’s also vital to think about using multi-functional pieces like storage benches. Not only do they add extra seating to any space, but they also provide extra storage underneath the bench coats, shoes, books, and more.

Adding murphy beds into your design can give you an entirely new perspective on how you can use your floor plans and have extra living areas within your home. During the day, it can be upright against the wall, creating floor space for other activities inside your apartment or office without compromising on aesthetics or functionality.

Multi-functional pieces can be both practical and cost-efficient. For instance, instead of purchasing both a bed frame and storage closets separate from each other – opt for a platform bed that incorporates storage drawers into the base itself. Many of these beds come with hydraulic systems, which make it easy to lift and stow away items stored beneath.

While multipurpose furniture comes in handy when looking to maximize your small living space, it’s important to carefully evaluate the pieces you select. Always prioritize functionality and be mindful of whether you are getting an item that can serve multiple purposes. Avoiding potential impulse purchases that clutter your limited space helps save room for what truly matters in your living area.

Now that we’ve covered how choosing multifunctional furniture can transform your living space, let’s focus on inventive décor techniques.

interior design by david guth studio dlg

Inventive Small Space Decor Techniques


Maximizing every square inch of limited living space while maintaining its aesthetic appeal is not an easy task, but it’s definitely achievable with the following hacks:

Hanging artwork or pictures vertically up your ceiling draws people’s focus upwards, creating the illusion of taller ceilings and more environment overall. It’s also best to stick with smaller sizes since larger prints can become overwhelming in smaller settings.

Consider incorporating reflective materials like angular mirrors or glossy tiles into your interior design. These elements achieve a mirroring effect that makes rooms seem lighter and wider than they genuinely are.

Invest in ergonomic home office desks. Also, ergonomic chairs, such as stools, allow you to sit more upright with better posture, increasing productivity levels while taking less space.

While shelving throughout the apartment allows for visible storage and displays, custom-made high shelving combined with ladders provides lovely visual details in your space without overcrowding small spaces or making them appear denser than they already are.

Installing sconces on walls instead of using floor lamps not only minimizes floor space use but also adds elegance to ceilings and walls. Sconces come in all shapes and designs, such as metallic finishes and other sleek modern options, depending on your style.

Lastly, when living in a small space, it’s imperative to avoid visual clutter. A tidy and organized space can be achieved by maximizing the use of intentional storage plans. Use containers like baskets, bins, and hooks to save floor space while still providing optimal storage space for your items. Applying the same color scheme or pattern repetition throughout your apartment can also achieve the illusion of minimal clutter.

One disadvantage to keep in mind is that built-in shelving takes up valuable square footage along bare walls that could instead be used for free-standing furniture or even additional seating areas. When utilizing shelves within small spaces, it’s important not to overwhelm the wall space available.

Now that we’ve covered some inventive techniques for decorating small spaces let’s look at other creative ideas that can help you optimize every inch of your home.

maximizing small spaces in nyc david guth studio dlg living room design

Creative Use of Reflective Materials and Glass

Small spaces can often feel cramped or suffocating due to their limited size, but there are several ways to create the illusion of more space with clever design techniques. One such technique is through using reflective materials and glass in strategic locations around the room.

For instance, incorporating mirrored surfaces into your décor can magically transform any small room by reflecting light and making it appear larger. An array of mirror forms and dimensions are available, allowing you to select one that matches your aesthetic preference and financial limitations. A full-length mirror can lean casually against a wall, or you can opt for an oversized round mirror to add a little drama to your space.

Additionally, glass tabletops, shelves, partitions, and doors can make any room feel more spacious by letting light circulate freely throughout. Glass not only bounces natural light around a room but also creates visual continuity between different areas of your home. By breaking up sections with a glass divider or door, you create distinct areas without interrupting the flow between them.

However, some people may worry about the safety aspects of having so much glass in a small space, especially if they have kids or pets running around. It is important to consider tempered glass options and ensure proper safety measures are taken when installing these features.

Placing large mirrors behind low-profile furniture pieces such as sofas can give off the illusion that there’s a whole new room hidden behind it. This creates an entirely new depth perception that will trick even the most discerning guests into thinking they’re in an entirely different space!

There is no denying that small spaces come with their unique challenges. But by thinking outside the box with reflective materials and glass features integrated cleverly throughout your home decor plan, you can transform even the tiniest home into a well-lighted and spacious haven that everyone will love.

Cleverly incorporating reflective materials and glass features into small spaces can create the illusion of more space and make any room feel larger and more open. Mirrors can reflect light and come in different shapes and sizes to suit individual styles and budgets. While glass tabletops, shelves, partitions, and doors allow natural light to circulate freely throughout the room. They also create visual continuity between different areas of the home. However, safety measures should be taken when installing these features, especially if there are kids or pets in the home. By placing large mirrors behind low-profile furniture pieces, you can create an entirely new depth perception. This will trick guests into thinking they’re in a different space altogether. With clever design techniques, even the tiniest home can be transformed into a spacious haven.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, making the most out of limited living spaces does not have to be a daunting task. Think of it as a game of chess. Each piece, no matter how small, serves a vital purpose. And careful strategy can turn the tide. By leveraging the guidelines outlined in this article, from maximizing the space you have at your disposal to adopting clever storage approaches and utilizing walls and vertical spaces, you can skillfully maneuver within your own living space, ‘chessboard’ and transform your small space into a functional, stylish, and efficient haven.

Consideration of furniture choices and layout plays a key role in space optimization, and incorporating multipurpose furniture can significantly enhance the efficiency of your home. Furthermore, by strategically implementing color and lighting techniques, you can create the illusion of a larger space. Embracing inventive decor techniques and the creative use of reflective materials and glass can add an extra layer of depth, making your space appear bigger and brighter.

Therefore, with thoughtful planning, creativity, and the application of the principles discussed in this comprehensive guide, you can transform your small living space into a roomier, more aesthetically pleasing environment that surpasses the limitations of its actual square footage.

Photo Credits: Interiors by David Guth, Studio DLG | Photos Courtesy of Studio DLG

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