Building & Renovating

RL Ideas: Big Solutions for Small Spaces (Part 1)

These strategies will help you solve common small space problems


In designing a one-bedroom condo, interior designer Leatrice Lu had two important things in mind: the 45sqm challenge and coming up with a compromise that will satisfy her client's wishes. Leatrice was able to to meet the requirements and the result is a chic and traditional condo unit made sophisticated by the patterned wallpapers and made warm by a wood panel in the living area and an antique solid wood bunk bed in the bedroom. 

To deal with the small space, Leatrice relied on custom-made, dual-purpose furniture pieces as well as tapped often-overlooked spots such as the back of the door for extra storage spaces. 

Production by Kathleen Valle. Pictorial direction by Dagny Madamba. Photographed by Jun Pinzon (unless stated otherwise).

Read the original article ("Big Solutions for Small Spaces”) in the June 2012 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.

How do you make an awkward niche useful?

Small Space Strategy: Turn a slim but deep niche into hidden storage.

To accommodate the request to have a liquor cabinet, Leatrice converted an existing slim nook in between the bedroom and kitchen into discreet storage. 

A movable shelving unit was spruced up with moldings painted pink was added. When pulled out or swiveled to the side, it reveals the shelves used for storing liquor. You may also keep items that you'd like to keep out of children's reach here. 

The hidden area was made more fun with quirky decals of wine glasses and bottles.

Where do you hide your shoes?

Small Space Strategy: Add dual-purpose furniture that's meant for showing and hiding.

Maximize your foyer or entryway by adding a simple, custom-made sideboard whose top can hold decorative elements, its bottom for discreetly storing shoes and slippers.   

What's another option for wall hangings?

Small Space Strategy: Use decals as decor.

Instead of drawing attention to a blank space, a built-in closet or wall decorated with decals is a welcome alternative. Decals look neater than other decorative elements as they aren't mounted.

How can I add a freestanding dresser?

Small Space Strategy: Create a makeshift vanity in a compact corner.

You can easily make a prepping corner by having a simple ledge with drawers built around a nook. Here, Leatrice rounded up the area with a repro Louis Ghost chair and a wooden mirror with stunning carved details painted white. 

To keep the clutter at bay, allot one catch-alls each for every category—hair products, makeup, lotion and body butters, and the like. 

I've de-cluttered my space but I still don't have no room for other items.

Small Space Strategy: Flaunt what you cannot hide.

Instead of cramming items inside cabinets, put interesting ones on display instead. A photographer’s dry box holding wine accoutrements and a folded stepladder make for a fancy vignette, especially since they’re set up against a wall with a beautiful wallpaper. 

Check back tomorrow for more small space solutions.


Storage Ideas for Small Spaces

Small Space Designer Tips

RL Tips: Small Space Solutions

For more tips and guides, click here.


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