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12 Clever Small Space Tips From Design Professionals

You can't go wrong with these expert-approved home ideas

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Photography: Michael Angelo Chua and Jilson Tiu (Main Photo)

Whether it's your first time to move into a compact home or you've been living tiny for quite a while, it's safe to say that making small spaces work can pose a real challenge. 

Don't worry, we've got your back! From picking out furniture to styling different nooks, the Real Living team and some trusty designers are here to shell out helpful tips and ideas. Check them out below: 


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"Don't go small. People tend to put a lot of small furniture in a small space, which clutters up the room. I have seen a lot of small sofa sets out there that are not even comfortable. Use a normal size sofa that you can actually enjoy using, and just add one accent chair. A few key functional pieces is way better than a lot of small ones." —Elle Uy, interior decorator and graphic designer

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"Work out a plan where storage is incorporated from the start to eliminate future headaches of where to place things. If space is tight, look up and look down—storage can be above your desk and below your bed." —Lisa Salvador, interior designer


"Wood furniture can add heaviness to an already-small room. Choose mirrored or transparent furniture pieces instead. Up close, they're glamorous, and from afar, they visually disappear!" —Rachelle Medina, editor-in-chief

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"Curtains with elaborate prints or bold colors can be used as inexpensive, space-saving alternatives to sliding door panels for closets, as well as offer graphic drama that accentuate the space." —Van Acuna-Solana, interior designer



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"Caught in a book storage dilemma? Layer books on top of the coffee table or stack them near the sofa for a boho feel to your space." —Dagny Madamba, former deputy associate editor


"Scour the home stores for a dining table with a drop-leaf mechanism. Or ask your contractor or designer to make a sturdy yet foldable table you can lay flat to the side when not in use." —Kathleen Valle, former managing editor

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"Plan your space based on the kind of lifestyle you have. If you love cooking and having people over for dinner, prioritize the dining area by adding a comfortable banquette instead of individual chairs to encourage long conversations." —Elle Uy, interior decorator and graphic designer


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"Opt for sliding cabinet doors instead of swinging ones especially in small kitchens. This will reduce the risk of someone bumping into open cabinet doors. Sliding doors also have a sleeker look that figures well in small space." —Katherine Lopez, former associate features editor


"Tired of modern-Zen condos? Try a classical style instead with carved slipper chairs, damask, and crystal chandeliers, as this can lend a jewel box feel to a tiny space. Just offset the ornamentation by using small scale pieces and neutral colors." —Rachelle Medina, editor-in-chief

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"If you often eat out and don't host dinners, make do without the usual dining table and go for a counter with barstools instead. It's more practical and leaves more room for items important to you." —Kathleen Valle, former managing editor


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"A small bedroom with a large window makes the space seem larger; your view extends further on the horizon. Plus it brings in more light and ventilation, which make small spaces feel large." —Lisa Salvador, interior designer



"When there is no room for a nightstand beside the bed, a ledge or floating shelf installed above the bed can function as a spot for favorite objects." —Van Acuna-Solana, interior designer 

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The original article ("Big Solutions For Small Spaces") appeared in the June 2012 issue of Real Living Magazine. 

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