Easy Small Space Tricks From An Interior Designer

Solve your tiny floor area woes with these ideas

Photography: Jilson Tiu (Main Photo)

For those who live in the heart of the city—whether in a condo unit or a compact apartment—it's common knowledge that space comes at a premium. If you live in a studio unit, we're sure that you've spent some time looking for ways to make your unit look huge. When dealing with small spaces, one of the first ideas you'll surely try involves adding mirrors. Yes, it can add an illusion of space, but if full-length mirrors aren't your thing, there are still a lot of tricks you can work on. Here are some of them:

Work with layers and levels.

Break your space into smaller areas, visually at least. Draw a line between your kitchen, living, dining, sleeping area, and bathroom. Aside from using a rug to separate the common and private spaces, you can also create layers and levels in the space. A clear glass panel or a step up should do the trick and separate the areas. The raised flooring can serve as additional storage space, or even house a pull-out foam bed on casters if you're planning to separate the sleeping space from the rest of the unit.

For smaller spaces where not all basic areas can be met, opt for a joint kitchen-dining/bar area or a living/dining area. You can also invest in other visual markers such as droplights, the use of accent wall finishes (to designate a specific area) or consider having a change in flooring material. Use the rule of thirds when you divide spaces or put up accent finishes.

Get creative with lines.

Emphasize the width or height of your space. Do note that it has to be one or the other. Use vertical lines to draw your attention to the height of the room and horizontal lines to feature the length of a wall. Using lines isn't limited to stripes—you may want to try wood paneling, bricks, and opting for wallpaper with horizontal/vertical prints.

The use of lines can also be applied to the finishes of your furniture and soft furnishings. A dining table with a horizontally oriented wood pattern can make the table look longer, while full height curtains in a thick striped pattern can also make a window look wider. These changes can help make a small space look bigger than it actually is.


Add transparent furniture pieces and accessories in the mix.

In photo: Allegro Transparent Low Table, price available upon request, Habitat

Clear pieces can help you make your space look less visually cluttered. A couple of ghost chairs or a transparent coffee table can trick the eye into thinking that there is actually more free space in the studio. Use sheer window treatments to let natural light in and create depth with the view outside your window. In the bathroom, clear glass partitions or a transparent shower curtain can make it look and feel bigger as well.

Shop for your furniture and storage pieces wisely.

Multipurpose furniture pieces are your friends. Anything that folds can be placed against the wall and has more use than one. Maximize the storage potential of your chosen pieces—look for ottomans with storage, consider having drawers under your bed or dining bench, and look into the possibility of adding cabinets under your sink. Avoid chunky furniture because they take up too much of your space. Choose furniture pieces with legs rather than a whole base in order to show part of the floor.

Make use of hanging pieces, like a built-in TV console, floating side tables, and shelves, to name a few. Stack your hanging shelves on top of each other to create a focal point. Make sure to leave some space when you accessorize them so that you can still see parts of the wall.

Get rid of clutter.

This is probably the hardest thing to do, but it's an obvious solution to your small space challenge. Items that you haven't used in the past year are unnecessary. Do you love keeping trinkets from your trips? See if these are still in good condition. Throw away broken pieces and store those you want to keep in proper storage or even in your parent's house. In a small space, you need to avoid clutter and every piece needs to have its own spot. Letting go of things you no longer need can help you maximize the space to its full potential.

READ: 12 Things To Throw Away Before January Ends


Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]




Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

More on

5 Ways To Make Small Spaces Look Elegant

12 Clever Small Space Tips From Design Professionals

5 Small Space Makeovers from 5 to 30 Square Meters


Latest Stories

Keep Your Home Cool While Avoiding A High Electricity Bill This Summer

You don’t need to leave the AC unit turned on 24/7

How I Moved Out of the Family Home and Survived Living Alone

A young photojournalist shares the triumphs and struggles of living independently

This House in Pasig Has Been Under Renovation For Years

Architect Pierre Briones transformed a dated property into a stunning home filled with wooden touches, designer pieces, and handpicked accessories

This TV Show Does Home Makeovers In 15 Hours

And some of the decorators (and one judge!) are Pinoy. Check out this amazing makeover show.

This Museum In a Bahay Na Bato Is a Lesson In Pinoy History

In photos: The Destileria Limtuaco Museum in Intramuros will delight your mind and eye, not only your tastebuds

This Elevated Walkway In Ortigas Makes Pasig A More Walkable City

The walkway is one of a series of new pedestrian areas rising in Ortigas Center

How Do You Divide Conjugal Property When You Get Annulled?

It's not as simple as 50/50.

4 Questions To Ask Your Interior Designer

Develop a healthy relationship with your design professional for a beautiful home

Designer Pieces We Love in Derek Ramsay’s House in Alabang

The actor doesn’t shy away from investing in pieces that make his home distinct and personal

6 Ways To Increase Storage At Home

From custom-designed pieces to minimalist shelves, explore clever ideas to amp up your storage potential

Here's How To Keep Your Clothes Wrinkle-Free When Traveling

Get perfect OOTD's with this handy (and travel-friendly) gadget!

Neutral Colors Make This 50sqm Condo Unit Extra Homey

Taking inspiration from an accent wall, interior designers Honey Mutia Cervantes and Rosa Manduriao were able to achieve a modern yet comfy look for a one-bedroom vacation home in the city
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!