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Furniture for a Compact Living Space

The challenges of living in a small space can seem like an obstacle to chic design. Problem-solving how to fit belongings into a compact area may take energy that would normally be spent on fun decor details. Is there room for both function and style? Absolutely! Now more than ever, designers are creating furniture for small interiors, such as flats and apartments. The good news: With a little thought and a few helpful strategies, a space-challenged dwelling can become an ideal home.

Choosing furnishings that are an appropriate size for the room is the first step in decorating a small interior.  Selecting airy pieces that lighten the space, or focusing on modular furniture that can be moved as needed will broaden design options. Finally, don’t hesitate to prioritize pieces that serve more than one purpose. Here are some furniture finds that make compact living stylishly manageable.

Compact Furniture

Compact Beds

Begin by selecting pieces that fit the room. While it may be tempting to purchase a large item that catches your eye, many of today’s furnishings are designed specifically to maximize space. For example, the STORA Loft bed frame is elevated to allow room for seating or a desk underneath. [from IKEA]

Defy all expectations by taking the bed to new heights. Mobile beds by Espace Loggia have a self-supported structure that makes raising and lowering the item as easy as it is practical. Higher than a loft, the placement of the bed creates a clean-lined canopy effect, adding modern style to the room.

While some sleeping options allow for storage below, others create room for storage above. For example, a low-to-the-ground bed makes overhead cabinetry a reality. As an added bonus, choose a bed on wheels that can easily be stowed during daytime hours to increase floor space. [image below from Furniture for Children]

Compact Tables and Seating

A desk with narrow legs creates space for an item or two below. For example, the Flat-Bar Desk has a thin wooden top and a skinny metal frame. Elegant enough to be a console table, the piece transforms into a desk with the addition of a chair. [from West Elm]

Stash compact stools against a wall and pull them out when extra seating is needed. The Quad Persimmon Stool fits neatly under a console table. Don’t be afraid to collect more than one–a small size and attractive design make these pieces display-worthy. Their bright coloring helps to create a bold vignette when they’re placed under tall pieces. [from CB2]

What could be more helpful than a space-efficient furnishing on wheels? The STRIND Coffee Table is round and compact. The best part: It can be wheeled to the side to create additional room in the middle of a space! [from IKEA]

Modular Furniture

Modular Seating

The advantage of modular furniture is its ability to be arranged in a way that’s perfect for the space at hand. Customizable and movable, modular items are versatile and ever-evolving. The KIVIC one-seat section shown below can be purchased in units. Group it with others for one continuous sofa, or separate pieces with a bit of room in between. [from IKEA]

We now revisit the Quad stool, which was featured above. In the image below, we see how two of these modular pieces (in gray) can be combined to create a bench. Better yet, place them side by side in the middle of a room for an instant coffee table that can be deconstructed when additional seating is required. [from CB2]

Modular Shelving and More

For a cutting-edge take on modular design, check out the More furniture system. Its modern units provide endless design options, including seating, tables and shelving. Better yet, create an entire wall of storage with these pieces for an instant room divider in a small space. [from Caporaso Design]

Modular kitchen furniture is ideal for small spaces, as units can be combined to fit the needs of the room. When mounted on the wall, modular cabinets and counters can even make room for storage below. [from Trendzona]

Modular Kitchens

 See-Through Furniture

Acrylic Tables

If you can see through it, is it really there? These transparent furnishings make a room seem larger with their light as a feather look, yet their style makes a big statement. The Peekaboo Clear Console is the perfect acrylic solution to small office space dilemmas. [from CB2]

On a similar note, the Peekaboo Clear Coffee Table is ideal for tight spaces in the middle of small living rooms. Its molded acrylic form gets noticed, yet the piece allows the rug underneath to shine through, creating a “barely there” effect.[from CB2]

Acrylic Chairs

Acrylic chairs are the perfect solution to tight dining room spaces. They complement tables of any style, and they create the illusion of space with their transparency. The Anime Acrylic Chair by Zuo (shown below) adds a touch of color with its orange tint. [from Factory eStores]

Where does one stash a chair in a tight space? If the chair is clear acrylic, it can go almost anywhere. The Acrylic Lounge Chair by Aaron R. Thomas has a look that’s both retro and modern, and due to its brilliant design, it blends well in any setting. [from ART Everyday]

Dual-Function Furniture

Pull-Down Beds

We end by spotlighting furnishings that serve more than one purpose. When a single piece has multiple functions, the need for excess furniture is eliminated. Isn’t the goal of small-space design to say more with less?! The Cabrio In pull down desk bed (shown below) is a desk by day and a bed by night. The best part is the extra storage provided on either side. [from Bonbon Compact Living Solutions]


Also available from Bonbon is the Lollidesk fold away bed with office table unit. Once again, a work space transforms into a sleeping space, converting into a single bed with a slatted base. A handy ladder makes the climb possible. [from Bonbon Compact Living Solutions]

Multi-Functional Furniture

Below, the Framed Side Table from West Elm doubles as a TV tray, making couch-side dining a reality. The design of the piece also makes it ideal for laptop desk duty.

Some sofa beds involve a complicated setup process, but the BEDINGE LOVAS Sofa Bed is easily convertible. An attractive steel frame, sleeping space for two, and availability in a variety of colors give the piece added appeal. Also note the clever placement of the small white desk behind the sofa bed in the image below. [from IKEA]

What happens when plentiful seating is required but the space is ultra tight? Try using footsools as benches! As noted on the IKEA website, the backless design of the KARLSTAD Footstool (shown below, left) gives these pieces the illusion of taking up minimal space. [from IKEA]

For a final dual-purpose piece, try the Sandbar Coffee Table-Bench. Its narrow shape is perfect for tiny dwellings, yet its high-gloss lacquer finish packs a powerful punch. When it’s time to entertain, turn the coffee table into a bench for extra seating. [from CB2]


Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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