How To Maximize Your Small Space

Bright blue couch

When interior designer, Dee Murphy, and blogger, Jamie Stone, teamed up to make over Jamie’s apartment, the results ended up packing tons of small-space style! Scroll on for the mini tour, plus all of their multifunctional tips, too.

After moving into a new West Hollywood apartment last June, I asked interior designer, Dee Murphy, to help me create a new space for myself. Even though the 1950s-style one-bedroom feels small to most, it’s actually the biggest apartment I’ve ever lived in as an adult (said the New Yorker), so I really wanted to find a way to properly use my first-ever dining room, and, of course, also find creative ways to maximize the space. Scroll on for some of our best tips to maximize your own small space, plus a few of my personal thoughts on the process.

Blue living room sofas

White vase

Living room serving tray // Green velvet settee

Open It Up

Dee Murphy: When designing a small space in an open floor plan, it is important to create clearly expressed zones throughout, but in a way that keeps the areas open and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. For example, avoid cutting rooms in “half” with screens or any objects that will block a visual path! Besides the obvious choice in dining versus living room furniture, we decided to paint half way up the walls surrounding Jamie’s living room space to give it personality all its own. The transition to the dining area is seamless because of the soft neutrality of the paint color we chose. 

Jamie Stone: I was super hesitant to paint when Dee first suggested it; I’m a renter, I’m lazy and I also really don’t like the color pink all that much. But after much deliberation and friend surveying, I decided to go for it and I’m so happy that I did. I think the half wall of “blush” (as we call it) paint really adds a warm touch to the living room and makes the space feel more open and lived-in.

Gray painted dining room buffet

Half pink wall

Lay It Out

DM: Area rugs are another straightforward way to designate zones without obstructing the view. I like to layer them for textural interest and warmth. 

JS: One of the first compliments I consistently get when someone walks into my apartment is, “Wow, I never would have thought to layer two area rugs. It looks so good!”

Oriental dining room rug

Dining room rug // Geoid art // Curtains

Blue sofa in the living room


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Navy zebra rug // Jade sand and beige area rug // Coffee table

Tie It Together

DM: Even though the goal is to differentiate, the common spaces still need to feel cohesive. Jamie’s sofas were staying, so I wanted to showcase their beautiful blue hue by tying in that color elsewhere. The geode art in the dining room was one of the first purchase decisions I made! When deciding on the art piece to hang on the largest wall, I told Jamie to look for warm colors that pulled out the golden and yellow hints from the geodes to bring everything back full circle. 

JS: I love my bright blue couches and it makes so much sense to use that color in other areas of a small space so that, as Dee said, it feels cohesive. Finding art is hard because it’s such a personal thing, but when Dee said to find something golden yellow for the living room, I was instantly drawn to this piece from Minted. Yellow was actually the color of my childhood bedroom so it gives me some warm, fuzzy feelings when I look at it. Plus, I’ve always loved abstract art. We opted for the biggest size (54-inches-by-40-inches) so that it’s really a standout eye-catcher over my bigger couch.

Mirrored nightstand

Mirrored nightstand // Table lamp // Rug // Youngstrom circles print

Cat face trinket dish

Wall mounted jewelry holder

Get Personal

DM: Jamie is a beauty blogger, so she definitely needed a spot to store and shoot her products (besides the bathroom) that was both fun and personally meaningful! We worked with Joss & Main to find many of the items in the apartment, but we both especially loved the vanity idea. Luckily, Joss & Main had a ton of options to choose from. We took this modern white vanity and stool, added a mirror to the wall and voila—we had created an old-school vanity that could be used for either work or play, and that wasn’t too fussy or would take up too much room! Accessorizing with vintage finds—like her gold lipstick holder—completed the vignette and made it, well…honestly, Jamie.

JS: I love this desk. I actually found this piece and then Dee found the perfect stool and round mirror to complement it. I wouldn’t have thought to go gray and gold with a white desk but that’s why Dee is good at what she does. I think it’s important to mix patterns and prints in a smart way that still feels like “you”—especially in a small space.

Round wall mirror

Jewelry armoire // Round brass wall mirror // Desk // Stool

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Author: Carrie Waller

Carrie is the writer, stylist and photographer behind Dream Green DIY, and also is the features editor for Glitter Guide. Follow along on Instagram!

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