Small space solutions

Flipping through the September 2012 issue of Elle Decor, it’s easy to miss this little 1910 Craftsman bungalow revamp by Claudia Benevenuto. But I’m so glad I didn’t! I’ve been studying how she infused a worldly sophistication into a typically comfy casual architectural style, and how she makes the small spaces appear much larger…

In the living room above, she opened up the ceiling to the original pitched roof for height. Notice how she uses a very narrow glass cocktail table. (wall color: Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray)


In the sitting area off the living room, she created a functional wall of built-in bookcases, keeping it out of the main sight lines and avoiding visual clutter that can make a space seem smaller.


In the dining room, she mixes chairs with a small table to make the space seem larger, and has incorporated mirrored doors to hide the kitchen from view.


In the guest bedroom, she keeps it light with small scale furniture such as a day bed instead of larger bed, and a narrow ottoman instead of a table.


Her office used to be a small garage. Here she mixes new and old, high-end and affordable, modern and traditional, but takes advantage of the full height with the addition of a foldable step ladder.


Another tip? Stain the floors very dark. It’s one of those contradictions to our thinking about “darker = smaller” and “lighter = bigger.” But I find that it seems to smooth out the field, and pull it away from our perspective, if that makes sense.

Do you have any small space solutions that you’ve used?

Images via Elle Decor; photography by Joe Schmelzer; styled by Stephen Pappas.

Erika Brechtel

Erika Brechtel

Creative Director

Desiring an online space to explore well-rounded, inspired content in all topics she loves most, Erika created 'The E List' (formerly the Small Shop blog) in 2010. When not enjoying an “occasional" glass of wine and wanderlusting for even warmer climates, Erika can be found sharing laughs with friends and family, and trying her very best to keep up with her 6-year old daughter (yet failing miserably).

  1. I pinned some of these. They are great. I love how whenever I pin something from your site you have all the information embedded in the pin. I need to learn how to do this! It makes life so much easier.

    1. In wordpress you can add it to the “description” field after you’ve uploaded the photo you’d like to include in the post. Not sure about other platforms, but it’s probably similar. This way when the user uses the “pin it” button, the information pre-populates with what you’d originally intended for the image.

  2. This is so inspiring for us who live in small spaces 🙂 LOVE everything about this home tour, esp that dining room and the sitting room! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow! Some of our rooms in our house are pretty small and this is so helpful. I love the tip about staining the floors darker! xo