Tiny homes are exquisite architectural gems that stylishly provide the necessities of daily living in the smallest of footprints. When designed well, these small spaces offer endless possibilities for living large.

Luxury yachts and private jets are great examples of interiors where every inch of space is used wisely and the design looks amazing.

Great designs for small spaces begin with identifying the very specific purpose of the space then carefully planning everything down to the smallest detail. Architects and interior designers are expects in the art of balance, harmony, proportion, scale, light and flow for even the smallest of spaces.

Sometimes less really is more, yet more space doesn’t always equate with enough space, if it is not planned well.

The concept of “enough” is highly individual because has to do with the purpose of the space, your values and beliefs and your lifestyle.

For inspiration in how to maximize a small space, I’ve offered five key elements that are sure to spark big ideas.


First, determine the function of the space. What will your small space be used for? What will it be? Small structures can be anything: a pool house, boat house, mountain cabin, guest house or beach cottage.

Do you want to build a tiny house from scratch? Maybe you long for a house that is small and manageable, intimate and cozy that is both filled with light and generous in flexibility. Maybe you would love to renovate a 1930s’ historical jewel that has minimal square footage and turn it into a spacious modern-day gem.

Will your small space will be a weekend getaway or a place to host overnight guests? Is you desire to have intimate studio where you can create to your heart’s content?


Fill your small space with as much natural sunlight as possible. This helps even the smallest of rooms feel bright, open and airy.

A glass wall can be pulled back to open up to a deck and blend the inside living space with the sunny outdoors. Take advantage of your view by maximizing the size of windows. Add skylights to let the sun flood into your home.

Because light is essential, complement the natural sunlight with ambient lighting to illuminate the rooms on a cloudy day and in the evenings. Plan on sufficient task lighting for reading and doing detailed work, and in the kitchen under the cabinets for cooking.

Adding accent lighting in the bookcase will beautifully shine attention on your favorite art objects, as will a ceiling fixture that highlights your treasured art on the walls.

Don’t underestimate the power of good mood lighting by using dazzling wall sconces, dimmer controls, gorgeous torchieres and sparkling chandeliers in a scale that brings brilliance and harmony to the space.


Color and pattern play critical roles in the perception of the size of a room. Light colors and solid textiles make a space seem larger. Classic neutrals, such as ivory, pearl grey and light taupe emphasize brightness. Soft pastels, including the palest peach, rose, and aqua, also work well. The lighter the better!

Wallpaper and upholstery with busy patterns make a small area feel cluttered. Opt for a monochromatic palette that blends different textures to add visual and tactile interest.

Stick with a color palette of slightly different tones of ivory, cream, pearl, ecru, eggshell and white for an elegant tone-on-tone effect.

Add layers of warm woods, textured ceramic tile, clear glass mosaics, nubby wools, woven textiles, soft velvets, light silks, embroidered accents, and sheer window fabrics.

Keep your palette clean, minimal, light and bright!


Storage is a critical component for every home, but even more so for the small space. There isn’t room for clutter. This means you need to be incredibly decisive about what you bring into the space. Every item needs to have a home. Imagine where you’ll house and display your favorite things.

This is an opportunity to use innovative and attractive storage systems. Shop for cool containers, vintage baskets, closet systems, ready-made book shelves or systems that let you design your own custom storage.

Get creative! Consider open shelving in the kitchen that also lets you display your dishes and then balance that with closed cabinets to help hid not-so-displayable gadgets.

Great ideas for containers include antique, cut-glass canisters that hold costume jewelry. An old-fashioned apothecary cabinet with drawers can store anything from tubes of oil paint to nuts and bolts.


The scale of the furniture is critical because you want rooms to feel open and have great flow. Look for furniture with slim profiles, clean lines, minimal pattern and items made of woven materials.

Double-duty furniture accomplishes two tasks at once with style. Accommodate overnight guests with a couch that comes with pull-out sofa or doubles as a day bed or the classic Murphy bed.

A window seat can also function as a toy box. Nesting tables and ottomans can be re-arranged to accommodate impromptu entertaining.

Modular furniture is a creative solution because you can separate the pieces and put then in different combinations while still keeping a cohesive look.

An entertainment center or a sectional sofa could be divided with pieces placed in different rooms.

Patricia Wilson is an artist and interior designer registered with the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners. Connect with her at PatriciaCWilson.com.