Those of us with compact homes or apartments know just how important every square foot of space is when living in close quarters. But living small doesn’t have to mean sacrificing function or style. From lighter walls, to open shelving, to storage ottomans making the most out of a small living space can be surprisingly painless. Check it out!

Look for space-saving furniture

Make the most of whatever space you have by finding furniture that’s sized for smaller rooms. That can mean choosing pieces that are petite but proportional no overstuffed sectionals or giant armoires. Also consider furniture that’s actually designed to save room, like stackable or folding chairs that can be stored away when not in use.

Multi-use is marvelous

Why buy 2 or 3 pieces of furniture when just one would do the job? There are so many items working the multi-use angle today: from lamps that double as bookshelves to retractable tables that can also be used as flat wall mirrors. If you need a couch and a bed in your guest room, look to futons, day beds, or convertible sleeper couches that can be both. Similarly, if you’re on the hunt for a bench, ottoman, or coffee table, try looking for ones that double as storage containers.

Wall storage for the win

Out of floor space? Start thinking vertically. Floor-to-ceiling shelves, cabinets, and ledges can all be used to create additional storage space. If you’ve got a stud finder, then you might also consider mounting items to the wall. Flat-screen TVs, for instance, can usually be safely hung on the wall. Or look into a lift mechanism to store it inside a cabinet. Open shelving can also help move the eye vertically, making rooms appear bigger than they are.

Utilize your outdoor space

If you have a yard, deck, patio, or balcony … use it! Outdoor spaces can be a lifesaver for the square-foot challenged. Plus, making over your yard and outdoor spaces takes far less time and money than an interior remodel. Add a cozy swing, an outdoor rug, some mood lighting, and a few throw pillows to a patio. Suddenly you’ve got an indoor/outdoor room that extends the size and feel of your home. Want more outdoor living space? Take it a step further and convert a detached garage or other outbuilding into a legit retreat (she sheds are presently all the rage).

Lighten the walls

Lighter and whiter colors reflect the sunlight, making rooms appear brighter, more spacious, and airy. Think about painting darker, cramped spaces with paler colors to help create the illusion of a bigger space.

Store stuff under the stairs

Got stairs? The space under the stairs often gets forgotten. If you have a flight in your home, invest in under-stair drawers or specially-shaped bookcases and cabinets to make better use of this (un)dead space.

And remember: you’ll have an easier time focusing on saving space if you’re not worried about your stuff. Protect your home and the things you keep there with renters or homeowners insurance from Esurance.

DIY hacks | Home and garden

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about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.