A Guide to Modern and Contemporary Furniture for Small Spaces

by Jessica Antony – April 30th, 2019

Getting Started

Creating a space for yourself that is beautifully decorated, exceptionally comfortable, and highly functional can be a challenge for most of us, particularly for those of us who live in cities and densely populated areas where we perhaps don’t have the space for large furniture or spacious rooms. Contemporary furniture for small spaces can be difficult to choose, but with a few tips from our expert product development team and a clear sense of what pieces really spark joy, you will be well on your way to designing the perfect space, no matter the size.

While it may be easy to dream of starting your home’s design and layout from scratch, it’s not entirely reasonable to purchase all new furniture, nor is it sustainable or environmentally conscious to throw out furniture that can be easily repurposed or reimagined in your space. In fact, it’s often quite helpful to use the pieces you already have to narrow down how your space will take shape.

A good first step is to draw out a floor plan of the room you are ready to tackle – it doesn’t have to be highly detailed or professional, but being able to conceptualize on paper how you will organize your space with the furniture you have, including the dimensions of the room and measurements of each piece, will save you time and potential headaches down the road.

A second step to take in designing a small space is to build a colour palette from which you can work.While there are a multitude of trends and ideas floating around on the internet and in design magazines, the most important question to ask yourself is: what colours make you happy? Which tones do you want to see every day? Which colours leave you feeling calm and relaxed, and which make you tense or on edge?

If you’re living in an apartment, there will be elements of your home that you cannot change – for example, wood trim, hardwood flooring, or even paint options. Often it is warmer tones that not only feel the coziest but will work the best with wood. Don’t be afraid to head to your local paint or furniture store for swatches in order to understand how colours will work together, as well as with the furniture pieces you already have.

A third key consideration, especially in small spaces, is visual weight. When you’re choosing furniture for a small space, options that have visual continuity are great in that they won’t make your space feel cluttered or even smaller than it is. Consider not just the construction of a piece – for example, an open shelving unit compared to a solid-backed shelving unit – but also the piece’s depth and functional requirements. Will it require hardware? Are you able to drill into the walls of your room? As apartments and condos typically have little storage space, think about how you can maximize storage without overwhelming your room.

Modular pieces or those that can float anywhere in a room are a great option in that they are both multifunctional and can be flexible with your budget. It’s also worthwhile to choose pieces that you can see yourself taking with you in the future when you move – choosing those with perceived flexibility will prevent you from having to purchase more furniture down the road. Be creative with your use of furniture pieces! You aren’t confined to using a piece according to the function it was created for.

Living Rooms

Let them Evolve!

Building the look and feel of your living room is often easiest when you start with an area rug. Using a rug as the starting point to center your room is a tangible way for a person to begin to arrange their furniture said EQ3’s product development team. And, given that a rug and coffee table are often such a central part of your space, particularly when you live in a small space that may not have a dedicated dining room but rather one central multipurpose living room, starting here often makes the most sense

It’s important to think about sizing and placement when you’re choosing a rug (along with material, weave, and durability), so be sure not to overwhelm the room with a rug that’s too large. Often 5’x8’ or 6’x9’ rugs are the most flexible and versatile. Placement considerations include whether or not you choose to set a sofa or chairs on top of the rug, or if you prefer to have furniture line the perimeter of the rug. Visual balance is the goal here, so thinking of the rug and the room as boxes that work in tandem is a helpful guide.

“I create a space based on objects that I really like or feel good about or that I see longevity in, and I don’t necessarily like the idea of a space being finished.” – EQ3 Product Development team

Overall, however, rushing to completely design a space often leaves us feeling pressured and anxious about our homes. If you treat your space like it needs to be ‘finished’ you’re limiting yourself to investments that aren’t necessarily focused on your personal preferences or that give you options to evolve.

So, take your time to choose pieces that suit your budget and your functional requirements and incorporate objects that you truly enjoy. A living room is, after all, one of the rooms we spend the most time in, so it should be a space that leaves you feeling happy and at peace.

Are you painstakingly looking for ways to hide all of your clutter because that’s what the living rooms in design magazines look like? Perhaps clutter isn’t all that bad, particularly if that clutter is made up of objects that have meaning and value to you. Find a balance between creating a space that is functional and cohesive and one in which you are surrounded by objects that bring you joy.

The Home Office

Flexibility is Key

While it would certainly be ideal to have a dedicated home office, not all of us have the space for such a luxury. If you’re working from home – whether you’re self-employed, you have a side hustle, or you’d like space to work on creative projects in your own time – dedicating space to being productive can be tricky.

Often the best first step is finding furniture that can serve multiple functions – perhaps your dinette table becomes your home office on the weekends, or perhaps your ladder desk neatly displays photos and décor when you have company over.

In addition to finding the versatility in furniture pieces, carving out a dedicated space in which you can be productive without distractions is also paramount. Choose a space away from high-traffic areas (like the kitchen) or noisy areas (such as in front of the television) so that you are better able to focus on the task at hand.

You might also consider your personal work style – do you need background noise, natural light, or the option to move around? Do you prefer dead silence, focused lighting, and a cozy chair?

Think about the elements required for you to be at your most creative and incorporate them into your workspace setup.

Cozy Bedrooms

Divide and Conquer

Arguably the most tranquil room in our home, the bedroom can be tricky to set up given that there often isn’t much space to work with. Starting your room layout with your bed, while obvious, is key in determining how much space you have left for every other piece – clearly, the bed is the most important piece of furniture here!

While you may not have the option to replace your bed, if you are looking to incorporate a new bed, choosing a simple bed frame that is not upholstered often allows you to regain between six and eight inches of space in your room. A bed whose footprint doesn’t take up much more than the mattress itself will allow you for more comfortable movement around the bed and the incorporation of nightstands or dressers for storage.

In terms of placement, you will need to consider the number of people sharing the bed and the size of the room itself. Often, placing your bed in the centre of the room is more aesthetically pleasing, however, corner placement can leave a lot more room for additional furniture or functional space.


Focus on the Essentials

The entrance to your home is often overlooked but mindfully designing this space can help you stay tidy, organized, and even punctual. The first thing you see when you walk into your home and the last area you pass through when you leave, your entryway is the place for those essential items necessary for your day-to-day, like your keys, sunglasses, coat, and shoes.

Creating a space where you can easily find these items and have a place to sit down and put your shoes on or take them off after a long day will ultimately make your life easier and reduce that last-minute panic when you can’t find your wallet or car keys. And because this area of your home is often quite small, it’s best to choose pieces that help facilitate going about your day but won’t overwhelm your entryway.

A bench or chair with storage that is narrow and visually light will provide a place to sit and store bags or umbrellas. Items that can serve more than one purpose – for example, choosing pegs for your wall to hold coats, keys, or bags – are really helpful for this space.

“it’s not always about having the most innovative objects, but thinking about how you can treat an object like a multiplicity of things.”- EQ3 Product Development team

Surfaces that allow for both seating and storage also essentially force you to stay tidy. Our product development team explained that when a surface carries multiple implications, there is an inherent discipline associated with it, which helps you function more optimally.

While there are furniture pieces designed specifically for entryways and hallways, it’s again important to think beyond a piece’s intended usage when you’re choosing furniture. Narrow tables, slim benches, and items like pegs and hooks can be used in a variety of ways, and also easily moved to your next home in the future.


Be Flexible and Find Balance

Designing your home can feel daunting, especially when you’re working within smaller spaces. We are inundated with design inspiration from interior decorating magazines to social media accounts to television shows, so the pressure to create a finished space can become immobilizing or lead us to purchase pieces that don’t actually speak to our personal preferences. Working with the pieces that you have, considering the multiple functions of both your space and furniture, and finding a balance between creating a picture-perfect room and one in which you are surrounding by objects you love will go a long way in helping to remove the stress of decorating your home.

Allowing your interior design to evolve with you and focusing on function and long-lasting quality will help to create an aesthetic that not only suits your lifestyle but your personality.

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