12 Creative Ways to Make the Most of a Small Living Space

In Hawai‘i, square footage comes at a premium. Here are some tips for making your home feel larger.



ID Hawai‘i. Photo: Olivier Koning



1. Make your kitchen the center of attention.

Your home will feel larger with an open floorplan, rather than the compartmentalized spaces of the ’60s. Opt for counter seating, rather than a formal dining room, and a kitchen that faces the living room so you can still be a part of the conversation.


2. Big Red


Jamie Jackson Design. Photo: Olivier Koning


Choose a bold accent color to brighten up a room or highlight a feature.


3. Low to High


Ko‘olau Builders. Photo: Olivier Koning



This home, designed by Ko‘olau Builders, features built-in  shelving that allows you to display items from floor to ceiling, rather than only at eye-level. Open shelves also give the illusion of a larger space—as long as they’re not cluttered.


4. Down Under

Propped bed

ID Hawai‘i. Photo: Olivier Koning



Prop up your bed and use the space underneath it for storage. If you don’t like the look of your bins, buy a bed skirt to hide them. If you have a low ceiling, however, your room will feel larger with the bed on the floor.


5. Going Steady

Tricia Beaman, who moved into a 600-square-foot Pālolo cottage last May, found inspiration from Rebecca Atwood’s book Living With Pattern: Color, Texture and Print at Home as she decorated. Beaman suggests “embracing the patterns in the bones of the place you live,” from tongue-and-groove siding to how doorjambs and windows line up. “Layering patterns feels busy. Being consistent with color, pattern and textures throughout the home will make it feel like one big cohesive space and not distracting.”


6. Shape Shift

U- and H-shaped homes facing in toward courtyards, rather than backyards, are becoming popular, says architect Geoffrey Lewis. It’s one way to completely redo your space without changing the overall footprint, and creates more privacy.


7. Out in the Open

Replace room dividers with open shelving so they double as storage.


8. Reach for the Sky

Skylights, large windows and mirrors will give the illusion of more space.


9. Treasure Chest

Replace end tables and footstools with trunks topped with cushion.


10. Let it Slide

Sliding barn doors stay out of the way and can add a pop of color.


11. Lookin’ Good

Especially with open shelving, make sure your items are visually appealing.


12. Spring Cleaning

If you haven’t used something in the past few months, throw it out.