Palm Springs living room
The Ligne Roset sofa dominates this small yet open space, but by complementing the room with pieces that don’t compete, the sofa becomes a bold focal point.

Taking a sledge hammer and breaking down your walls for a more open floor space might appeal to MCM design, but not your landlord. You may feel that a small space, especially if you live in an apartment, hinders your living area’s potential for having a strong midcentury impact—where do you fit that elongated credenza, or Nelson Platform bench, without everything crowding and clashing with one another?

Here’s how to make your small space bold, not overwhelming.

A Defining Piece

A small space is the equivalent to the front page of a newspaper—there’s limited space, so everything is competing with one another. Follow the newspaper design principle of having a “Center of Visual Impact”: your one piece that is larger and more dynamic than the rest, like the bright red Ligne Roset couch pictured. Resist the urge to throw more loud pieces into the same room to make up for the cramped space. They will only result in chaos, making visitors feel trapped in the dissonant mess that will be the decor scheme.

Quirky Accents

Avoid occupying your compact space with multiple flamboyant furnishings—but don’t feel the need to tone down all your pieces. You can still have fun; the key is subtleness. The dining set pictured is a simple white that is harmonious with the walls, but features a fun lemon wedge design on the table. The interesting detail makes the space more playful and distracts from the room’s low square footage count. Incorporating appropriate quirky accents is also a fun opportunity to bring in unique vintage pieces.

Playful Shapes

Idiosyncratic is not just synonymous with flashy colors and funky prints. Counterbalance the two with a uniquely-shaped piece, like the surfboard table above designed by Patrick Boyce. The surfboard table, and other furnishings in similar interesting molds, introduces another visual point of interest into the room while barely taking up floor space.


The best part about rugs is that they instantly amp a room without crowding out other pieces—they just sit underneath them, after all. A shag rug adds a different texture into the room, making the room only more bold.

Exchange Plaster for Glass

Now, not everyone can swap out their existing walls for glass panels. But if your situation allows you to, or you’re forming the blueprints for a minuscule ranch, then opt for transparent walls. Rather than give the effect of enclosing in on you, the glass panels open onto the nature outside and therefore inspire the illusion of a wider room.