Storage and decorating tips to make small spaces seem bigger

Maximize your space with smart furniture and storage solutions.
/ Source: TODAY
By Elizabeth Mayhew and Sari Kamp

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Decorating small spaces — whether it's a dorm room or a tiny studio apartment — requires ingenuity, creativity, and organization. You need to use every square inch to the fullest, which means using horizontal space (think under the bed) and vertical space (think over the bed) to maximize the space.

Lifestyle expert Elizabeth Mayhew stopped by TODAY with some simple decorating principles and affordable products that are sure to have a big impact on your small space.

1. Create a sense of space

Small spaces need to be multifunctional; one often sleeps in the same room where he or she eats, works and lounges. You can create walls to divvy up your space (like separating you bed from your “living” area) in one of three ways:

Use a screen

White Capiz Screen

This screen creates a sense of separation, but still allows the light to come through. Use it to create a changing space in your bedroom, or to block off the living room when you have a friend crashing on your couch.

Use a curtain

Vidga Corner Room Divider

The Vidga allows you to create a room divider with brackets and track rails that navigate around corners. The fixture is easy to mount on the ceiling — only one screw is needed. It’s easy to assemble, has no visible screws and the rail can be cut to the desired length with a hacksaw.

Vivan Curtains

These offer a perfect solution when you want privacy or want to block annoying glares on TV and computer screens. The outside light still comes through, so it isn't a blackout curtain but offers a nice in-between.

Use a bookcase ...

Damon Etagere Bookcase

This metal bookcase is accessible from both sides (which means it looks great when floating in the center of the room) and its curved arch top adds a nice architectural element to any space.

Bookcases have an added benefit: they give you more storage/space. Fill them with books, boxes, and more!

... and add boxes

Two-tone Storage Bins with Handles

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Add a nautical touch with these color-blocked white and blue stacking boxes. They're perfect for a kids bedroom: Use them to store stuffed animals, toys and art supplies all while teaching your kiddos to put things back where they found them! Add labels or tags so everyone remembers what goes where.

Water Hyacinth Woven Bins

Use these woven baskets to organize anything from toys to shoes! Perfect for an entryway or mudroom, give each family member their own basket and let them fill it with anything they usually leave on the strewn about the house. They will look great and keep your family in order.

File Storage Containers

Deck out your desk with this matching set of file boxes, storage boxes and paper holders. These boxes and drawers come with built-in labels so that you can designate what goes in each. Use them to manage your finances, your kids' college application essays or the artwork they made you that you might not want to look at but can never get rid of.

2. Sneak in storage where you can

Small spaces require that you use every square inch of space, but having things hidden is also important: You need to have visual order!

Essential Storage Console

Use skirted tables to conceal what’s hidden beneath. This option from Ballard Designs combines style with ease. The skirt easily comes on and off, so you can always switch around what you stack underneath.

Shoe Storage Box

Use clear boxes to easily separate and organize any items going in your skirted table. That way it's super easy to lift the skirt, grab the box you need and be on your way!

3. Use storage cubes as side tables, coffee tables, and extra seating.

There are a wide variety of them on the market. Here are just a few examples:

Ottoman with Tray Top

Be party-ready with this ottoman that features a built-in tray table and opens up for storage. This piece is great for kids' rooms because it can function as a snack tray for when friends are over while also acting as an arts and crafts box full of goodies.

Stocksund Storage Bench

Don't sacrifice style for storage! Opt for this Ikea bench in a gorgeous blue that just so happens to have built in storage. Place this gorgeous piece in your entryway and fill it with winter gloves and hats, or put it at the foot of your bed and store extra shoes inside.

Rattan Storage Ottoman

Make your living room stylish and purposeful with this unique rattan storage ottoman. Use it outside during the summer to store pool toys or towels, and also as a place to put your cold, frosty (adult) beverage.

Fairland Square Storage Ottoman

Mix things up with this fun, printed storage ottoman. Perfect for a cozy den, use this storage square for books, magazines or your secret stash of late night snacks.

Small Metallic Nested Basket Table

Jazz up your living room with this funky metallic side table. Even though this basket table isn't solid on the sides, it is still a great storage spot. Fill it with plush blankets for family movie nights, or use it as an easy access spot for all of your furry friend's toys.

4. Add big style to small spaces

When decorating small spaces there are a few visual tricks you can use to make the room look bigger.

Keep color palette consistent — you want to create visual order but that does not mean you need to avoid any one color; dark colors for example can make a small room look bigger because you blur the edges of the room.

Burton Clear Arm Chair

Use acrylic or clear furniture because it takes up no visual space. Use these chairs at your desk or your dining table! These work great in a home with pets or kids because they are impossible to get dirty!

Swedish Stripe Cotton Rug

Use a striped rug in small spaces to visually elongate the room. Transport yourself to Scandinavia with this Swedish-inspired rug. Kids will love this piece because it's cotton, so use it in a bedroom or playroom where it will get a lot of love.

Braided Natural Mirror

Hang mirrors to make a room look bigger, but just make sure they reflect something pretty like a window. This unique mirror is a statement piece in itself! Hang it in your entryway or foyer so you can check yourself before you leave the house, or put it in a guest bathroom for a twist on the usual vanity.

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