Choosing furniture for small spaces can be a headache. With sky-high rents and property prices in urban areas like New York City, San Francisco, London, and Hong Kong, more and more of us—even those with sizable decorating budgets—are having to make the best of economical floor plans. Luckily, interior designers have plenty of tricks up their sleeve for outfitting challenging spaces and have tried and tested several furniture designs within tight confines. Below, they share their favorite pieces in a wide range of budgets that they’ve used in small apartments or homes—from floating nightstands to nesting tables and a bathroom trolley—to make compact living a little easier without compromising on style.
For those wanting to add some Brazilian modernist flair to their space, AD PRO Directory firm Chroma swears by these artful dark wood side tables by famed midcentury designer Jorge Zalszupin. Studio cofounder Emily Poole describes them as “a go-to piece for any room in a home that offers less space” and recently specced them for a San Francisco pied-à-terre. Small and lightweight, “this is a piece that can be easily moved, depending on the need,” she notes.
Jade McNeil’s Pick
“When it comes to upholstery pieces in small spaces, curves are the saving grace,” says New York designer Jade McNeil, who picked this stylish Turner sofa from Arteriors after using it in a local living room. Its curves allow for more seating in a smaller footprint than a straight-lined sofa, she notes, and also enable it to be easily tucked into a corner or floated in the middle of a room “without feeling like you’ll bump into a corner.” The sofa comes in two size options, and the smaller is particularly useful in a squeeze.
John Schwarz’s Pick
Entertaining in tight quarters presents its own set of challenges, but finding designs that straddle function and art can solve at least some of them. Guests will undoubtedly be impressed by this industrial-meets-luxurious cocktail table designed by EJR Barnes. The Emergency Best Friend Cocktail Plinth’s bold red integrated cabinet offers extra storage, and the piece’s geometric yet slender form allows its presence to be made from a nook or corner. “Picture it nestled in a compact New York or Paris apartment, specifically in a cozy library room radiating warmth and welcome,” says designer John Schwarz, who selected it as a top piece of furniture for small spaces. “It’s more than an object; it’s a conversation, a narrative told through shapes and materials.”
Matt McKay’s Pick
Although this playful little trolley was originally designed as an office accessory, designer Matt McKay believes it’s the perfect tool for a tiny bathroom—so much so that he uses one in his own home. “The surface holds my Dopp kit, while the different compartments help keep products organized and provide additional storage for inventory,” he explains. “I wheel it from the sink to the tub, and tuck it away when guests are around.”
Sean Anderson’s Picks
The sculptural curves, tapered legs, and delicate piping of this upholstered settee from Jake Arnold’s collection for The Expert is “endlessly versatile,” according to Memphis-based Sean Anderson. “This settee is the perfect scale for a modest space, and I love not only the fabric options they offer, but also that they offer a COM option.” The design’s dramatic back also brings just enough character to a living area without taking up extra space.