One Room, Two Ways: How to Maximize Your Small Living Space

When you’ve got a small square footage to work with, making a space multi-functional is essential. You need the seating and table space to host a brunch or game night one moment and the room to cozy up on the couch with a good book the next.

For help, we turned to lifestyle blogger Roxanne West, who transformed a 100-square-foot space in her home to work as a dining area or a living room. She filled us in on her tips and tricks for creating a transitional (and beautiful) space.

100-square-feet as a living area:

In styling the room as a living area, I wanted a small amount of seating, enough for me to comfortably relax and get some work done or do some light reading. But I also wanted a space I could entertain or have a meeting with a couple of guests, where we could enjoy a cup of coffee (or glass of champagne) and discuss upcoming projects!  I utilized the coffee table to style some of my favorite fashion and design books and stacks of magazines for guests to peruse during a visit. It was important to me to keep this space looking clean and elegant but also not to lose my personality and functionality.

Our white and glass shelving ended up being a great way to keep some of my office pieces organized and it’s a piece of furniture that isn’t too chunky or invasive. I wanted my record player on display — it kept this space from being too “girly” and it’s a great way to show your style and personality (you can tell a lot about someone by their taste in music!).

The bar cart is one of my favorite pieces for this space and can be such a useful and pretty source for storage, stacked books or glassware — you can even use it for makeup displays, antique finds or if you’re a green thumb like me, fill them with a variety of plants! This bar cart is on wheels so we can move it around to suit the needs of the room, making it perfect for this transitional space.

100-sqare-feet as a dining area: 

I wanted this space to be able to switch from a living area to a dining space with minimal changes — making it easy to swap when needed or to show to potential buyers as a formal dining room when selling. No one says one room can’t be used for many different things and this space is a great testament to making a space functional with little square footage.

For the dining room, we added a lovely wood pedestal table and my wishbone dining chairs to the space. I love the look these chairs add with their natural fiber seats — a nice way of creating more texture!

I kept the table styling simple and clean with my favorite marble and rope tray, our copper coffee cups, and a pop of brass cutlery… because every brunch needs brass cutlery, am I right? Lastly, I popped a single white rose into a lovely vintage milk glass vase to finish off the table.

I styled my shelves for the dining space by adding in my favorite cookbooks, vintage floral teacups, cake stands, and wood trays. Since this was for a brunch in the dining space, I set up the bar cart as a coffee station with my French press and some pastries and styled the record player on the bottom shelf for some lovely music to play! Moving the bar cart instantly changed the feeling of the space — I love how it pops off the bold navy of the accent wall.

Easy tips to make small spaces functional: 

1. A fresh coat of paint is a quick and inexpensive way to change a space.

When we moved in, this 100-square-foot room was a world of its own, with an awkward shape and odd corners. It took three different makeovers over two years for me to finally feel content with the final product. We started by updating the fireplace with a quick white paint job. I knew a clean white would open the space and bounce the light coming from the front entrance and large window.

2. Carefully pick and chose where to spend and where to save.

We didn’t change the flooring, as this house already had original hardwood flooring in excellent condition. It wasn’t the color I would have picked myself, but we went with it. Popcorn ceiling is my biggest dislike in homes, we wanted a quick and inexpensive way to cover it up without spending an entire weekend scraping it off!! Tongue and Groove paneling from Metrie was our go-to to easily elevate the space.

3. Strategic decor pieces can make a huge difference.

We added in a tall leaning floor mirror, which helped to open the space and make it seem larger. We also picked items that could be moved around easily so we could quickly change the space to suit our needs.

Finding a rug for this space was challenging due to the size and shape of the room, so I decided to go with a faux zebra. I was hesitant at first to pull such a print into the space — since I tend to gravitate toward neutrals only — but I am so happy with the final result! It’s perfect because it is so easy to quickly roll up and remove or move around the space. It’s lightweight, but also adds warmth and depth to the room.

4. Make alternative seating a priority.

I wanted a small amount of seating, enough for me to comfortably relax while getting some work done, or doing some light reading, but also for when I needed to have a meeting to discuss upcoming projects — preferably over a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne. Adding Moroccan poufs or cute faux fur stools is a great way to incorporate more seating, without having more large pieces of furniture.

When utilizing the space as a dining room, we pull out the love seat and add in a lovely wood pedestal table and my wishbone dining chairs, which bring texture to the room with their natural fiber seats. I am often entertaining and this 36” round table does the trick for four people!

5. Bring in pieces that can be restyled to suit the different needs of the space.

The bar cart is one of my favorite pieces for this space and can be such a useful and pretty source for storage, stacked books, or glassware — even makeup displays, antique finds, or (if you’re a green thumb like me) a variety of plants. The cart is on wheels so we can move it around to suit the needs of the room — perfect for a transitional space! For example, when we use the space as a dining room, we move the bar cart to the navy wall, where it really pops and instantly changes the space.

If you need more storage, try a storage ottoman or a vintage truck as a coffee table. I am all about discreet storage options and they are a must for small spaces to avoid piles of clutter!

Remember, be brave in your design choices and stick with what makes you happy.