Earlier in the week, a guest post from Mr. Frugal highlighted the benefits to living in a small space. Many people mentioned the novelty of the small demo spaces at Ikea in their comments. I’ve been thinking about this myself; do the demos at Ikea really work? What does it look like with people living in such a small space? (Since viewing them empty gives the illusion of more space).

A quick search revealed that Ikea has a section on their website dedicated to small space ideas. They highlight how the room was organized maximizing the space and offer photos of families “living” in the room. The rooms used in the videos and photos are still the model rooms, but seeing pictures of people in the room, “living” in that small space, gives a better idea of its functionality.

Ikea Small Space Ideas
Ikea Small Space Ideas

In my opinion, the photos of many of the rooms are a bit cramped once you add a  family of 3 or 4, but one or two people could definitely live somewhat comfortably within the small square footage. Yet,  most of the ideas Ikea offers for maximizing space can be used in any size of a room. For example, using glass-front cabinets that extend up to the ceiling allows for more storage, but still keeps an airy, open feeling through the use of glass. Or using two chaise lounges that you can move around the living room for more or less space is a great idea.

I think their kitchen ideas are the most flexible and would work for any sized family. Cabinets above the door and hanging utensils, pans, plate racks, etc. save counter space and also add an aesthetic quality (as long as you’re a neat person and not a slob). Their Scandinavian design also keeps the look simple and utilitarian, which is very popular these days.

However, some small space ideas seem a bit ridiculous like having a bunk bed in the living room with only a curtain to pull around an adult couple. It might work for a single couple, but throw in a couple of kids and I’m not sure how comfortable I’d feel about that. In my defense, I don’t have kids so maybe I don’t understand that privacy goes out the window. (Any parents want to comment on this?)

Their small space website really cemented the idea that creatively utilizing all areas of a room (floor to ceiling, loft sleeping for guests, cubbies and cabinets) saves floor space, hides toys effectively and items which are rarely used, and allows more room to move around. Ikea’s space saving ideas can come in handy in any household.

How do you effectively utilize your space?

*photo credit: Ikea

21 Comments

  1. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter Reply

    We are really trying hard to keep clutter and stuff to a minimum. We have gone through most of the house but we still have the office and storage room to do. They are our winter projects. Once we are done that, we are hoping to keep it up, limiting the stuff we get or get rid of something before we add something else.

    We are getting an IKEA in our city in 2013. I am excited to take advantage of some of their space saving stuff.

    • @Miss T – Working on de-cluttering during winter is a great idea. We have pretty much gotten are stuff down to just the necessities and I’ve promised not to buy any more teaching stuff until I have my own classroom :). We’re pretty set unless we do move into a smaller place.

  2. retirebyforty Reply

    Have you been to the IKEA showrooms? They have a few spaces setup like the pictures. I think the small spaces are great for a couple with no kids. Probably need a bit more room with kid though. Our kid will have to share his room with our office so he is probably getting a bunk bed someday.

    • @Retire by 40 – that’s what gave me the idea! I’ve visited Ikea many times and I’m always impressed by their showrooms and demo space areas. I just happened to notice that they are now featuring their small spaces on their website. Some great ideas.

  3. I think these models are good for getting some ideas, but I agree that sometimes, things that are in a model might not work so well in practice or in certain situations.

    I have a small area for office space, so I make use of a lot of drawers and caddies to be able to store the things I want to have close at hand. Clear drawers let me see what’s inside.

    • @Grady – I love clear caddies and bins. Most of my teaching stuff is in those kinds of containers and it makes it easier to only pull one bin out at a time instead of having to guess and pull them all out.

  4. Krantcents Reply

    The only area that should be particularly efficient is the kitchen. I like the idea of putting a lot of things in a small space, but it should be efficient. We went from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom townhouse. I need efficiency.

    • @Krantcents – Efficiency is definitely important. We moved to an apartment with a really big kitchen with lots of counter space and cabinets, but we still had to hang a pot rack to have accessibility to the pots and pans. With a little rearranging, most rooms can work.

  5. I’m a huge fan of Ikea! Stylish products priced just right!

    We have a lot of fun putting together Ikea stuff!

  6. Well Heeled Blog Reply

    HGTV has a show called Small Spaces, Big Style available on Hulu.com. I love getting ideas from the show, even though some of the decor are a little too minimalist or adventurous for me. For example, this one couple lives in a 400+ sq. ft loft where they climb into a bedroom loft on top of their bathroom. Their ladder is so small and narrow that it made me feel queasy just looking at it!

    • @Well Heeled Blog – I haven’t seen this show yet, but I’ve heard of it. I’ll have to catch an episode or two on Hulu.

  7. Hunter @ Financially Consumed Reply

    I like Ikea, but we currently live 4 hours from our nearest store. A few years ago we were much closer and often took advantage of their clever design and space saving ideas.

    As far as a living room bunk bed, I’m not ready for that yet. The kids would love it! We’re moving to Japan next year, so we might have to utilise a few more Ikea space savers.

  8. youngandthrifty Reply

    I love Ikea! But yeah that idea bout drawing the curtains is a bit riduculous. I really like their shoe-cupboards. I love their organizational ideas, I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.

  9. I like it that Ikea provides these kind of suggestions. I like their creative and innovative ideas to make living in a small area comfortable. Sometimes I am amused by their suggestions but I find them very useful. Their suggestions on maximizing space are just impressive.

  10. Denise @ The Single Saver Reply

    I love Ikea. I think Americans have a lot to learn about using space effectively, and how much space one really needs. It is amazing how large families are able to survive efficiently in small spaces in Europe without a second thought. Most single Americans would have trouble living in a similar space. But I think Ikea shows that it can be easily done!

    • @Denise – You make a good point; most Europeans are used to living in smaller quarters so their space has to be more efficient. Living in larger homes makes us lazy and unorganized! I think we can learn a lot from the Ikea showrooms. 😉

    • @101 Centavos – I definitely agree! They have some of the most clever ideas for organizing and efficiently utilizing space.

  11. Cherleen @ The College Investor Reply

    Ikea works best in organizing small spaces. We recently purchased an Ikea study table for my son. It has a bookshelf that also works as a divider. Very ergonomic!

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