Making the Best Out of a Small Living Space

Paint brush with sample colours

Owning your own home is a big deal, even the if the home in question doesn’t quite have mansion proportions. The thing is, small living spaces can quickly start to feel cramped and chaotic without continued attention to the little things. Before you consider uprooting, give some thought first to upgrading.

A home improvement loan can go a long way if the walls feel like they're closing in. Here are our top tips for expanding the feel of your living quarters without needing to take a sledgehammer to the walls.

Think Big


When you first moved in, you probably bought the usual three-piece suite, coffee table, and TV unit, but smaller versions to fit the room. Or the tiny bedroom might have been fitted with an equally tiny bed and bedside lockers. The thing is, this common attempt to make the room feel normal-sized could actually be emphasising the miniature proportions.

Try ditching the TV unit and mounting the box to the wall, swapping the coffee table for a magically multi-purpose footrest/coffee table/storage box. Use the newfound space for a generously sized couch that gives the impression of luxurious lazing, rather than squashed up sitting, and you’ll have added a sense of space without knocking down the walls.

The same idea can be applied to every room. Ditch the bedside tables for floating shelves and go kingsized on the bed. Swap those cabinets out for super-sized shelves and watch the kitchen open up. Swap the mean mirror in the hall for an eye-tricking mammoth version and you’ll be adding space where there once was none.

Mighty Multitaskers

Sometimes you need to be clever with furniture but sometimes it’s the furniture that needs to smarten up. Multi-tasking pieces can make a huge difference in a smaller space, allowing you the flexibility to change their use depending on the situation.

A modular couch isn’t the cheapest option, but if it can transform from a bed-like snuggle den on family night to a roomy L-shape when you have guests over, it pays for itself twice fold. A drop-leaf kitchen table, an armchair that folds out to be a guest bed, an office desk that slides out from under an unassuming shelf; smart furniture is your friend here and a worthy investment if it enhances your lifestyle.

Lighten Up


Speaking of opening up the room, there’s little that will add a sense of airiness quite like a muted colour palette of bright, light walls. A lick of paint often gives you the best bang for your buck in terms of impact, so be sure to include a few buckets of the good stuff when you’re setting out your budget.

Clean, neutral walls allow the light to bounce around the room and gives an added sense of space, and some tonal shades will add some interest and depth to counteract any potential plainness. If you really can’t live without a pop of colour or accent walls, look upwards. A vibrant ceiling against an otherwise neutral room adds a point of interest and some personality without shrinking the room.

The Final Edit

All the clever ideas in the world won’t help you increase your space if it’s being suffocated by clutter. A ruthless edit of your belongings will let you see what you already have and what you really need.

Pretend you have an unlimited budget for a little while and ask yourself what pieces are really of use and what are just getting in your way because “they’ll do”. You’d be surprised how little you’ll need from a home improvement loan if you’re not mentally trapped by objects that no longer suit your needs. Passing a too-big lamp on to someone, for example, and opting for a sleeker version, can have a big impact on your small space. As you well know, little things can make a mighty difference.

Making Some Home Improvements?

If you’re trying to make the most of your space, a Home Improvement Loanfrom AIB can help. AIB offer loans from €1,000 with a loan decision in just three hours*. You can apply online through AIB Internet Banking and the AIB Mobile App. You can also book a branch appointment or phone 0818 724 725 if you’d like to speak to someone in person.

Use our handyloan calculatorto find out how much you can borrow today.

*3 hour loan decision applies to fully completed new personal loan applications processed within 3 hours 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri excl. bank holidays. Loans from €1,000-€30,000. Excludes applications: to restructure or clear existing AIB credit facilities; received through Branch and referred to a lender for review, from customers in financial difficulty; for Student and First loans; applications through Business Centres; or where total borrowings exceed €100,000 (excluding Home Loan debt up to €600,000).

Copyright Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. 1995.