Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

3 Big Stores Get Into Small Spaces

There was a time, not so long ago, when furniture stores assumed their customers wanted items that would fit well in an over-sized dream home. Furniture was marketed with easy mortgages and cheap credit in mind. Well, those days are over.

With more people living in square-footage-starved cities, and more people renting, a growing population is reevaluating the dimensions of their dream home. A few furniture retailers are taking heed of this trend, marketing specifically to consumers living in small spaces.

Restoration Hardware released its “Small Spaces” collection earlier this year. It is, they claim, “A collection of epic proportions.” It’s sufficiently important to the company that it’s on their site’s main navigation bar. The collection is shown in 15 “small” spaces from around the world like the “Chelsea Penthouse” or “London Townhouse.”

These spaces don’t seem that small to us, and there are no dimensions to contradict our impression. The furniture looks suspiciously similar to other pieces in the catalog: the big space love-seat becomes the small space couch; the end-table becomes the coffee table. Perhaps it’s relative. Maybe RH is catering to people who are transitioning from 4K to 2K sq ft of living space.

IKEA has been in the small space fray for a while now. The video below shows a number of ways you can use their products to squeeze tons of utility from a small space. They claim small space living is “not about giving up your dreams. It’s about shrinking them, just a little bit”–whatever that means. The video is pretty creative and compelling.

Many of their stores feature 375 sq ft mock-up apartments. The author visited one the other day and found the layout pretty nice.

The furniture in the apartment, like RH, seemed like their normal furniture plugged into a small space. Unlike RH, IKEA seemed to understand the necessity for storage in a small space; there were shelves everywhere and two of the walls had large storage systems.

They made what seemed like a strange choice, decking the living room with a big couch. It was strange until you sat in it and realized that a comfy couch is pretty important to demonstrating a space’s livability.

West Elm also features a small space collection. A couple of their pieces actually seemed to be designed for small spaces–not just a normal piece with a small space sticker slapped on it. In particular, the Storage Bed Frame and Rustic Storage Coffee Table (below) would be useful additions to a small space. The latter model’s tabletop lifts to provide a desk space if you find yourself working on the couch.

What do you think of these collections? Are they marketing gimmicks or indicators of they way people will live in the future? Or both? Have you bought any of these products? What was you experience? Let us know.