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5 Genius Tips for Maximizing Your Small San Francisco Home


In vibrant urban environments like San Francisco, designing small spaces is practically an art form. Every square inch matters. Thankfully, I thrive on a good design challenge. Awkward spaces, limited dimensions, and tight closets? I’ve seen it all. While bins and baskets might come to mind, there’s only so much they can do. It’s time to think outside the box.

As a seasoned interior designer, I’ve guided countless clients on how to live well in their small spaces, all while striking the delicate balance between functionality and aesthetics. Yup – it’s possible. Here’s how we do it…

1. Use Bright, Reflective Colors

Let’s start with the basics: tiny spaces crave brightness. It might not necessarily solve your storage woes, but choosing the right color will significantly impact the perception of your space. Light-colored walls, furnishings, and decor can create an illusion of openness. By choosing bright and reflective colors, we transform even the tiniest of rooms into inviting havens. Think less dungeon vibes, more airy oasis atmosphere.

coddington-design-bay-area-ca-maximizing-small-spaces-california-modern-living-room-neutral-palette-transitional-interior-designPhotography by Vivian Johnson

In our Scandi Modern Project, we used a neutral palette with accents of calming grays and blues. The result? A small space that feels bright and expansive. The addition of oak beams adds subtle dimension and naturally expands visual boundaries without overwhelming the room.

2. Strategic Mirror Placement

Mirrors are like magic, capturing and bouncing light throughout the room and creating the illusion of depth. It’s almost like adding square footage to your space without the need for a renovation. Needless to say, they’re a secret weapon of small space design. Small framed mirrors, full-length mirrors, and even mirrored furniture can all enhance this effect.


Photography by Vivian Johnson

Pro Tip: Place mirrors strategically opposite windows or in areas where they can catch natural light. 

3. Multifunctional Furniture is Your New BFF

When space is limited, every piece of furniture needs to pull its weight. Ditch the bulky stuff. Instead, opt for multifunctional furniture. Think: sleeper sofas that moonlight as guest beds, ottomans with hidden storage, and tables that expand for impromptu dinner parties (because who doesn’t love a surprise soirée?).

coddington-design-marin-county-ca-maximizing-small-spaces-dining-room-wallpaper-transitional-interior-designPhotography by Vivian Johnson

In our Piedmont Project, we chose a navy and burlwood credenza with plenty of extra storage space. Perfect for hiding extra table linens, serving dishes, or anything you need to keep within arm’s reach of your dining table.

4. When in Doubt, Go Vertical

When in doubt, go up. Walls are prime real estate for shelves, cabinets, hooks, and all things storage. Floor-to-ceiling bookcase? Genius. Floating shelves? Chic and functional. We are pros at maximizing vertical space with custom solutions that won’t make your place look like a storage locker. Take a look at one of our in-progress projects…


Rather than simply placing a sofa against the wall in this home office, we’re capitalizing on the vertical space. We designed built-ins to create additional storage for books and mementos, concealed drawers for the unsightly, and a comfortable seating area. Functional and gorgeous. Win.

Pssst…Make sure you stay updated so you don’t miss the final reveal of this space.

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5. Opt for Custom Storage Solutions 

Don’t have enough storage? We’ll create it. Tailored to your specific needs and space constraints, we design bespoke storage solutions to tackle clutter with finesse. Whether it’s optimizing closet space, designing custom built-ins, or incorporating sliding or folding doors for better accessibility, the possibilities are endless.

coddington-design-mill-valley-ca-maximizing-small-spaces-custom-closet-organizationPhotography by David Duncan Livingston

Whether you have a spacious walk-in closet like the one in our Beach House Project or navigating cramped quarters in your urban dwelling, custom storage solutions are a no-brainer for maintaining order and maximizing space.

Designing for Small Spaces

Small spaces can feel limiting, but they don’t have to be. With a little creativity (and our help), your urban shoebox will soon be a haven that’s both functional and elevated. When you’re ready, you know where to find us.



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