How to Make the Most of 5 Awkward Spaces

These strategies will help you maximize the potential of any room.

By Debbie Koenig

Every home has an oddly shaped nook, inaccessible corner, or room with an unfortunate abundance of architectural features. And you may not have the budget—or the carpentry skills—for custom-made solutions. Luckily, all you need is a little ingenuity to make a challenging area useful.

Image © białasiewicz


The No-Entryway Entrance
Not every home has room for a full foyer. A floating shelf affixed to the wall can handle your keys and mail, plus a bud vase or other decorative touch. If your kids’ discarded shoes and outerwear make the living room look more like a dorm room, add a row of hooks and a boot tray, or a stretch of cubbies topped with a bench cushion.

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The Kitchen with Challenging Storage
To make the most of a blind corner cabinet (you know, when two cabinets meet in the corner of the room, and one reaches all the way back into a dark, dusty cave), a lazy Susan makes a quick, moderately effective solution. Or if you’re handy, pick up two drawers from an organization store or thrift shop. Attach runners on the undersides, and in an L-shape on the floor of the cabinet. When you pull the first drawer out the cabinet door, it makes room to slide the other into accessible range behind it. For those with more wall space than cabinets, take your cue from Julia Child and affix a span of durable pegboard. Hang pots and pans, cooking utensils, gadgets—anything you can attach to a hook.

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Dust Hard-to-Reach Places With Swiffer
Are there families (or worse, entire herds) of dust bunnies gathering in the oddly shaped nooks and crannies in your house? Swiffer and Swiffer Duster can reach just about anywhere to get rid of them in no time at all!


The Living Room With Minimal Wall Space
For a room with multiple doorways, nooks, windows, and bump-outs, skip the traditional coffee table surrounded by sofa and chairs. Group seating into two smaller conversation areas instead, each with its own small table or tray-topped ottoman, leaving room for traffic to flow between them. Make sure to include some chairs that are light enough to move easily, for when a larger group wants to hang out together.

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The Attic Room
Make the most of nooks created by sloping ceilings with built-in shelves made from cut-to-order wood (paint them the same color as the walls to visually open up smaller spaces). For a no-tools-required storage solution, gather vintage wooden crates from the junk shop. Stack them sideways, with their openings facing out, like a giant game of Tetris. And don’t ignore the knee wall—the half-height section running the length of the slope. It’s the perfect place for a long, low bookshelf or dresser.

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The Space Under the Stairs
Even the smallest spot can become a home office, with a file cabinet supporting a desktop—which can be as simple as an old door or cut-to-order plywood, attached to the wall. Get Pinterest-y and paint both cabinet and desktop in a fun color. And instead of a traditional desk chair, choose a seat that coordinates with the rest of the space.

How have you made the most of the small spaces in your home?

Debbie Koenig writes about family and food, and is the author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too. Find her at

Image © Galanternik D.U.


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