Survey: Biggest Challenges of Living in a Small Space - Pier 1

Survey: Biggest Challenges of Living in a Small Space

The Biggest Challenges of Living in a Small Space

Small space woes? You’re not alone!

Home became a focus over the last year as many people spent more time at home than ever before. Home decor and furniture sales were up across all categories in 2020, and sales in certain home categories increased by as much as 35% above sales from the previous year!

As more people continue to direct their efforts at redesigning or remodeling their homes, one segment of the population feels more restricted than others – those living in smaller quarters.

To discover more, we surveyed people who live in smaller homes (less than 1,000 square feet) to learn how they feel about living in a smaller space and what the biggest challenges they face are.

Some of the biggest findings are:

  • 89% of our participants wish they lived in a bigger home.
  • 81% of our participants would compromise on the quality and/or location of their home to have more space.

But living in a small space isn’t a bad thing. In fact, there are lots of ways you can use smart design to make the most out of a small space. Check out the biggest takeaways from our survey and get inspired with some clever small space hacks.

Small Space, Big Challenges

We asked participants what the biggest challenges their smaller space presents are. What ranked No. 1? “Not enough storage” was the most common challenge (45%), followed by:

  • “Not enough closet space” (39%)
  • “No garage” (36%)
  • “No office/workspace” (34%)
  • “No outdoor space” (34%)
  • “No room for entertaining” (33%)
  • “No room separation” (33%)
  • “No counter space” (32%)
  • “No entryway” (29%)
  • “Poor lighting” (25%)
  • “Excess noise” (19%)

Storage space is one of the most impactful features a home can have since it helps eliminate clutter while allowing people to retain possessions. As a result of a lack of storage space, people look for alternative ways to store their belongings. A recent study showed that 10.6% of U.S. households currently rent a self-storage facility, which is an all-time high!

The Number One Area People Wish They Had More Space? The Kitchen

So, in which area of the home do people who live in smaller spaces wish they had more space? The majority (69%) said the kitchen.

Interestingly, this question came after a year when many Americans spent quite a bit more time at home than they ever did previously. A USDA analysis found that with so many people working from home, a higher percentage of people cooked more meals, and these people spent more time in the kitchen than in previous years.  

The kitchen is closely followed by the living room (67%), master bedroom (55%), dining room (50%), and bathroom(s) (48%). The surprising part? A dedicated office or workspace scored relatively low (29%) comparatively, especially when you consider the number of people who have shifted to working from home over the last year.

The Most Coveted Home Features

As you might expect, 89% of survey participants said there is a feature they wish their home had. Our survey uncovered several interesting data points about the most coveted home features people who live in smaller spaces want. Let’s go over the most desirable home feature as well as the features people wish they had in their kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.

The most desirable home feature is a modern/open-concept kitchen

The most desirable home feature is a modern/open-concept kitchen, with 35% selecting this as number one, followed by:

  • Kitchen island
  • Open living space
  • En-suite master bath
  • Walk-in closet
  • Extra bedroom
  • Dedicated office/workspace
  • Front porch and/or patio
  • Garage
  • Yard

Luckily, even when your kitchen space is limited and you dream of a modern/open-concept kitchen, there are design strategies you can use to create a more modern and open feel. Just because you’re short on space doesn’t mean you lack creativity!

One such design tip is to add natural light. If you have windows in your kitchen, make sure the curtains are light enough to let as much sunlight through as possible. For kitchens that are positioned in a room without sources of natural light, strategically place mirrors so they reflect light and become their own source of brightness.

Trying a lighter color palette is another effective design trick that makes a space feel open. White cabinets lend themselves to a modern look and are timeless. Paint walls or use backsplash tiles that are also of a lighter hue. Everything from white porcelain dishware to bright dish towels can impact the feel of your kitchen space.

Another choice that shifts the feel of a kitchen without knocking down any walls is replacing bulky cabinets with open shelving. Open shelves lend an airiness to the space that closed cabinets cannot. They are also a great way to show off your favorite dinnerware.

Counter space and cabinet space are the most desirable kitchen features

We looked at desirable features room by room and when it comes to the kitchen, the most desirable features are 1) counter space, and 2) cabinet space, followed by drawers, eat-in dining area, open layout, and natural light, respectively.

Clever ideas like installing hooks to hang mugs and decanting bulk items with canisters can free up valuable counter and cabinet space.

Walk-in closets are the most desirable bedroom feature

The most coveted bedroom feature? A walk-in closet, according to more than 33% of participants who rank this feature number one. A walk-in closet is followed by more storage space overall, an en-suite bathroom, wall space, and natural light, respectively.

While it’s easy to simply leave your closet as-is, if you want to maximize your space like our survey participants indicate they do, there are quick additions you can make that have a big impact. Over-the-door organizers allow you to turn a door into a useful space that can hold a tremendous number of accessories, shoes, or clothing.

Instead of having your shoes scattered across the closet floor, keep them tidy and compact by using soft storage. Rather than leaving out of season clothes in your closet year-round, store them in under-the-bed soft storage and see how much roomier your closet feels!

Add drawers to your closet that keep items organized and compactly stored with non-woven closet storage bins that come in a range of sizes to fit on any shelf or in any corner. Even if your closet isn’t a walk-in, you can accommodate far more items comfortably with a few easy additions.

More storage and counterspace are the most desirable bathroom features

The most coveted bathroom features are 1) more storage, and 2) counter space, followed by a vanity, a bathtub, ventilation, wall space, and natural light, respectively.

Although a small space may feel limiting, smart solutions can expand your storage and counter space while working within the confines of your bathroom. Keep your shampoo, conditioner, soap, and other bathing products on this four-tier corner shower shelf that has room for everything.

No medicine cabinet? No problem! With floating shelves, you can store all of your bathroom necessities off the countertop and within arm’s reach.

There is a tendency for small bathrooms to lack anywhere to hang towels, but with a bathroom wall shelf that includes a dowel for your towels, that problem is solved.

Clever Small Space Hacks

Despite the challenges of living in a smaller space, survey participants regularly try to find ways to make their home look and feel bigger with small space “hacks”. 83% frequently research ways to make their home look and feel bigger.

Participants say they employ several small space “hacks” including “defining separate areas of their home” (53%), “investing in dual-purpose furniture” (48%), “investing in organization systems like over-the-door shoe hangers” (46%), and more.

Another interesting finding was that 86% said they find that furniture is often too big to fit into their home and 90% said they wish there were more furniture options specifically for smaller spaces.

The idea of incorporating pieces that serve multiple purposes is one of the best small space “hacks” that allows you to have everything you need while still maintaining a comfortable number of pieces in a room. This compact sectional storage bench has a cushioned seat, shoe storage, a tabletop, and a cabinet all in one piece of furniture. And this rolling kitchen island offers a roomy countertop, shelving for storage, and towel racks. Multi-purpose furniture pieces like these save space without compromising your needs.

Dream-Worthy Interior Design Trends for Smaller Spaces

We asked participants what the interior design trends are that they would be most interested in trying if their smaller space allowed for it. The top five interior design trends participants said they would like to try if they had more space are:

  1. Accent wall
  2. Barn door
  3. Canopy bed
  4. Exposed brick
  5. Gallery walls

Although it may seem impossible, with a touch of creativity, there may be ways to incorporate these trends on a smaller scale to get a similar look. Consider how slight adjustments to furniture placement or rearranging other decorative items might enable you to try design trends you otherwise thought were out of the question.

The Pandemic Changed How People Feel About Their Smaller Spaces

One thing nearly everyone agrees on? That the stay-at-home order and COVID-19 made them feel like their home feels smaller than they previously thought. 79% said they “strongly agree” or “agree,” while just 8% said they disagreed. In addition, 71% said their well-being has suffered due to the size of their home.

Research supports those feelings with studies showing quarantined people are likely to show mood changes that include depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and more. These sentiments make it clear how important it is to make the most out of a small home by creating a sense of enlargement and ensuring every piece is highly functional.

Maximize Your Small Space with Pier 1

Living in a small space may feel constricting at times, but with Pier 1’s stylish home decor, you can shift your sense of the space. Find everything you need from lighting to organization furniture and expand your home beyond expectation.

Are you ready to challenge the meaning of small? Shop Pier 1 today and discover a world where small is eclipsed by smart and stylish.

Our Survey Methodology

To understand the challenges small living spaces present to people, we conducted an online survey with 600 participants. All of the people surveyed live in a home that is less than 1,000 square feet, in the United States.

The sizes of the participants’ homes range, and the breakdown is as follows:

  • 0 – 250 square feet: 9%
  • 251 – 500 square feet: 23%
  • 501 – 750 square feet: 35%
  • 751 – 999 square feet: 33%

All percentages in this survey are rounded to the nearest whole percent.