7 Ways to Make the Most of Awkward Spaces in Your Home

Awkward spaces are small or oddly shaped areas within the home that can be difficult to furnish or decorate in a functional or aesthetically pleasing way. Some examples of awkward spaces include small alcoves, the space above cabinets and under stairs, rooms with irregular shapes, etc. These spaces can be challenging to work with because they may not fit standard-sized furniture or may have limited options for layout and design. However, with some creativity and careful planning, it is possible to make even the most awkward space functional and stylish.

Living room with furnitures close to each other

While setting up and decorating a home, there’s one inevitable problem that you’re likely to encounter eventually – those awkward spaces. We’ve all seen them – those weird shapes and angles, empty niches, unusable nooks and odd recesses glaring awkwardly at us, arousing that unsettling feeling that can ruin the vibe of a space.

It’s not just that they’re aesthetically unappealing, they have no practical or functional use either. It’s got to hurt seeing all that square footage you paid for with your hard-earned money go wasted.

And yet, you’ll find them in every home – remainders, leftovers, overlooked and unwanted territories.

It’s not all dreary though! There’s no space issue that some creativity and clever planning cannot resolve. Just look at these awkward spaces as opportunities to add a unique character and style to your space, and you’ll not only be able to tackle them, but actually even take advantage of them.

Here are some smart tricks to inspire you:

7 Clever Tricks to Deal with Awkward Spaces

1. A funny corner nook in the living room

Not all spaces are perfectly designed and there’s often a clash between architecture and structure that leads to the inadvertent odd nooks. If your living room has unfortunately landed with one, turn it into a blessing by converting it into a cozy reading nook. Add a comfy chair or a small couch, a side table and a lamp to make it welcoming.

A seat in between two book shelves
A corner of a room filled with plants

But if the alcove is just too small to fit furniture, consider turning it into your plant area instead. A lovely fiddle leaf fig or a monstera with its leaves overflowing the niche could change that ugly focal point into a lovely one. If plants are not really your thing, you could also put up artwork, collectibles or any other items you’d like to showcase and soften up that hard, awkward corner. 

2. An entrance door that opens right into the living room

In densely packed areas of large cities, it’s almost laughable to expect to have a separate entryway into your apartment. Doors open straight into your studio or living room – a direct and awkward exposé of your home and private life. Plus, they’re functionally odd, disrupting the flow of the traffic through the living room.

A big door leading to the living room
A room divider between the living room sofa and another space

A quick and easy solution is to place some furniture or a large plant as a visual barrier between the door and the living room. Alternatively, you could simply set up a neat and clean divider instead, and consider a stylish partition like this Abstract Modern Room Divider. It takes all of a few minutes to assemble and is light and reusable, which means you can always carry it with you when you move apartments.

3. Weird empty space under the staircase

While the space under the staircase may be small and oddly-shaped, making  it challenging to use, it’s far from useless! Set up a small desk and a chair, and add some storage solutions and see how it quickly converts into a charming little home office.

A mini desk under the staircase

For a staircase that’s right at the entrance, you could consider adding a bench with storage, a coat rack and a shoe rack instead. If it’s located close to the kitchen, turn it into a mini pantry or kitchen storage area by adding shelves or racks to store canned goods, spices, and other small items.

4. Wasted space behind a door

If your door opens with a tiny alcove behind it – which doors often do – you’re left with some blank space that has apparently no practical use at all. It doesn’t help that this waste of space becomes painfully evident every time the door shuts.

A stool across the door opening
Shelves filled with home items such as plants, towels, and wall clock 

One simple solution is to install a set of over-the-door organizers or hooks to hang jackets, bags and hats, or shelves to store shoes and household items. If the room is small, you could also install a full-length mirror on the wall behind the door to make the space look larger and more airy.

Alternatively, convert that weird, blank space into a focal point in the room by hanging some striking artwork or even a whiteboard where you jot down ideas and notes you’d like to stare at instead.

5. A den that’s not really a den

Dens are common in some of the older homes and are meant to serve as a study or entertainment room. They’re meant to be small but a lot of them are also awkwardly-sized and shaped, and many don’t even come with a door. You can’t be blamed for thinking of them as a mere appendage to the living room – impractical and purposeless.

A living room featuring a partition wall

If your house has one of those dens taking up square footage with no real use, you could turn that around. A partition wall with a door like this Freestanding Partition Wall can convert it into a separate room which you can then use as a media room, home office, hobby room, gym or even a small guest room! The best part is, you don’t need any expert installation – it’s a fully modular, DIY setup that takes just a couple of hours to assemble.

Have an oddly-shaped den that you just can’t seem to make use of? Contact us! Our expert space-designers will help you come up with a solution.

6. The space above the kitchen cabinet

Kitchen cabinets usually go up to 7’ high while the ceiling is at 9’ or higher. This leaves a minimum of 2’ of empty, awkward space above the cabinet – too narrow to store things and too high to access regularly.

A shelf filled with kitchen items
A cabinet with plants and bottles on top that works as a design

One good idea to deal with the weirdness of this space is to place décor elements like vases and figurines to liven up your kitchen. It’s also a great place to place a pot of artificial plants to add that pop of green. Hanging plants with cascading stems would look especially gorgeous trailing down from that height, don’t you think? 

7. A long, narrow hallway

If you ended up bearing the brunt of a poorly planned apartment with a long and narrow hallway, your resentment and contempt are totally understandable. Nobody should have to walk through a cramped and confined, poorly-lit entrance to get to their home.

A narrow, long hallway showcasing photo frames
A hallway with a mini sofa

It’s nothing that cannot be fixed, or at least made less awkward though. Consider adding some interesting elements along the way – some lovely art, family photos, mirrors, or even a large mural on the wall. You could also bring in some indoor plants to liven up the space, and make it feel less imposing. For a warm and welcoming feeling, ensure that the space has ample light.

One excellent way to reduce the narrow-ness of the hallway is to lower the ceiling height by installing a false-ceiling. You could also consider suspending a beautiful rug on hooks at the four corners to bring a better scale and proportion to the narrow space.

Think outside the box

Nobody wants awkward spaces but despite the best of design efforts, they do end up in almost every home. The best way to deal with them is to look at them as a creative challenge that can add an interesting element – a character to your décor. Odd niches, alcoves, angles, and awkward spaces are uncomfortable because they’re unconventional, so it follows that they need unconventional ideas to turn around!