Make the Most of Your Small Walls

Baskets are hung on the wall to store small items.

Every home has small walls and areas where narrow space makes decorating a nightmare. What should you do with that narrow blank space at the end of the hall, or that short little area between rooms? Dust off your tools and start using some creativity to turn those small walls into big design assets.

Short Walls, Big DIY Ideas

hand paintings on wall

Small walls end up becoming dead space in many homes because they’re hard to decorate. Normal shelving units and bookcases take up too much space, or just don’t fit at all. Large pieces of art make the area look crowded, or block off something you need to access. But for every small wall, there’s a DIY solution that will turn it into usable space that you can be proud of.

Go Across the Doorway

Is a door shortening your wall space? Build shelving on either side and then go across the top. Place shelving up above the doorway, too, and the two short walls are suddenly extended into one larger area. Now the doorway is a feature of the wall. Just remember to place decorative-only objects on those shelves, or you’ll be dragging the stepladder over a lot.

Use Baskets

Mount shelf brackets on the wall and put baskets, instead of boards, on them. Baskets hold more stuff than shelves, and you don't have to keep them as neat as open shelving. This gives you extra storage space on that otherwise unusable wall. Even narrow baskets can hold a lot of stuff.

Place Hooks All Over It

Put several hooks on the wall near the front or back door to hang umbrellas, coats, and other items, and free up some closet space while you're at it.

Use the Corners

Short on wall space? Start using every single bit of it. Build small corner shelves to store decorative items and photos, and make that dead space an asset.

Go Deep

Have a short wall in a narrow space? Instead of hanging something on the wall and taking more space away from that area, cut out a piece of the wall and build yourself some space. Cut between studs, build a frame with 2x4s and plywood, and nail the frame directly to studs on either side. Then, add a plywood shelf, or two, before you place trim around the frame and paint it all. Now you’ve got a set-in shelf area that allows you to use the wall without reducing your square footage.

Use Color to Create an Optical Illusion

Make walls appear longer and rooms bigger with color blocking paint. Thick horizontal stripes, for example, will make the wall look wider, and the contrast of bright white against another color can make a room feel bigger.

Hang Your Own Art Gallery

Turn a small wall into a feature of the home by covering it with small pictures. Hang them up and down a significant portion of the wall, and suddenly the small wall is a conversation piece.

Small Walls are the Best Walls

large hallway

Areas of the home with small wall space can feel limiting at first. There are actually a lot of different things you can do with small walls that make them a real feature of the home. Scale down your design ideas. Use small frames, short shelves, hooks, and other space-saving items that make the wall usable but not overpowered.

If you can’t buy something in the right size, get out a saw and sander and cut your own plywood shelves to size. Make your own custom, DIY wall elements to get the most out of those small walls. After all, it’s your home. You have every right to use all the available space in it.