Converting Odd Shaped Spaces: How to Make the Most of Your Square Footage

Think of oddly shaped spaces as opportunities rather than hurdles to overcome for your home’s design.

It doesn’t matter whether your home is big or small, old or new—chances are you will come across a space that is oddly shaped and challenges your design process. While some may see these spaces as hurdles to their perfect home, others see it as an opportunity to create something unique. Don’t let it discourage you—we have a few tips that will help you make the most of your square footage.

Oddly shaped rooms come in all shapes and sizes, but often appear in the form of hallways, round rooms, rooms with too many windows or doors or those that are extremely large or small. Kate Marengo, founder and President of Interior Chicago, says these challenges are common.

I see a lot of spaces that it looks like the developers cut corners, creating unnecessary nooks that aren’t functional. It’s also common to see designs that don’t think of the overall layout and needs of a room.”

One of the first steps to take when dealing with an odd shaped room is to think about its functionality and how you are going to use it. Does this room need a conversation corner? Is it for storage, or even a nusery? These questions must be considered before diving in. Kristin Tagon, owner of Kristin Tagon Interior Designs in Chicago, explains, “Functionality is key. Is this to be a multipurpose space? A small space can be multi-functional if you use furniture pieces for multiple things.”

Kathryn Cherne, co-owner of Design Inside, advises, “Make it a top goal to maximize light, and a secondary goal to go for a thrilling first impression. Pull sofas away from the wall and use furniture as dividing elements. This is somehow one of the hardest things for people to do, but certainly one of the easiest to try.”

After you mull over the main purpose of your space and decide what you want out of it, you’ll know if there are certain pieces of furniture that are necessary to complete your vision. That means you can move on to decorating and designing. In order to make the most of the space, every decision and element of the room should be carefully considered.

“Don't cover every bit of wall in the room. If possible, try to move some furniture away from the perimeter. You also don’t want to buy everything all at once and then try to make it work. If you do, expect to take things back that don't fit,” says Tagon.

Remembering that furniture does not always have to be out against the walls or at the angle of the walls is also key. For a room with walls that are not at 90 degrees, furniture can be placed in a way that makes it look like they are. Adding a rug to seating arrangements will also add a cozy touch.

For a space that’s small, Marengo provides her top tip. “Go vertical! Utilize as much wall space as possible with bookshelves, taller dressers instead of wider and large scale artwork,” she says.

Once you’ve decided on the functionality, furniture and layout of the room, you can think more about the colors and smaller design aspects that pull a space together. Lighter colors are better for smaller rooms, and sticking to a few colors will keep the space uncluttered.

Try to keep the materials consistent instead of going eclectic, since this tends to make a smaller space feel cluttered and haphazardly done,” says Marengo.

Don’t be afraid to try different things in your unique space over time. No one has to know that you were limited with the shape of the space if you can make the most of it!