The best books about small space design

Who am I?

I know small spaces from first-hand experience. As a writer based in New York City, I have lived in a series of impossibly small spaces, including a 6’ x 8’ bedroom in an apartment with no living room and a teeny-tiny studio that was made livable by installing a Murphy bed. Today I live in less than 700 square feet with my husband and son. When I set out to write my own book, I wanted to inspire readers to make the most of their own small homes and discover the freedom that living small provides. I have an extensive personal library of books about small space design, but these five are my all-time favorites.


I wrote...

The Little Book of Living Small

By Laura Fenton,

Book cover of The Little Book of Living Small

What is my book about?

The Little Book of Living Small offers practical advice for managing a tight footprint. Packed with actionable advice, The Little Book of Living Small shows readers how to make the most of limited square footage―with grace and style―and serves as the cheerleader readers need to help themselves feel satisfied and proud of their choice to live with less. The book features twelve case study homes in which style-savvy, small-space dwellers (from singles to families of four) open their doors and share their design secrets. Stylistically these homes range from urban to rural, minimalist to bohemian, with the unifying thread that they are all real homes of 1,200 square feet or less and offer clever solutions for you to use in your own home.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Small Space Style: Because You Don't Need to Live Large to Live Beautifully

Laura Fenton Why did I love this book?

I couldn’t agree more with the subtitle to Whitney’s book “Because You Don't Need to Live Large to Live Beautifully.” Small Space Style is jam-packed with ideas for how to maximize a small space with a focus on doable, do-it-yourself projects that work for renters. Plus, the book has tons of photographs of Whitney’s former home, a tiny one-bedroom cottage in Venice Beach. This book is for anyone with an itch to DIY or who loves the boho, Cali style.

By Whitney Leigh Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Small Space Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Interior design maven Whitney Leigh Morris makes living in under 400 square feet look elegant and effortless-even with a husband, baby, and two Beagles in the mix. In her debut book, Whitney shares her ideas and practices for making any tiny space efficient and stylish-whether it's a rustic A-frame in the woods or a chic microapartment in the city.

Featuring more than 200 tips for making the most of your little home, Small Space Style is the must-have, incredibly inspirational guide for living large in compact quarters. Join small space lifestyle expert Whitney Leigh Morris as she demonstrates how to…


Book cover of Country Living Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces

Laura Fenton Why did I love this book?

Do not be deterred by the words “country” and “tiny” in this book’s title! This is a fantastic collection of small-ish homes that ran in the American edition of Country Living magazine. There are only a couple of actual tiny homes—most are more in the range of 1,000 or so feet. Likewise, very few of the homes are deeply “country” in style; instead, the overall look of the interiors is a fresh take on farmhouse style – with urban apartments and minimalist homes in the mix. The photography is beautiful, and there are so many homes included that this is a great value for its cover price.

By Country Living,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Country Living Tiny Homes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bigger isn't always better: Country Living offers a look inside more than 25 tiny homes that maximize function and style.

Downsizing has become a big trend--and many people are choosing to live small and smart in compact houses that don't require huge mortgages or upkeep. Country Living showcases a coast-to-coast collection of sustainable dwellings, all ranging from 100 to 1,500 square feet. Take an inside tour of these impressive little abodes, like a converted 1840s schoolhouse in New York, a 22- x 24-foot kit barn in California wine country, a 1914 New Hampshire coastal row home, and a renovated 1950s…


Book cover of Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More

Laura Fenton Why did I love this book?

This book is not specifically about small spaces, but it would be a valuable addition to any small-space library for its message of living with less and conscious consumption. I discovered Erin’s writing and her blog Reading My Tea Leaves when I was a new mom looking for examples of families choosing to live in small spaces. Erin’s book Simple Matters is one I turn back to whenever I need a fresh burst of inspiration to declutter, simplify, and embrace a slower style of home-keeping. Simple Matters is not a coffee table book, it is meant to be picked up and read. 

By Erin Boyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Simple Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Erin Boyle shares practical guidance and personal insights on small-space living and conscious consumption. At once pragmatic and philosophical, Simple Matters is a nod to the growing consensus that living simply and purposefully is more sustainable not only for the environment, but for our own happiness and well-being, too. Boyle embraces the notion that "living small" is beneficial and accessible to us all-whether we're renting a tiny apartment or purchasing a three-story house. Filled with personal essays, projects, and helpful advice on how to be inventive and resourceful in a tight space, Simple Matters shows that living simply is about…


Book cover of The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live

Laura Fenton Why did I love this book?

There is a reason this book was a best-seller when it came out in 1998: It is full of wisdom about how to create a deeply personal home that is right-sized to your life. The interiors in The Not So Big House feel a little dated nearly 25 years later (and are not to my personal tastes, which skew more modern), but I still consider this book a must-read for anyone building or renovating a small home. I also love Sara’s book for its quality over quantity message that helped shift the conversation about homes when it debuted. I own all of Susanka’s books and they are filled with post-it notes because they are referenced often.

By Sarah Susanka, Kira Obolensky,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Not So Big House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This title offers an inspiration for homeowners and builders from a leading architect. "The Not So Big House" has sold over 500,000 copies since 1998. It features clear guidance that emphasises the use of quality not quantity. This anniversary edition includes 32 extra pages and a new introduction. Now available in paperback, the expanded 10th anniversary edition of Sarah Susanka's "The Not So Big House" is ready to inspire a whole new generation of homeowners and builders. Though a decade has passed, her deceptively simple message remains as powerful as ever: when it comes to our homes, quality should always…


Book cover of The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes

Laura Fenton Why did I love this book?

There are dozens of small-space books that I could have chosen for decor inspiration, but this one from Monocle is a personal favorite, in part because the photos, while gorgeous, are not overly styled. It features homes from around the world, including many in Europe, and most are primary residences, not guest houses or weekend homes that often fill small-space books. Much like the magazine, this book opens with several thoughtful essays on what it means to live in a “cosy” space. With its linen cover and hefty size, it would make a great housewarming gift for anyone living in a small space.

By Monocle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Monocle book tells us how to turn a house into a home. Both a practical guide and a great source of inspiration, The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes presents the interiors, furniture, and locations you need to know about along with portraits of the people who can make it happen. The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes celebrates the durable and the meaningful through a collection of homes that tell a story. Most architecture and interior books show houses polished to perfection, manicured to the extent that it is hard to imagine anybody acually lives there: they seem to miss…


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Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

By Chris Lukather,

Book cover of Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

Chris Lukather Author Of Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Creative Artistic Funny Passionate Thoughtful

Chris' 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Homes by Byrd examines the story of this father-son team, demonstrating their impact on the design of homes in Southern California and describing the hallmarks of their enduring style.

Byrd homes are archetypes of California living. Many elements of a Byrd Home, such as exposed wood beams, turned posts, rock and flagstone finishes, and whimsical brickwork, may be familiar to those in Hollywood and Beverly Hills during the mid to late twentieth century. Byrd homes were built in the California Ranch style and featured natural materials that lent the homes a comfortable, symbiotic, and timeless ambiance.

Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary

By Chris Lukather,

What is this book about?

Chris Lukather, founder and editor of the literary journal, The Writing Disorder, has released the latest in his series of books featuring iconic California 20th Century home builders. In his new book, Homes by Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son, Gary, he examines the story of this father and son team, demonstrating their impact on the design of single-family homes in Southern California, describing the hallmarks of their enduring style. Byrd homes are archetypes of California living. While many people in Hollywood and real estate are familiar with the name and distinctive style of Robert…


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