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Creative ways to customize awkward areas

March 4, 2024

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Living in a house often means dealing with awkward areas – those spaces that are oddly shaped, cramped, or just plain weird. As a homeowner, I used to view these quirky spots as downsides to work around. However, I’ve learned that with a little creativity, awkward areas can become charming focal points that add character to your home. Here are some of my favorite tips for customizing the awkward parts of your house.

Repurpose awkward small spaces

Tiny nooks like the area under a stairwell or an odd closet are troublesome because their shape and size make them hard to utilize. But just because they are awkward does not mean they have to go to waste! Here are some creative ways I’ve found to repurpose my home’s petite peculiar places:

  • Turn an undersized space into a reading nook. Install a small bench or comfy chair and add mood lighting – suddenly that cramped corner becomes a cozy escape! I brought in a cute little armchair and side table to make a reading area under my stairs.

  • Convert an awkward closet to a bar. Tiny closets can actually be perfect for a compact home bar! Install shelves, add a counter, and fill it with your favorite spirits and barware. Mine fits two stools so guests can sit and fix their own drinks.

  • Build customized storage in wasted spaces. Maximize a slim slot of space by installing shelving sized to perfectly fit. I had cabinetry custom-built to hold office supplies in two slim spaces flanking my staircase.

Getting creative allowed me to carve out usable spots from my home’s most challengingly small areas. Don’t let the odd proportions of petite rooms or spaces stifle you – lean into their quirks instead!

Embrace irregular room shapes

Rooms that are unusually angled, with slanted ceilings or alcoves, also present design challenges. But I’ve found that working with the unique shape of a space, rather than against it, leads to eye-catching results. Here are some strategies I suggest:

  • Use irregular walls to delineate zones. An oddly shaped open concept area can be divided into functional spaces by arranging furniture to create natural separations between “rooms.” My dining area flows right into the living room – I placed the table diagonally in the slanted corner to differentiate the two zones.

  • Work with ceiling slope to create interest. Vary fixture heights in rooms with slanted ceilings for a stunning look. I installed my pendant light lower over the dining table, and higher in the adjacent kitchen’s angled ceiling.

  • Incorporate architectural details. Make small cutout spaces decorative by turning them into open shelving or display cases. The tiny angled nook along my staircase is now a lit display case showing off collectibles.

Once I stopped fighting my home’s uniqueness and leveraged the design potential, the irregular proportions became my favorite features. Think outside the box to make your home’s quirks shine.

Turn awkward hallways into an art gallery

Long, empty hallways are often the most neglected and uninspiring part of a home. At first, I felt the long narrow hallway leading to my bedrooms was an awkward waste of space. But I realized the empty walls provided the perfect blank canvas to create a rotating art gallery. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to do the same:

  • Pick a theme or color scheme. I opted for black-and-white photos of nature scenes to complement my decor. Whatever you choose, maintaining a consistent aesthetic ties the space together.

  • Style frames cohesively. I used simple black frames in various sizes to keep the focus on the artwork. Matching the frames makes the hallway feel curated.

  • Light it properly. Install lighting that illuminates the art without creating glare. I lined my hall with adjustable picture lights.

  • Rotate displays seasonally. Refresh the look by updating the prints every few months. I change mine to evoke the season – light summer landscapes in August, falling leaves in October, etc.

With thoughtful lighting and captivating artwork, the long hallway outside my bedrooms went from being a barren eyesore to one of my favorite spots in the house.

Make use of the area above cabinets

An often overlooked and underutilized awkward area is the space above kitchen cabinets and built-ins. Rather than leaving it empty, I found cool ways to take advantage of this vertical real estate:

  • Display collections. Open shelving installed above cabinetry becomes instant display space. I have shelves showing off my vintage pottery above one section of kitchen cabinetry.

  • Add extra storage. Enclose the area above the cabinets to create bonus storage space. Concealed behind doors, it won’t clutter the room. I store lesser used serving pieces in my new cabinetry above.

  • Create a focal point. Turn it into an art installation by affixing items directly to the wall. I have a section of wood-framed chicken wire above my cabinets where I attach colorful glass bottles to create an eye-catching arrangement.

Once I realized how this often unused space could be creatively utilized, it became one of my favorite small design touches in my home. Try taking advantage of the expanse above built-in cabinetry – it offers so many possibilities!


Awkward areas like cramped corners, angled architecture, empty hallways, and neglected spaces can seem limiting at first. But with creativity and an open mind, they become opportunities to add personalized style. Embrace your home’s uniqueness, think outside the box, and your awkward areas can be transformed into charming focal points brimming with character. For me, learning to reimagine challenging spaces was one of the most rewarding parts of home ownership. So don’t shy away from those problem areas – with a little ingenuity, they might just become your favorite spots.

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