Transparent Furniture Maximizes Small Spaces

My house is small. Just under 60 square meters. So, one of my main criteria when renovating and decorating was: how do I make this place not seem so small?

There are many wonderful tricks to make us believe that a small space is bigger than it really is.

A Ghost chair in Jennifer’s house. Photo: Moya Nolan

One of my favorites uses transparent materials. The transparency tricks the eye into believing that the room doesn’t really take up much space. Visually, it’s barely there! And yet we have the full use of the article at our disposal. For small spaces, it’s a win-win. Aesthetically it can be divisive, so if you like it, read on and if not, let me try to change your mind!


One of the most famous and popular transparent pieces of furniture is Philippe Starck’s Ghost Chair. Starck first designed the Louis Ghost – a shape inspired by the classic Louis XVI armchair, popular during the king’s reign. The Louis Ghost was made in 2002 by Kartell, and is quite a feat of engineering.

The polycarbonate chair is made from a single mold, which means the whole chair is one solid piece. The design is outstanding – anyone would think sitting on a piece of plastic would be uncomfortable at all, yet the opposite is true for the Ghost chair.

Jennifer's dining room with Ghost furniture.  Photo: Moya Nolan
Jennifer’s dining room with Ghost furniture. Photo: Moya Nolan

Maybe I wouldn’t spend hours lounging in it for a full Netflix marathon, but it’s a perfectly comfortable chair for occasional use. This makes it a great choice for a smaller living room where you might need extra seating but don’t want to add anything to make the space cluttered. I also like these chairs in bedrooms or dressing rooms.

The popularity of the Louis Ghost inspired Starck’s next design, the Victoria Ghost. Again, this polycarbonate chair is made from a single mould, but in a baroque style and has no armrests. This makes it a great choice for dining chairs, and it’s the style I chose for my own dining room.

The original Victoria Ghost is available from Kartell for around €550 for two chairs, but since I was on a budget I opted for replicas available from S Alternative Furniture in Dublin for €85 each. I love these chairs. They’re surprisingly comfortable, they don’t visually clutter the room, they can be used indoors and outdoors, and I love how they look.

Now you can also get transparent bar stools and counter stools – a great option for adding seating to a kitchen island without visually disrupting the space. If you like transparency but are looking for a little something extra, the Ghost chairs are also available in a range of colours.


One of the first transparent pieces of furniture, the Bubble Chair is a hanging chair designed by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio in the 1960s. Aarnio envisioned being cocooned in a bubble and the advancement of acrylic casting allowed him to create just that .

Hanging chairs are always popular. Although you need to leave room for the rocking action of the chair, visually they take up less space than an armchair – because they don’t touch the floor, they trick the eye into seeming take up less floor space.

This makes it a good choice for small spaces, and this is all the more true for the transparent Bubble Chair which visually takes up even less space. The Bubble Chair isn’t cheap — around $3,500 — but it’s a design classic that I covet desperately.

The Illusion table by Essey.
The Illusion table by Essey.


Another great use for transparent furniture in a small space is as a coffee table or side table. If you have a smaller living room, adding a coffee table could overwhelm the space by the time you have all your seating set up. If so, acrylic tables are a great way to provide a surface without dominating the room.

Kave Home offers a range of large single glass coffee tables or small side table nests for around £200-£250; and Ikea has a nest of three acrylic tables called the Jäppling, for just under €140.

The Kave Burano glass coffee table.
The Kave Burano glass coffee table.

Just to note, although acrylic is quite strong and durable, it can be prone to scratching, so be careful with sharp objects.

While see-through tables are great for visually decluttering a space, they also provide the perfect blank canvas if your goal is to do the opposite! I’m a big fan of maximalist design, and if that’s your thing, consider see-through tables or even bookcases as the perfect backdrop for you to go even further with fabulous items, or to show off your plaids and favorite cushions.

Saving the best for last, the Illusion table is a beautiful design created by Danish design firm Essey. The Illusion table looks like a floating tablecloth: it’s made from a single piece of acrylic glass and appears to have no legs, resting instead on the tips of the “tablecloth”. The Illusion tables are available in two sizes and their price ranges from 200 to 300 €. If minimalism is your style, I think this table is the perfect way to subtly bring something a little different into your home without the clutter.

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