10 Animal Crossing Empty Space Ideas

The perfect guide for players unsure what to include in small areas!

14 Min Read

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, one of the biggest struggles is decorating your island from head to toe. Finding the creativity and inspiration to do so can always be a challenge. However, one of the hardest parts of the process is choosing what to build in small areas. So, sit tight, and continue reading our recommendation of 10 ACNH empty space ideas


Mini Library and Reading Area

One of my favorite fillers for empty areas in Animal Crossing is a mini library or reading area. Using items such as bookshelves can create a sense of an enclosed yet still open area. Most small reading area builds use log furniture, such as the log table and chairs. This makes it very accessible for new players, as the DIY recipes to create these items are easily acquired.

Bookshelves on the other hand are a harder to acquire item – as it requires five books and ten pieces of regular wood. Books can be bought individually from Nooks Cranny – when available – however, you can purchase multiple at a time. Once you have catalogued them, you can order more using the Nook Shopping feature. You can also always just trade with players on sites such as Nookazon to gather bookshelves to use.

In general, reading areas and outdoor libraries are great Animal Crossing small space ideas. Villagers love to get engrossed in books, especially in creative and cozy little nooks like these!


Picnic Area

Another great option to fill in small areas on your island is creating picnics! This works especially well for cottage-core, normcore, or just more natural island designs in general. Items to be used in picnic areas often include log furniture again, and cushions such as zen cushions. Players often place items on the furniture such as picnic baskets or other food-related items.

But what is a picnic without a rug or blanket? Unfortunately, you can’t place rugs outside in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. However, that doesn’t stop creative players from designing their own picnic rugs and blankets using custom designs. Custom-designed picnic blankets can be found online and downloaded using the Custom Designs Portal in your island’s Able Sisters shop. You can find a plethora of amazing player-made designs on sites such as Twitter and Pinterest.

Picnic areas are some of the best ACNH ideas for small areas and can be enjoyed by players or villagers. You may even be lucky enough to have a picnic with a fellow villager!


Mini Farms

The Animal Crossing: New Horizons 2.0 update introduced a bunch of new crops, such as wheat and potatoes. Players have been using these to create beautiful little farm areas, reminiscent of Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon. Mini farms are great ACNH empty space ideas, as they can be as they can give a real farm vibe to your island. Albeit, in microscopic amounts!

Mini farms can be as simple as you want, featuring just dirt paths, crops, and maybe a few shrubs or trees. Enclose the area in a country fence, and you have the perfect little mini-farm area. You can even spruce it up a bit more by including farm-related items, such as a scarecrow or handcart.


Vending Machine Area

Another of my favorite ACNH ideas for small areas is a mini dedicated vending machine area. Vending machines take up one by two spaces on your island, and so can be very easily fit in the smallest of nooks. Many players use the vending machines to replicate those seen in the tiny suburban streets of Tokyo.

Vending machines can be acquired by purchasing them for Nook Miles at a Nook Terminal, or by trading with players. You can always find them for sale on sites such as Nookazon. Vending machine areas are perfect for more urban island designs, especially those that are more ‘towny’. Having said that, some of the rural island builds still even make use of the idea of small spaces. Vending machines aren’t a rare sight in rural Japanese villages!


Mini Gyms

Some of the villagers in the game are obsessed with going to the gym. They belong to the jock personality of Animal Crossing villagers. But, to their dismay, there isn’t an actual gym in the game. Not unless you build one! Gyms make great Animal Crossing small space ideas, as they usually don’t require much space. They can also be enjoyed by the more health-conscientious villagers that your island has!

Popular items to use in mini gym builds include the barbell, exercise ball, pull-up-bar, or weight bench. Making an outdoor gym is a great way to keep your villagers busy and healthy at the same time. They can also provide a great urban aesthetic, as many neighborhoods around the globe have similar outdoor gyms for residents.


Cozy Sitting Area

A cozy sitting area is one of the simpler ACNH ideas for small areas. As the name implies, cozy sitting areas are just little bits of your island dedicated to sitting! Using the wide variety of benches, sofas, and seats, you can create your own sitting area. You can even go one step further and include multiple seats and a table so that villagers can congregate and enjoy the cozy space.

These small space ideas are wonderful ways to fill in small spaces on your island. They can also be customized to fit your island aesthetic. If you want a cozy cottage-core sitting area, make use of the log items, trees, and the country fence. If you want to make a zen sitting area, make use of bamboo items, the zen fence, and bamboo trees.

The endless sea of cozy sitting area ideas makes it one of the simplest Animal Crossing small space ideas.


Mini Fishing Pond

Depending on your island’s aesthetic, a mini fishing pond could be a good small-space idea. The pond itself can be as big or small as you want, and you can decorate the surroundings with fishing-related items. What is great about creating ponds in the game is that they allow you to catch pond fish. Some fish like the goldfish can only be caught in ponds – if you didn’t know already!

You can decorate ponds with items received from the fishing tourney. The fresh cooler and the fish-drying rack are great items to include in pond builds. Mini pond builds can be very simple but still effective ways of using up a small amount of space. They also fit nicely in more natural-themed islands and can be enjoyed by villagers or players. Pond fishing itself is essential to complete the museum’s collection of fish, however, you can do so on mystery islands. But why venture too far away lands when you can do it right at home?


Zen Garden

When Animal Crossing: New Horizons first came out, probably one of the most popular builds was zen gardens. A zen garden, also known as a Japanese dry garden or rock garden, is a type of garden that includes rocks, water features, and sand. Obviously, these sorts of gardens hail from Japan and are popular sites in the country.

But in Animal Crossing, you can make your own! There are lots of furniture items that complement zen gardens well, including the many rock items and bamboo. In terms of the sand, you have two options. You can either use the default sand path found in the game, or you can download custom zen garden sand paths. If you are really creative and good at pixel art, you can even try to design your own!

Due to the plethora of items that can be used, zen gardens are great small space ideas. They work with a variety of island themes and can be made as big or small as you like.


Flower Gardens

In a similar vein, ordinary flower gardens are popular ACNH ideas for small areas. The game itself has many types of flowers that can come in different colors. Most of the colors however are only obtainable through hybrid breeding. I won’t get into that here, because it is a long topic itself, but in essence, some colors are much harder to obtain than others. Some, such as the blue rose, are extremely hard to get.

Creating a mini flower garden is a great way to display all of your hard work, using your hybrid flowers. However, you can just as well use ordinary flower colors and it will work just as well. Perhaps your island, or a particular area, has a specific color that represents it. You can then create complimentary little flower gardens in the small areas that are available. These are great small-area builds and can be enjoyed by players or villagers. You can often find villagers examining flowers!


Music Area

The final ACNH ideas for small areas on this list are dedicated music areas. Instruments can be purchased from Nooks Cranny or via Redd. Additionally, some such as the ocarina and ukelele can even be crafted by players. When you place an instrument in Animal Crossing, it is useable when tapping the A button when standing next to them. This will play a random note on the instrument. Tapping the A button again, and again, will continue to play random notes.

The great thing about placed instruments is that they are also accessible and useable by villagers. This makes for a wonderful little, small-area idea that is both enjoyed by players and villagers. You can even place speakers and play your favorite KK Slider songs. If you are lucky, you might even witness a villager singing in your dedicated music area!

As you can see from this large list of Animal Crossing small space ideas, there are loads of options. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some useful inspiration that you can use on your own island. The beauty of Animal Crossing is that like Lego you can take everything apart once you have assembled a build. So, don’t be afraid to try things out and if you don’t like them, just demolish them, and start over again!

If you have enjoyed this article, feel free to check out my other Animal Crossing articles over here!

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By Miles
Miles is a passionate writer, with a keen interest in writing engaging and intriguing content on all things Nintendo. Franchises such as Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda, and Mario have provided Miles with countless hours of fun, thus why he happily writes about them!
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