If you only have a small space in which to set up your model train layout, then you are not alone. There are a lot of people around in apartments and small houses with only limited space at their disposal. In this situation H0 scale (1:87) is a possibility, but the smaller N (1:160) or Z (1:220) scales may be more feasible.
When you use a smaller scale, or narrow gauge, you will need less space. A small scale railroad allows you to use the available space to achieve smoother curves and switches. Many model railroading enthusiasts who have small layouts use sectional tracks, because they find it easier than bending flexible track to a smooth but narrow curve.
When you plan a small model railroad layout, it is important that you know the limitations the small space imposes on you. Although the space you have available might limit your choice of scales, the major limitation is usually in the choice of themes you can model. In most cases main line themes will not fit.
Whereas, given that you only have a limited space available, industrial, branch line and tramway themes are possibly the best options to consider. If you must have a mainline theme, but do not have space for it, then you will probably have to scale it down.
If you do not want to compromise, then do not start by constructing a small model train layout. There are a number of differences you will need to accept or adapt yourself to: the curves may be too sharp, the angles of the switches may be too steep, and the sidings too short.
With a small layout everything is compressed to the maximum. However, when you think about it; although a small layout may not be your first choice, it is better than having no train set at all!
Can You Adapt A Small Or Large Scale Layout?
It is not just people with a limited space who build small model train layouts. Most model railroaders who want to build a large-scale layout, soon discover their large space is smaller than they thought.
Some people use elements from larger size layouts for small layouts. However, some large size layout themes cannot realistically be used for a small size variant.
On the other hand, using small layout designs for large size layouts usually works. This is because; you can simply expand the designs to achieve a more realistic layout with smoother curves and switches, longer tracks for more cars and create possibilities for more realistic scenery.
Enjoy your model railroading!