“Decorating small spaces” is a pretty popular search term on google. With the growing popularity of tiny homes, micro-apartments, and minimalism, it seems like everyone’s looking for guidance on how to decorate their small living spaces. Since its such a popular inquiry, I figured I’d get in on the action.
So I did a little research and curated some of the most asked-about topics and solutions regarding small space decor. Then compiled everything I’ve found into one post (this post). I’ve also included lots of example images and illustrations for visual learners like myself.
So, If you want to learn how to decorate your small home, then grab a cup of coffee or tea, get comfortable and let’s get into it!
How To Decorate Small Spaces?
Don’t be afraid to go bold or dark.
While light-colored walls are usually recommended for small rooms, it’s okay to deviate from the guidelines a little. Bold, contrasting colors and even dark colors work really well in small rooms. Yes, white or light-colored walls do well to create a bright, airy and open space. But bold & darker colors can create their own magic too.
Dark color can make the walls recede, giving the illusion that they are further back than it really is.
“Dark colors can actually make a small space seem larger—it just all depends on how you use them.” –Apartment Therapy
–Go for an accent wall. Bold, lighter colors like the orange above on all four walls are okay if you’re going for a dramatic look. But if you’re using black, dark gray or dark brown in a small room, then you might want to stick just one or two walls for contrasts.
–Make sure there are enough light sources in the room (both natural sunlight and artificial lighting). Dark walls with scarce lighting can make the room seem a lot smaller than it really is.
If you only have one window, be sure to add extra artificial lighting throughout the room and don’t forget to illuminate those dark corners.
–Keep furnishings light for balance. Keep furnishings light and neutral. Dark walls paired with dark furniture in a small room can close down the space. Try to imagine dark walls + dark furniture + scarce lighting?… Yikes! Welcome to the Bat Cave…
Source: Desire To Inspire
Create Depth & Height With Stripes
Striped Walls have the power to visually expand any room, adding depth and height to the space. Create an optical illusion with vertical and horizontal stripes to make your room feel larger.
It doesn’t have to be literal stripes, but anything that creates long vertical or horizontal lines will do the trick.
Create Optical Illusion With Wallpaper
With wallpaper, there’s something for every style and every budget.
Scenic & Landscape wallpaper is powerful stuff. large Scenic or landscape wallpaper/murals create the illusion of more space by pulling the eye outward. Thereby creating depth. See the second image below.
Large Patterns work best to open up the room and prevent visual clutter and create interest.
Smaller patterns can work too but, just like dark paint, they work better on an accent wall. Small repeats in a pattern can seem quite busy in smaller rooms and can create visual clutter. But adding it to one wall will create beautiful contrasts without overwhelming the room.
Related Post: Best Wallpaper Patterns For Small Spaces
Furniture is often one of the biggest challenges faced when decorating small spaces. Getting furniture right is essential for creating a comfortable and clutter-free home.
If you’re downsizing from a bigger apartment, my guess is that you may (or may not) have furniture that’s larger in scale. If you do, here’s some good news:
You don’t have to get rid of ALL your large furniture just because you live in a smaller space. You do, however, need to be strategic about its placement.
Here’s what I mean,
Have a large sofa you want to keep? Then get a smaller scale coffee table and accent chair. It’s that simple!
If every piece of furniture is large it certainly WILL overwhelm the room. But one or two large pieces won’t. One or two large statements pieces are okay, as long as the surrounding furniture is smaller in scale. It’s all about BALANCE!
You can even skip the coffee table & accent chair altogether. Take the image below for instance. Even though the sofa is visually heavy, the room still feels spacious. Bringing more furniture into this space will just make the room feel cluttered. Plus, c’mon, this chunky sofa is so beautiful it deserves to be the star of the room.
The same goes for other large pieces.
Got a large queen or queen-sized bed you don’t want to get rid of?
Then skip the bedside tables and go for wall-mounted shelves instead.
Source: White Floating Corner Shelves (Set of 2) See Price On Amazon
The goal is to find a way to incorporate some of the things you already have and love without overcrowding the room. Select your large existing furniture pieces wisely. Realistically, you can’t include all of them and will need to replace a few essential furniture with pieces that are smaller in scale.
Layout Tip: keep larger furniture on the perimeter of the room.
Once you’ve decided what pieces you want to keep, make a list of the new, smaller-scaled items you’ll need (to keep things balanced, remember?).
Also, make sure you know your room’s measurements ahead of time. This is important in ensuring that everything fits! Measure your large pieces and experiment with different layouts before placing them. See more on How To Arrange Furniture In A Small Living Room.
Things To Consider When Buying Furniture For Small Spaces:
Choose visually lightweight furniture. You don’t have to settle for ‘dollhouse’ furniture, but visual weight is important for creating extra visual space. Choose cushioned furniture that is trim & compact. Avoid excessively bulky, cumbersome pieces.
Tall furniture with long legs. Slim, ‘leggy’ chairs and sofas don’t obstruct views of the floor, so the space feels more open and airy. Furniture with long legs helps to minimize visual clutter. These Leggy Sofas are perfect for small spaces!
Acrylic Furniture is often a popular choice. They don’t obstruct the eyes and look like they’re barely there. Glass coffee tables work well too. Their see-through feature is a great way to add drama to a room without overloading it.
Look for multipurpose/transforming pieces. Folding or transforming furniture offers multipurpose and space-saving functionality. Keep an eye out for pieces that can be used in different ways. See these Space-Saving Tables for ideas!
Movable furniture items are assets. Look for pieces that can be easily moved from one room or area to another. Free-standing clothing racks, lightweight shelves, folding tables, wheeled kitchen carts, etc. These pieces can be used for multiple purposes in any room.
Furniture with storage. Furniture pieces that help you squeeze in some extra storage space are great investment pieces. Beds with drawers underneath or a lift-up coffee table with storage will work harder for you in the long run.
Here’s a visual reminder of what works best in small rooms.
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Mirrors help to visually expand a room by reflecting both natural and artificial light and by creating the illusion of more square footage.
Large circle mirrors are trending these days, not only because they’re beautiful but also because the bounce so much light around the room creating a bright and airy feel to any space.
Where to add mirrors to create more space?
- Opposite or near windows to bring in more natural light
- At the end of a long hallway
- Over sofa or bed
- Dining rooms
- Large leaning floor mirrors are great for living rooms and bedrooms.
Get Creative With Storage
Sneak some in every chance you get. Decorating small spaces with pretty storage offers a cool double-duty function. Use storage items that also double as decorative pieces (2-for-1!). Multipurpose items are like gold for small spaces.
Choosing furniture that comes with extra storage is also a smart strategy. An ottoman with storage inside, a 2-tier coffee table, or a nightstand with drawers/shelves are great investment pieces.
Adorn those under-utilized corners with floating shelves or a corner desk. Use pretty baskets that can hang from or be mounted on walls. The options are endless.
Utilize Vertical Space
Always look for opportunities to draw the eye upward. Utilizing wall space will do just that. Walls, doors, the sides of your fridge and kitchen cabinets all offer loads of extra storage space. Use them at all costs.
Add shelving, wall-mounted tables, artwork, storage, lighting, etc. Install wall lights instead of using floor lamps; create a spice wall for your kitchen to save space in your cabinets, add a hanging jewelry organizer or a wall-mounted shoe rack to your bedroom.
Don’t Ignore Those Corners
Try to maximize storage space wherever you can. Utilize those empty, awkward nooks and crannies and find new ways to make corners more functional. Add a corner desk for writing/working, mount a few corner shelves for extra storage or add a large palm plant for decor.
Divide And Conquer
Open floor plans are great. In fact, they’re my favorite layout for apartments. But sometimes it can feel like you’re living in a furniture showroom. Separating living spaces provides an opportunity to create different ‘rooms’.
Carving out a bedroom, living room or dining area in a one-room apartment is easy. The trick is to create separation without disrupting the overall flow throughout the apartment.
Some ways to create separation in an open floorplan:
- Paint or wallpaper – Color-zoning is a really cool and effective way of separating spaces without using physical barriers. It creates visual separation seamlessly throughout the room without the use of physical barriers.
- Curtains – Sheer curtains work great since they block the eye from moving through the room
- Room Dividers – ‘See-through’ or hollow room dividers work great.
- Glass or Plexiglass
Avoid Visual Clutter
Visual clutter is insidious. You don’t always see it right away. It builds slowly until suddenly it becomes a glaring mess.
Visual clutter happens when our eyes cannot rest. When it’s constantly scanning, moving and taking in everything in our surroundings. For some people, this visual clutter can cause an intense sense of inward chaos and disharmony because of the eye and mind never being able to rest.
Source: Productive & Pretty
Visual clutter comes in all forms, whether it’s a chaotic spice cabinet, too many pictures, an unstyled shelf. Even certain types of furniture can create visual clutter (bulky, excessively large furniture in small rooms).
Visual clutter may be a problem for some but not others. Whether you’re a minimalist of a maximalist, too much clutter can affect your ability to relax in your own home.
So how to eliminate visual clutter for a more harmonious home?
1. Use Matching Storage Items For A More Cohesive Look
To combat visuall clutter you have to create a unified and harmonious look throughout the space. And that often means getting all matchy-matchy with storage.
For kitchens, use matching or complementary storage canisters, containers, baskets, etc to create a cohesive, organized look. This is particularly important if you have open cupboards or an open pantry cabinet. This will ensure harmony and consistency throughout the space. Counters should house only the items you use daily. Store everything else in drawers, and cabinets.
Do the same for bathroom counters. Use toiletry sets for your soap, toothpaste and other toiletries, for a uniform, stylish look.
2. A place for everything and everything in its place.
Find a specific place for items that frequently cause clutter in your home. Remotes, stationary, dangling cords, loose change, and other trinkets. Use storage to hide these items.
Use desk organizers, Remote control storage caddies, cord organizers for loose cords and trinket trays for smaller easy-to-get-lost items, like keys or jewelry.
3. Use the Rule Of Threes
rule guideline of threes in interior design is based on the idea that an odd number of items are more appealing, look more natural and less forced than an even-numbered grouping. Not to mention it keeps clutter at bay.
Use the rule of threes to display decorative collections and accessories. Keep this tip in mind when styling your coffee table, shelves or anywhere you plan to add accessories.
Don’t take this idea too literally though. Follow your design instincts and personal style. It’s your home and you can do whatever makes you happy. Use your discretion and be guided by the way the room makes you feel (overwhelmed or relaxed) when you’re in it.
Lighting is important for small spaces. Keep corners and inner rooms well lit to avoid the cave effect. Use wall-mounted or hanging lights wherever you can to save floor space.
Curtains hung close to the ceiling will create extra height in the room.
Be Careful With Patterns. Too many conflicting patterns can create clutter and disorganization in small rooms.
The rule of three is great for mediating multiple patterns. Vary the scale of patterns “One large, one medium, and one small; or one large and two different mediums for instance”. –The Spruce
Use this tip when accessorizing with throw pillows, rugs, drapes, etc. Three complimentary patterns will keep your space clutter-free. On the other hand, If you’re a maximalist at heart then you can ignore this tip altogether.
Add Some Greenery
Decorating small spaces with plants is a great way to bring life to a room. Nothing brightens up a room more than living things.
Plants are beautiful decor accessories that detoxify the air around us and even help us sleep better at night. So why wouldn’t you want to include them in your home?
If you’re worried about being a bad, neglectful ‘plant parent’, don’t. There are a lot of low maintenance, no-brainer plants on the market. Some of them don’t even need much sunlight to stay alive.
Incorporate them throughout your home to help break-up all the concrete and harsh lines.
I found some beautiful low-maintenance, ‘hard-to-kill’ plants for you to try:
1. Snake Plant
This large succulent is incredibly tolerant of neglect. A big plus for new ‘plant parents’. The snake plant is also known as “mother In Law’s Tongue” (ouch!) offers guilt-free greenery with all the terrific air-purifying benefits plants offer.
This plant is almost impossible to kill. It can go for weeks without watering and still look fresh. It’s the perfect starter plant for newbies.
2. Spider Plant
Extremely popular in ildings. Maybe because everyone is too busy to water them. The spider plant is low maintenance, easy to grow and looks especially pretty in hanging planters.
Too much care can actually kill the Pothos plant. Yup. Too much direct sunlight will be the demise of this vine plant. The Pothos will fair just fine in bright indirect light and even low light. So you don’t have to find space for it near your windows. Pothos is a depolluting plant and is effective against carbon monoxide.
Related Post: These Indoor Garden Ideas Are Perfect For Small Spaces!
Whew! If you made it to the end Congratulations! You’re ready to decorate. Decorating small spaces can seem daunting at first. Especially when you’re downsizing from a much larger home. But once you learn the tricks and strategic decor moves, it’s smooth sailing to creating a space you love. Remember, decorating is supposed to be fun. So don’t let yourself get bogged down with all the design ‘rules’ and the shoulds and should not’s. Use your personal style, your intuition, and your measurements as a guide. Let your personality and your sense of style shine and Just Have Fun!
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