How to decorate small spaces

Decorating Small Spaces -The Ultimate Guide

How to decorate small spaces

“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 (using google) 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?

Walls – What Are My Options?

Don’t be afraid to go bold or dark.

Let’s start with the infrastructure. White or light-colored walls are usually recommended for small rooms. While this is smart advice, 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 an airy, open appearance, but dark colors create its own magic.

Dark colors visually recede, making something that’s dark look further away than it really is. 

bold orange accent walls in small living room


If you want to add dark walls To Small Spaces, There are some things to consider first: 

  1. Go for an accent wall instead of painting the entire room. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  Worse yet, dark walls + dark furniture + scarce lighting?… Oof! Welcome to the Bat Cave.
decorate small rooms with bold paint colors to make it bigger

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.

best paint and wallpaper for

Sources: Brabbu | Tapestry Wallpaper  | Barn Board Grey Thin Plank Wallpaper | Fresh Home


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.

I talk more about the right scale and pattern repeats for wallpaper in This Guide

Furniture – The Biggest Head Scratcher.

Furniture is often one of the biggest challenges faced when decorating small spaces. Getting furniture right is vital in creating a comfortable and clutter-free home.

how to choose furniture for small spaces

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 don’t want to get rid of?

Then get a smaller scale accent chair and coffee table.

large sectional sofa in small living room
large sofa in small living room decorating small spaces
Image Credit: David Giles

Or just skip the coffee table & accent chair altogether. Take the image above 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 king-sized bed you want to keep?

Then skip the bedside tables and go for wall-mounted shelves instead.

decorating small bedrooms using floating shelves to save space

Source: White Floating Corner Shelves (Set of 2) See Price On Amazon

It’s all about balance.  The goal is finding a way to incorporate 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 essential items with pieces that are smaller in scale.

Related Posts:

This Furniture Style Is Perfect For Small Spaces!   

 This Is How You Choose Furniture For Small Bedrooms

Layout Tip: keep larger items on the perimeter of the room and sprinkle the smaller items around them.

If downsizing is temporary, you can always put your larger furniture pieces in storage and keep the ones you really want to include.

Once you’ve decided what stays and what goes, Make a list of the new, smaller-scaled items you’ll need (to keep things balanced, remember?).

First, 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.

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 bulky, cumbersome items
  • 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.
  • 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 for different purposes.
  • Movable furniture items are assets. Look for pieces that you can easily move from one room or area to another. Free-standing clothing racks, rolling storage, folding tables, wheeled kitchen carts etc. These pieces can be used for multiple purposes.
  • Furniture with storage. Look for furniture pieces that help you squeeze in some extra storage space at home. For example, get a bed that’s high enough to add storage underneath (although, it seems as though these are becoming extinct. I had to dig through google to find a few). Use bed risers to raise your existing bed. If you don’t like that look, try beds with drawers and headboards with built-in shelves.

For Sofa options, check out this post: These Leggy Sofas Are Perfect For Small Living Rooms!

I created this graphic as a visual reminder for what works best in small rooms.

PIN IT for later! and share it if you find it useful.

Furniture for small spaces

Sources: Gray Mid-Century Accent Chair from HSN ($219.95) | Acrylic Chairs (Set Of 2) On Amazon | Modern Acrylic Table On Amazon | Convertible, Adjustable Coffee and Dining Table On Amazon | Lift-Up Coffee Table With Hidden Storage On Amazon.


Use Mirrors To Create The Illusion Of More Space.

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.

decorate small spaces using mirrors

Pro Tip: Use Mirrors with Shelves and Hooks to maximize storage space. These types of mirrors are great for entryways, bathrooms and living rooms. I rounded up a list of beautiful options here.

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 double-duty function. Which is pure gold for small rooms! Use storage items that also double as decorative pieces (2-for-1!). Double duty items are golden in small spaces. Choose furniture that comes with extra storage. An ottoman with storage inside, a 2-tier coffee table, or a nightstand with drawers/shelves.  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. Tap into your creative side or browse Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. Follow Square Inch Home while you’re there! I frequently scour the platform for small space solutions!

small bathroom and small bedroom storage ideas

Source: 5 Closet Storage Hacks For Small Bedrooms | Small Bathroom Storage Hacks

Related Posts:

Gorgeous Kitchen Pegboard Storage Ideas To Steal

13 Handbag Storage Ideas That Will Save You A Ton Of Space!

23 Makeshift Closet Ideas For Small Closet-Less Bedrooms


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. Get clever and creative!

Source: Better Homes & Gardens   |  Refinery29  |  Indoor Garden Ideas For Small Apartments  |   7 Storage Solutions For Your Tiny Kitchen

Add Some Greenery 

Decorating small spaces with plants are 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 mom/dad’, 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:

decorate small spaces with plants snake plant

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.


spider plant for decorating small apartments

2. Spider Plant 

Extremely popular in office buildings.  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.




Pothos plant for decorating small paces

3. Pothos

Too much care can actually kill the Pothos plant. Yup. Too much direct sunlight will be the emise 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.
Image Source: Instructables

Related Post: These Indoor Garden Ideas Are Perfect For Small Spaces!

Don’t Ignore Those Corners

Try to maximize space wherever you can. Utilize all your nooks and crannies and find new ways to make corners functional.  Add a corner desk for writing/working, mount a few corner shelves for extra storage or add a large palm plant for decor.

How to decorate small spaces use corner shelves for storage

Source: Design Sponge | Bambo Corner Shelf On Amazon


Divide & Conquer – Separate Living Spaces In Studio Apartments.

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
  • Rugs

Sources: Image by Sara Lavoine Via Dulux | Mobel Pobel | Rattan Room Divider By Urban Outfitters | Pinterest6 Ways To Divide A Studio Apartment | Image By Fantastic Frank

Related Posts: 6 Ways To Divide A Studio Apartment

Avoid Visual Clutter
In Small Spaces

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 eye 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, a crowded bathroom counter or an unstyled shelf. Even certain types of furniture can create visual clutter (bulky, excessively large furniture in small rooms). Visual clutter bothers some people and not others, but whether you’re a minimalist of a maximalist, too much clutter can damaging for your well-being and 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.

stackable space saving food containers
Image: Space-Saving, Stackable Food Storage Containers On Amazon.  

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 house or hide these items. Use desk organizers for stationary, cord organizers for loose cords and trinket trays for smaller easy-to-get-lost items, like keys or jewelry.

All-in-One Remote Control Holder, Caddy, Organizer - White Leather

Image: All-in-One Remote Control Holder, Caddy, Organizer On Amazon

3. Use the Rule Of Threes  

The 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.

the ruke of three when decorating small spaces

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.

Related Post: Mover Over Minimalists. Maximalists Can Do Small Spaces Too!



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 to decorating your small space. Let your personality and your sense of style shine and Have Fun!


how to decorate small spaces the ultimate guide
how to decorate small spaces

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