The challenge of decorating a small home can feel a lot like Tetris—a game with cascading blocks of all shapes being slotted into spaces. The challenge is to fit all your furniture, decorations, and possessions into each room as gracefully as possible without creating a cramped feeling. The space must reflect your individual style and personality but also have common threads flowing through it, so that it does not appear chaotic or, worse, cluttered. Fortunately, it is quite possible to decorate and furnish a small space with these factors in mind and to produce a livable space that is magazine-worthy.
Be Mindful of Furniture Size
If you can get away with it, a few larger furniture pieces can be a bold way to take possession of a small space. If more seating than that is needed, do not be hesitant to crowd furniture together, trading elbow room for a cozy conversation corner. Remember that not all dining tables need to be large, for instance. Small round tables are not confined to breakfast nooks but can be the main eating center. Or consider built-in seating around the table, with helpful storage underneath, rather than solely using chairs. Also, for a small kitchen or laundry space, update your electronics to items with a smaller footprint. Don’t forget to maximize your corner spaces with furniture specifically designed to fit in every nook and cranny.
Get a Convertible
First, do not feel chained to furniture that takes up a footprint on the floor. That minimizes walking space and can make the room feel too cluttered. Consider convertible tables and desks, or more fixed wall-mounted nightstands and shelves. Convertible furniture hangs on the wall and folds up or down into a neat rectangle there when not in use. Another object to take to the walls is the television. An entertainment center can be domineering in tight quarters. A wall-mounted television, over a mantel or floating series of shelves to hold all the accessories and keep movies contained, is much less intrusive.
Get Bold with Colors
A vibrant hue in a darker shade can transform a boring white cube into a jewel box. The right bold colors can transform a bland space into an intimate setting, create a cozy feeling, or an energized one, depending on the desired feel. Do limit yourself in your color palette, however; whether dramatic and dark or airy and light, you want a space to feel unified and uncluttered. Just remember to accent well, tie things together, and focus on sufficient lighting in otherwise dark rooms.
Many amateur decorators use only a small swath of wall space. Using a wall from just visible height behind furniture all the way to an inch or so below the ceiling will draw the eye upward. It creates a bit of an optical illusion, creating more space up-and-down than there is available from length and width. Using prints or paintings as well as other wall ornaments in various themes is not just a way to display personality, but a means for opening up the full potential of a space as well.
Raise Window Dressings
Along the same lines as decorating the walls fully, consider raising the curtain rod to just below ceiling height. This, too, creates the illusion of more vertical space. Often smaller apartments have smaller windows, but rather like a cat arching its back to appear bigger, lifting up the window treatments gives an illusion of larger room.
Get Creative With Out of Season Storage
Old trunks, suitcases, and drawers can be stacked, screwed together, and refinished to create dramatic and unique storage spaces for out of season wear and tools. These can be great finds at garage sales, particularly if you have a love of shopping at multi-family yard sales but have limited space to fill with your trophies. Combine touches of personality with large amounts of practicality for a decorating double win.
Reflect on Your Space
Mirrors are one of the best friends of the compact home. Reflecting light, they truly open up spaces and can make a room seem twice as large. Intersperse them with other hangings to further utilize the brightness of lamps, or to truly make lighting magical, place them strategically in a cozy dining nook where candlelight might be put into play. Also, when windows flank a door or are nestled between two windows, the eye reads them as further architectural details so that they blend in even while helping a space to stand out.
Rethink the Accent Wall
An accent wall is fine for larger spaces, but for smaller spaces, you want to tie them together using all the same color. Instead, choose a wall to focus your favorite prints or photographs on. Create an eye-catcher that is more three-dimensional with paintings and memorabilia. Use ledge displays to show off bursts of blossom amid the paintings for an extra and alive touch.
Utilize Every Nook
If you remodel be sure to maximize small spaces. Is there a space between closets? Consider a vanity table or a tidy desk for a study area. An empty corner tucked in just beside the fridge? Consider tucking in a rotating pantry or sliding in some cleaning storage. This is really where each space must be individually analyzed and those moments of opportunity spotted. You do not want an area to go to waste simply because the eye is used to floating past it like white noise to the ear.
Light up Your Life
Small spaces can appear dark. Smaller rooms and apartments tend to likewise have tiny windows. Be sure to add the right amount of light; try to keep lighting fixtures on the ceiling or walls, rather than placing them on the floor (as in the case of a floor lamp) or on top of a side table.
Small homes can seem like an impossible challenge when it comes to decorating, but the small space might actually be a blessing in disguise. A small home makes you re-evaluate your space and your style, assess what is necessary and what can be pared away, and what unique items can be paired together to show off the flare of your personality. Seize the opportunity and create a space that is one that you truly own.