I live in a smaller house and decorating it has given me both lots of joy and also moments where I really had to scratch my head in terms of furniture placing. Who else can relate? Lots of space and a bigger house sounds fantastic, but realistically speaking many of us live in a smaller footprint home. We want to maximize our space without compromising design and comfort, but how do we decorate a small space to make it feel spacious and stylish all at the same time?
Well, follow along and I will guide you through some tips and tricks on how to make it happen. I’ll also start right away with letting you in on a true advantage of living small - Your footprint is smaller, so clearly you don’t need as many pieces of furniture- meaning you can select those great quality items for your home without breaking the bank.
Storage is key. Without proper storage a small space can end up looking clustered in no time. There simply isn’t enough space to absorb everything you are not tucking away. My husband and I are fortunate to live in an older house where every unused space was turned into a pantry, small closet or even built in shelvings and drawers. This helps a lot! We have also made sure that many of our furniture are multi-purpose and double function as storage as well. The bed in our primary bedroom, as well as in our guest bedroom, has built in drawers underneath where we store bedding, out-of-season-clothing etc. Our guest bed is also the brilliant Hemnes daybed from IKEA that converts from a twin/daybed to a king size. We have the capacity to host couples for the night, but it doesn’t take up the space of a big bed on a day-to-day basis. A coffee table with tiers underneath the table top is also a great way to incorporate just a little bit of extra storage. If you are planing on storing several smaller items here, consider adding a small basket for these items. It looks much cleaner. They are also great for storage in a bookcase. Another great way of building in storage and seating is having custom built window seating. A built-in bench in the same height as your window sills with a comfortable pad/mattress and drawers below make your home feel bespoke while adding storage and a great spot to sit and watch the world go by.
It is important to allow a room to breath. Invest in statement pieces and let these steal the show, but make sure to keep negative space as this will help the room feel spacious. Meaning, less is more. Choose fewer and larger than you would think for a small space furniture, but make sure that there is still space in between these pieces. They will help anchor the room, while more and smaller furniture will make it look cluttered instead. Another great idea to breath life into a room is by opening up walls. Our living room is basically a few rooms connected and in one of the connecting walls there is a window cut out. This makes our living room more open and connected while still maintaining a sense of separate space on the other side. You are together, but apart.
What type of furniture should you then choose for a small space? There are some key points to keep in mind when shopping for new furniture for your home. Choose furniture on legs to allow for air flow and a visually lighter appearance. Sofas and armchairs with a lower back also adds to a room feeling spacious as you’ll have a clear sight across the room instead of the back-rest cutting it off. Even though your sofa and armchairs might be lower in height, it’s important to decorate in a range of heights to create a three dimensional feeling. Choose furniture with different height and maximize your vertical space with floor to ceiling open shelving or custom built-ins. A custom built-in with doors at the bottom and shelves above is a perfect way to display your favourite books and artefacts as well as hiding away less pleasant to the eye items behind closed doors. I also recommend entertaining the idea of using thoughtfully placed mirrors in your decor. They can contribute to a space feeling bigger by creating a three dimensional effect and some depth in your room.
A tonal home will make your space feel cohesive and cohesive equals spaciousness, or the appearance of it at least. Which is what we are going for here. Walls in lighter colours contribute to a room feeling larger, so opt for whites, light greys, beiges, or even a light blue. To create visual interest, add pops of colour through your wall art, cushions, throws and artefacts. These have a smaller impact on the overall visual appearance, allowing you to play more with colour combo’s etc.
Work with layering the lighting. Instead of having your ceiling light be your main light source, sprinkle it around the room and make sure to add lighting in different heights. A table lamp on a side table, a floor lamp in your reading nook and a portable light in your bookcase all contribute to spotlighting your different vignettes, or areas, in the room while simultaneously adding a warm vibe to your home.
Speaking of adding warmth to your home. Any home, be it small or big, benefit from layering textiles to create a relaxing and inviting space. Add cushions, throws and rugs to create a room you’d want to spend time in and relax in. Another great hack is to use curtains instead of doors for a closet in a small room. This softens the edges and creates the illusion of the space somewhat continuing behind the curtains (which it obviously does) compared to a solid wall of doors.
Finally, stay tidy. A small space looks messy quicker, so making sure each item has its designated spot is vital to small space living. And another bonus with small space living? You will spend less time cleaning than in a big house. Time you can spend on enjoying your space instead.