Just thinking about decorating your house is probably pretty exciting, right? Whether you’re just moving in, or have finally decided to follow through on that redecorating job you’ve been meaning to get started on the past few years, doesn’t it feel like the possibilities are endless? Well, that is until you realize you’re working with a tiny space, and perhaps an even tinier budget.
Given the current downsizing trend and the fact that a bigger home just might not be in the cards for many new homebuyers, here’s a guide to decorating for small spaces. Whether it’s just one tiny room you’re unsure what to do with, or an entire apartment, with the help of these tips and tricks, you’ll feel like you’re living big in your small space.
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Before you start shopping for furniture or make a purchase of any kind, you need a plan.
Have you set a budget yet? It’s important to address the money aspect before you head to the store or start pinning dream rooms on Pinterest. Set a budget and stick to it—you’ll feel much more satisfied at the end of your project when your house is beautifully decorated, and you aren’t staring at a credit card bill that will take years to pay off.
Evaluate Your Space
Once a budget is set (and you’ve pinkie promised you’ll stick to it), it’s time to walk your house and evaluate your space. Measure each room you want to decorate and keep those numbers handy while you shop for furniture—the last thing you want is to find a piece you love, only to get it home and realize it’s way too big.
It’s wise at this point to at least get an idea of the purpose you want each room to serve. If you know you want your living room to be more of a social sitting area than a TV-watching space, you’ll want to make sure you choose seating that will fit your needs. It’s much easier to stick to your budget and shop with purpose when you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
“Lots of people have the idea that they need to buy super-small furniture in a small space. I like to do the opposite. I like to normal-size furnishings that just fit within the space, maybe even push the limits just a little bit (within reason). Placing small furniture in a small space can have a dollhouse effect, making everything look diminutive. It is amazing how a room can visually expand to accommodate well-chosen contents, and you will be so much more comfortable.” – Christoper Kennedy
If your walls are anything but a light, neutral color right now, you may want to consider changing that. While painting each room a different color sounds fun, it will actually make your house feel smaller.
Choose a great neutral color like beige, gray, or even white, and use it throughout your home to help unify the space. The darker the color is, the smaller it will make your rooms feel, so choose something light, and watch your space open up.
Consider using cinder blocks (or investing in a nice new frame) to raise your bed frame slightly to allow for more storage space under your bed to accommodate bins for out of season clothes, socks, paperwork, books, shoes—really anything that might be cluttering up your space. A storage headboard is an excellent way to add style and storage to your space (you can even go the DIY route).
Consider creating a modular storage system in your closet to help store and organize your clothes and personal items more efficiently. Sure, you can buy a fancy, customized closet organization system, but why not build one yourself?
Also, make sure your bedroom furniture fits properly in your room. A king sized bed is good in theory, but isn’t the best idea if it’s the only thing that will fit in your room. Even if you don’t have a lot of space to work with, you can use bright, textured pillows to decorate your space and make a statement.
Kids’ bedrooms are meant to be fun, brightly colored, and full of youthful decorations, but working with a small room can be challenging. Use posters, pictures, and décor that gives you the most bang for your buck, but doesn’t leave the room feeling cluttered.
Bunk beds are the best option to make extra space in the room. If you must keep toys in the room, make sure they’re stored away out of sight—open boxes and cluttered shelves will make any small room feel like it’s closing in on you.
Whether your office is located in your living room, jammed in the corner of your kitchen space, or a portion of one of your bedrooms, the most efficient use of space is a wall-mounted desk—think of a hideaway bed in desk form.
If you have a little more space, choose a small, streamlined desk—although something bigger could offer more workspace, it would likely just dwarf your room and look out of place. Wall-mounted shelves take up less space than bookshelves, making them a much better option.
You may not think you can efficiently decorate your bathroom, but there are a few tips to gain storage and make it feel bigger. To increase space and improve small space design, install a pedestal sink to make the space feel more open and skirt a decorative sheet around it to allow for extra hidden storage space. Install a curtain rod in your shower that curves out, giving the feel of a much larger tub or shower area.
Living Room/Family Room
Here are a few of our favorite tips on how to decorate a small living room or family room space:
- Use a behind-the-couch console table instead of a coffee table to save floor space.
- Add a rug to infuse style without taking up any extra space.
- Avoid bulky furniture to maintain an open feel in the room.
- Mount your TV to the wall to save space.
- Purchase a storage ottoman for extra seating and hidden storage for blankets, DVDs, remotes, etc.
If you entertain often, you know what a difference an open, organized, kitchen and eating area can make. Open shelving makes even the smallest kitchen appear more spacious and eliminates the need to constantly open and close cupboard doors. A magnetic strip is a great option to attach knives or spice containers to your wall to keep them easily accessible and free up space.
Choose a small table with a lot of character to keep your eating space stylish, yet functional. Surround your table with clear acrylic chairs to give the illusion of more space, or create a built-in banquette to eliminate the need for some seating. If possible, choose chairs for your living room that can double as extra seating for your table when you have guests over.
Decorate with Purpose
The best small space design living ideas are the ones that infuse style into the space while helping the room function more efficiently. Make sure that the decorative elements you add in your home do not leave it looking cluttered—there’s a fine line between a well-decorated home and one that looks tacky. With the help of properly placed statement pieces and brightly colored furniture, you won’t need much more to make your home look beautiful.
In addition to the above, some excellent small apartment decorating ideas include adding in a strategically placed mirror to make your space look bigger, and utilizing the natural light in your apartment. Let’s face it—apartment living isn’t always glamorous, especially when you’re renting and can’t really personalize the space.
Give the illusion of built-ins with the help of a few bookshelves, lay down rugs in every room, and hang curtains. All these design elements, when carefully chosen to match your own style, can open up your small apartment and make it feel like a home.
“Most of us have far too many possessions. I recently downsized slightly, to accommodate my busy work and travel schedule, and it made me really rethink everything I own. Do I love it? Does it enhance my life? Does it bring joy? If not — get rid of it! One of the tenets of modernism, to me, is surrounding ourselves with fewer things, but things that have utility and meaning.” – Christopher Kennedy
Tips to Remember
The most important thing to remember when considering all of these small space design living ideas is to keep things organized and ensure you have ample storage space. Decorating small rooms is difficult, but when done right, can take even the tiniest space and make it look bigger.
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