Why Not . . . Decorate Small Spaces?
Wednesday April 24, 2013

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Just imagine, less time spent cleaning, less furniture to buy and more money to buy quality decor that you love. These are just three of the many benefits that accompany living in a small home.

Whether you are living in a studio, one bedroom flat or a cozy cottage, the challenge can often be what items to choose to ensure that the space feels as welcoming, yet uncluttered as possible.

Many of you shared your personal stories and experiences with living in small homes when this post went live earlier this year. Through detailed experiences and pleasant surprises upon realizing that living in a smaller home is not only doable, but very enjoyable, I wanted to accompany that post with ideas on how to decorate in such a way as to create a sanctuary that creates a feeling of tranquility, not suffocation.

Having furnished a studio in Portland’s Pearl District recently (a few pictures are below) and having lived in tiny rentals in my early twenties, I’d like to share what I’ve learned along the way.

Show Some Leg

Choose a sofa, chairs and dining tables in which their legs are visible. Eliminate the dust ruffles and boxy solid look as it weighs the furniture down and makes it appear heavier as well as larger. By revealing simple wooden, acrylic or metal legs, it allows the eye to see through the furniture giving the illusion of more space.

Clear = Invisible = More Space

One of the best ideas for tables in a small space is to choose items that are made of acrylic or clear glass. I was thrilled with my C-shape acrylic side table from CB2 as it can hold a cup of tea, my laptop or the daily newspapers, but all the while it appears as though it isn’t actually there. Being able to see through these pieces of furniture opens up the space and creates less clutter, while also providing the necessary function you need.

Decorate Up

While you may not have as much square footage on the ground, don’t forget about the walls. Use floating shelves for pictures or place tall, a narrow book shelf in a quiet corner that doesn’t take up as much floor space, but brings the eye up and keeps your home organized.

Multi-Use Pieces

Anytime you can purchase a item you love that can serve two purposes, you automatically save space. An ottoman with internal storage or a headboard that serves as a room divider in a small studio or a standing tray table that serves as a table in your entry during the week and a bar on the weekends for dinner parties (I love this one from West Elm) are both great ideas to look into.

Rely on Solid, Light Colors, Stay Away from Prints

When living in a small space, the less differing colors and busy prints the more open and spacious a home will feel. My approach is always to choose colors for the walls and major furniture pieces that are solid and neutral. The smaller details, such as throw pillows, table and wall decor, can then be bright, full of prints and playful (and easily changed according to mood and season).

Welcome the Light

If you have a choice, always choose a studio or home with as much light and as many windows as possible as it again opens up the space making it appear larger than it actually is. Ideally two walls with windows would be a dream (especially in an apartment/condo building as it would mean you have a corner unit), but even one wall with floor to ceiling windows will do immense wonders for your mood.

More Mirrors

It’s not about vanity when you live in a small space. It’s about necessity. Mirrors are a small home dweller’s best friend. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s about creating the illusion of more space, and mirrors instantly create more square footage where none actually exists. Whether you choose to arrange three or four small mirrors on the wall as decoration, or place a full-length mirror on the floor adhering to a contemporary decor scheme, stop into your local thrift shops for steals on mirrors that will instantly enlarge your living space.

Big & Less, Rather than Smaller & More

While proportions should always be considered, having one impressive framed print or piece of art, or even a large wall mirror rather than many small items placed on a wall creates a grand tone. A tone that defines the small spaces and presents the idea of living large. One of the other benefits of choosing one large piece as opposed to many small pieces, fewer decisions.

Hanging Closet Organization

Even though I have a passion for fashion, hauling in a large dresser isn’t always a possibility when living in small spaces. The best thing to do is stop into your local Storables or Container Store and pick up hanging organizers. Available in all shapes, colors and styles (sweaters, shoes, jeans, etc), choose enough for the items that would normally be folded and placed in drawers and hang them in your closet to create tidy organization and save an ample amount of space.

Rely on Rugs

~Shop for this rug here from Flor~

Living in a studio or small apartment often requires two rooms to become one. Choose to decorate with area rugs to create designated spaces – living area, kitchen, bedroom, office, etc. The simple act of training the eye and the mind as to where one room ends and the other begins reveals to the homeowner that excess space isn’t always necessary. (On a budget and looking for a rug? I have had very good luck shopping at Overstock.com.)

As I’ve discovered with most things in life, quantity is never a substitute for quality. So long as the space you live in carefully and tastefully decorated and cared for creating a space that becomes your sanctuary the moment you cross the threshold, it doesn’t matter how large it is.

~Looking for more specific ideas as well as furniture and decor that correlates with the above suggestions? Visit my Houzz Ideabooks – here and here.


~Why Not . . . Live in a Smaller Home?

~Why Less is More

~Live Below Your Means

Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

One thought on “Why Not . . . Decorate Small Spaces?

  1. A great post – have you read Abigail Ahern’s blog ? she is an English decorator and I think you would be interested in what she has to say about paint colours and decor of small places – a completely different way of looking at things but so interesting and it works……

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