Are you resigned (or delighted) to small space living? Chic but compact apartment, tiny flat or smaller-than-ideal house – whatever your home’s space challenges, these decorating tips and tricks will make a mighty big difference.
1. Less is more in a small space
‘Less is more’, the time-honoured interior design mantra when it comes to small spaces. Don’t make the mistake of cramming the same amount of furniture you would into a bigger space and just putting it closer together. Just because you can fit a three piece suite into your teeny living room doesn't mean you should.
Worried that it won't feel homely? Swap too much furniture for lots of texture and layering instead.
2. Downsize your furniture
The shape and design, as well as the size, of your furniture can also have a massive impact on making a space feel bigger. As a general rule, low slung furniture works best as it will make your room feel taller, plus it lets more light flow around the room. Also be sure to choose seating with show legs – if you can see all that space beneath your furniture, it will look less bulky, the room will seem bigger and light flow will be better.
3. Try a different layout
What is it with our obsession with pushing furniture right back against the walls? It’s understandable that we want to maximise the space but this can sometimes enhance rather than balance out that claustrophobic feel. So, give your furniture room to breathe by pulling it away from those walls a little – and if you can group seating around a coffee table in a snug group, you'll create a fabulous focal point, too.
4. Be sneaky with your storage
Okay so looking at all these photos of gorgeous, clutter free tiny spaces you are probably thinking, but where’s all the stuff? The secret is having plenty of hidden storage solutions – sneaky storage if you will. The key to living in a small space is forging storage spaces wherever possible, putting those empty spaces to good use. Space under the bed? Get some small bedroom storage solutions. Space in the kitchen cupboards? Add small kitchen storage ideas, such as shelf inserts. Space under the stairs? Check out our ingenious under stair storage solutions.
5. Or use (Instagram worthy) open shelving instead
We all seen the rise of the #shelfie. Keeping your old knick knacks out on display for all to see has never been trendier. Embrace the style and use it to your advantage –ladder style shelving, floating shelves or wall mounted magazine racks will provide extra storage and display space with a minimal footprint.
You can create a similar look with the Algot shelving unit from Ikea, which comes in different depths and widths so you can choose a size to suit your space. Use our guide to #shelfies: 15 decorative shelves to inspire Instagram likes for more ideas.
6. Opt for oversized artwork
We will never say a word against the gallery wall, but in small spaces they can be overwhelming and end up making a room feel more cramped. Instead, choose one bold, large-scale print, that will make a statement but won’t clutter up the wall.
7. Fill your space with mirrors and reflective accessories
It’s the oldest trick in the book, we know, but it works. Placing a large mirror on the adjacent wall to your biggest window will reflect the most light, but if your windows are small or you don’t want to rely on natural light, try placing a tall mirror behind furniture or lighting to create the visual trick of another room opening up beyond.
8. Be clever with your window dressings
Banishing big, heavy, light-sucking curtains is a must if you want your rooms to look bigger, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have curtains at all. IF you are going to have them, start by swapping in floor-to-ceiling, light-coloured ones (wahey, suddenly your room – and window – looks taller). Then, ensure you hang them from a pole that’s long enough so that they can be pulled right back past the window frame, making your window will feel wider, too. Keep windowsills clear too – the more light that can flow into a room, the bigger it will feel – a must if you're designing a north-facing room.
9. Don’t forget the flooring
We all know that white walls reflect light and make a space feel larger blah blah blah, but so many of us don’t make use of the flooring to enhance a space. Opting for a finish in a light colour is the most obvious way to go, whether you strip and paint floorboards white, choose a lime-washed look for engineered wood boards, laminate or vinyl, or simply lay down a large white or cream rug.
10. Go for a one-colour scheme
Received wisdom has it that painting walls white makes small rooms look bigger, right? Right – but if you’d love your home to be colourful and spacious-looking, you’ll need a clever trick or two up your sleeve.
Try choosing a colour you love for the walls, match it with furniture and pick accessories in close tones of the same shade. That way, you’ll get colour and a spacious feel, plus you don’t need to compromise on your furniture’s size because even larger pieces will blend into the background.
11. Draw the eye upwards
There are all sorts of ways of doing this: vertical stripes on a wall, painting a ceiling to draw attention to it, long curtains that reach to the floor... all serve to exaggerate a room's proportions height-wise. Or, combine them to create a bigger, bolder impact. Find more sunny rooms like this in our yellow room ideas gallery.
Want more advice on working with small spaces?
- 17 storage ideas for small bedrooms
- The best sofas for small living rooms
- 15 design ideas for small hallways
Small Spaces Month:
This article is part of Small Spaces Month, brought to you in association with the new Real Homes Travel Edition. A compact version of our hugely respected monthly magazine, Real Homes Travel Edition brings you all the same great content as the full-sized edition, but in an even more bag-friendly format that’s perfect for inner city commutes and French riviera holidays. Get yours now at WHSmith, Easons and selected newsagents.