Small Space Decorating

I recently heard a young man who lives in a mere 290 square feet, say that if every thing had a home he could have a home. He was complaining about how his belongings had taken over his space and there was no room for him to live. If you are tired of storing your shoes in boxes that then act as a side table, read on for some suggestions on how to create more space in a small space.


First thing you need to do is use dual-purpose furniture. This might be an ottoman with a lift top that offers storage inside. The ottoman can act as a foot stool, as a coffee table or as additional seating when necessary, all the while holding blankets, magazines or seasonal clothing neatly inside.


An armoire with drawers can house the television and electronic components while the drawers below can hold tapes, DVDs, even clothing or linens. The beauty of the drawers is that no one can see what is being stored so the fact that your sheets and towels are in the family room makes no difference!

Benches with storage are an often overlooked piece of furniture that can be used in many different rooms. At the foot of the bed a bench can hold blankets, clothing, linens, shoes etc., etc., etc. In the dining room they offer additional seating while hiding away large trays, linens, or even over sized pots and pans that don’t fit in the cupboards. In the office the bench is a place for clients or visitors to sit but can also hide away messy items such as rolled up blueprints, magazines and books, office supplies; anything you do not want out in the open that takes up space and adds clutter.

Built-ins are a great space saving solution for any room but certainly for a small space. They offer customized storage and use up very little floor space. If possible, recess your built-ins which will take up even less floor space. A small shelving unit placed between the studs in the wall will create an area for small items and use virtually no space.

Few people are lucky enough to have enough cabinet space in the kitchen and/or bath. For some reason these rooms require a lot of “stuff” that take up a lot of room. Open shelving is a great solution for adding additional storage. Store all your “pretty” items on these shelves like dishes in the kitchen or attractive bottles in the bath. This leaves room in the cabinets for the “ugly” stuff to be hidden and the shelves on the wall leave floor space for seating or just walking around the room.

There are other things to keep in mind when decorating a small space:
• Avoid clutter. This can make the room seem small and messy no matter how often you tidy up.
• Choose the proper scale. If your furniture is large and overstuffed it is going to take up a great deal of visual space as well as physical space.
• Function first. In a small space you do not have room for furniture that is for decorative purposes only such as Grandma’s tiny rocker that is too fragile for any one to sit in. And while a large Grandfather clock is beautiful to look at, it can dwarf a small space.
• Remember that dark colors absorb light while light colors allow light to bounce off each other. Choose colors based on how you want the room to feel. Dark colors in a small space will make the room seem even smaller. That is OK if you are looking to create that mood but if you want the room to seem large and bright, choose lighter colors. This does not mean you have to have all white walls. A soft gray, a creamy yellow or a pale blue can all have the same effect as white and still add some color to your room.

While these decorating tips offer suggestions to those in a small space the same advice can be applied to any home. The goal for most of us is to create a functional yet warm and cozy home whether we have just 1000 sq feet or 5000 sq feet.

— Diane Haynie

Categories: Design Tips

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