Decorating Smaller Spaces


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Homes in Britain are smaller than ever. A report from the BBC suggested that new-builds in the UK are the smallest in Western Europe, with so-called “shoebox houses” becoming the norm for many buyers[1]. But downgrading on a national scale isn’t such a bad thing. Small homes are cheaper to heat, and they can have a positive effect on people’s daily low-impact living, from needing to passively tidy up to avoid clutter, to being more frugal in general.

But that doesn’t change the fact that compact houses can feel problematically small, particularly for the needs of families. So, how do you combat this pint-sized problem? We have a few ideas for decorating smaller spaces, from maximising your light with strategic placement of your mirrors to making clever use of your storage.

Bright rooms feel bigger

It’s generally acknowledged that a lighter room will look bigger. We recently discussed how to make your room lighter and brighter, which not only creates a welcoming atmosphere and maximises the use of natural light, it makes your space seem more open. Get that bright effect with off-white or pastel tones for your walls and contrast it by painting your ceiling and skirting boards white. This makes a bold frame of the furthest points of your room, creating an illusion of added height and width.

Trick of the light

City-living is associated with shoebox homes, and apartments sandwiched into terrace blocks don’t always benefit from much natural light. Dimness can make a small living room feel closeted, so try standing a full-length mirror in a corner opposite your window. This optimises its reflective potential while secreting the legs or frame at the back of the mirror out of view.

Large mirrors disperse more light around your room, but a smaller wall mirror can have a big impact on the sense of space in a tiny living room. Hang a Grand Cream Mirror adjacent to your window as a dramatic decoration and a simple hack to improve light flow throughout your room, all without commanding any floor space at all.

Think small

This really depends on the dimensions of your living space, but small rooms generally feel cluttered when packed with big pieces of furniture. Sure, a plush corner couch will bring a certain bohemian feel to a compact living room, but something less obtrusive might work better. A compact chaise is simple and small, and can be combined with other two seater couches or armchairs to offer as much seating room as a larger sofa except with channels of space in-between. Consider swapping out that large coffee table for something more discrete: a nest of tables offers plenty of retractable surface area that can drastically save on floor space.

You can decorate a dining room using the same mentality. Consider sacrificing your high-backed dining chairs for a bench or two that can be discretely stowed beneath your dining table.

Think tall

Bulky furniture might not do your small space any favours, but tall furniture can create an illusion of height. Slender display units bring a sense of verticality to any room, and you can reduce the impact that such a large piece of furniture will have on your room by aiming for an open-fronted display or one with glass panels. A corner glass display unit is ideal for small spaces, as it will barely disrupt the flow of light through your room at all.

Another pro-tip for making your room appear taller is to hang your curtain pole as high as possible. You will need to invest in lengthier drapes, but that extra-long fabric will create an elegant sense of height.

Keep decoration sparse

If you pack a small space with picture frames and ornaments, it will probably start to feel cramped. Instead, opt for more sparse decoration. Build your decoration around a central point in the room, keeping it minimal to one or two larger ornaments as opposed to loads of smaller pieces. In the dining room for example, focus on a table centrepiece. In the living room, consider swapping out all those smaller pictures for a single large, eye-catching wall hanging.

In a small space, the smaller details matter more. Bring some character to your room by tweaking even the tiniest parts of your room, from the light bulbs to the lighting cords. Brightly-coloured fabric cords make a simple statement that can prop up any colour scheme without making a room appear stuffed. 

Smart storage

When picking out furniture for a small space, it’s best to look for storage capacity in everything. If you’re choosing a sofa, consider one with a small storage space underneath the cushions, or with raised ground clearance so you can tuck narrow items below. If you’re looking for a sideboard, make sure it can comfortably store your whole DVD collection without needing to stack a few up on top of the surface.

Wall-mounted shelves in a small dining room can work overtime, acting as a decorative focal point while also being used to store utensils or crockery – you can even attach hooks to the underside to make an intricate hanging out of serving spoons and cheese graters.

Hooks and rails can be attached to the back of any door too. Use them as extra coat hooks, or hang a few blankets in your living room so you can get cosy on-demand.

Harveys Furniture, making size matter.