Houses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – just like people! Even if you don’t have the house of your dreams, you can make the most of what you have. If your house has “good bones”, then changing the paint or wallpaper, adding some nice rugs and cushions, hanging some art, and most importantly, creating happy places to spend time with your family – are key. Nowadays, many people have open plan homes – we are a bit different as our 1948 home does not have this kind of space. However, even with open space living, most of us have a small room in our homes. These can be zones within your open plan home, that you want to keep cozy and warm, within a larger space. Small can be very practical, but if you are not careful, small spaces can also fill up quickly and become cramped and cluttered. The most important thing is not the size of your home, but how you feel in it, and the function of the spaces for your lifestyle. As you know I am not a big believer in rules when it comes to your home, but there are tips and tricks that can help create a harmonious visual space, and enhance the function of the room.
Here are some tips on how to style a small living room
1) Choose the shape of your furniture well
The shape of your furniture is important because you want to reduce the footprint and the extension of furniture into the space you need to live in. For example select chairs and sofas with no arms, or low arms, as they work best in small spaces. Round tables work well in small dining rooms. Don’t select furniture which juts out into the walkways, stay more slimline.
2) Blend your furniture into the flooring
Use a similar choice of colours for flooring and furniture, rather than creating a more separated look with contrasting colours. Make sure the sofa connects with the flooring to draw the eye from the floor, upwards. Vertical stripes can also work well, on walls, textiles and furniture.
3) Create a visual clutter free space
Regularly tidy and de-clutter, especially if you are like me and are a hunter and gatherer. Pick one room and then give it a good clean out. Have baskets and toy boxes you can throw all the kids toys into at the end of each day. Keep open shelving to a minimum. I love an open shelf and have a few, but in a small space too many open shelves with things tumbling off them just create a sense of being overwhelmed and cramped. Keep these to a minimum and have only a select number of items on display, grouped in ways that are pleasing to you. If you have open shelves, have a look today to see if you can reduce the amount of items on display. Maybe take away 1 or 2 pieces and give it all a good dust.
4) Colour linkage and pops of colour
Linking colours in a space across different pieces of furniture make things seem larger. For example if you have a blue vase on the coffee table, use a blue cushion behind it on the sofa. This extends the eye and creates a sense of space and depth, because we notice the similar colour pops first. Bring the focus away from the wall, so you notice the constraints of the room less, by using your pops of colour at the forefront of furniture.
5) Keep furniture off the walls
You would think that in a small space you want everything aginst the walls to keep as much free space as possible – but this just draws your eyes to the dimensions of the room. Try to create the idea there is more space and draw the eye away from the walls by keeping your furniture slightly off the walls, and place some of the seating at angles. Never have what I call a “train station” arrangement for your seating (Mr Recycled laughs at me when I say this, but it is a thing!). By this I mean the chairs and sofa all lined up in a row. You want to create a space where connecting people is easy through placement of furniture.
6) Monochromatic or complementary palettes
Colour palettes which stay within a particular hue or are complementary, work well. If you are going for a monochromatic palette, don’t use the exact same colour, which can be boring. Rather, use a range of reds for example. Adding texture and shape for visual interest works well too. For example you may choose a range of greys, blues or reds as your colour palette, with 3 or 4 different hues of these colours and add some textured cushions with fringes, pom poms or macrame, to add more visual interest. Or use patterns with the same colour ranges for a bit more punch.
7) Make use of verticals
Using the vertical space of your walls is the quickest way to make a room bigger. Build shelving that is multi purpose, have floor to ceiling book shelves which create a sense of grandness. Look at each room and where you might add vertical storage. Having your television mounted to the wall in a small space just makes sense. Get creative and use vintage ladders, old crates and pallet shelves to add interest and an upcycled touch.
8) Make use of smart storage
In a small space the more things one piece of furniture can do the better. Look for things like ottomans with storage inside, coffee tables with shelves underneath, and clever under bed storage. Keeping things you don’t need at hand inside cupboards and drawers, helps keeps things less cluttered.
9) Use paint colour well
White and lighter colour paint work well in most small spaces, but some dark colours can work very well too because visually dark colors recede, while light colors advance. What this means for a small space is that you don’t need to stick to white. Dark accent colors like deep blue, charcol, or even black, can make a space look larger when you use them on a wall. This will visually push the wall backward, giving the room a greater sense of depth and space. Experiment with colors you like, but remember that dark colored walls seem to work best when they have a large amount of natural light in the room which reflects off the walls of the room. It also works best when you stick to very light or white furnishings in the room.
10) Curtains Smoke & Mirrors
Create a sense of height with floor to ceiling curtains – try sheers or vertical stripes. Simply fit the curtain rod or track higher than the actual window. This tricks the eye into thinking there is far more space than there really is. Use mirrors well to reflect the outside views or a piece of artwork, and bounce more light into the room.
There are 10 tips for decorating small spaces. Choose what you can manage today and then consider if there are other things you could do in the medium and longer term to make your small spaces work for you. If you want help in decorating your home, check out my e-decorating and interior decorating packages here