Small Space Decorating 101

Most of us don’t have the 20’ x 40’ lofts found in interior design inspiration photos. Here’s how to skillfully deck out the space you’ve got.

How to decorate a small room - Small Space Decorating 101

It’s a common dilemma – too much stuff, not enough space. But there are some easy ways to fix this problem by simply tricking your eye into believing that you have more space than you actually do. Here are ten easy way ways to make your space feel larger, no interior designer necessary.

1. Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Hang a few mirrors above the sofa or place a large one against the wall; it will make the area it reflects feel double the size. Mirrors also reflect light, and light makes a space feel bigger. Win win! Reflective finishes are a good choice in general – think metallic table lamps, glass tables, etc.

Image of living room with a standing mirror

2. Lighten Up

White, gray, beige and other lighter hues on the color spectrum will make your space appear open, airy and generally more spacious. Try to choose pieces with texture so the room doesn’t feel flat, such as thicker rugs with a high pile, soft throw pillows or shiny marble coffee tables.

Image of white living room

3. Add A Dash of Character

Distract from the size of your space by adding character in the form of quirky accessories or unique furniture. This is the time to let your imagination run wild… are you into music? Mount old records on your living room wall. Do you love to travel? Hang a bunch of vintage maps on the wall. Your guests will immediately be attracted to your unique accents and won’t even notice your lack of square footage.

Image of brown leather sofa in a white living room

4. Choose Small Scale Furniture

The scale of your furniture is as important as the style, so be sure to pick pieces that are smaller to trick the eye into believing that the space itself is bigger. Loveseats are good alternatives to regular sofas, and low coffee tables will give the illusion of a higher ceiling. Be sure to measure carefully before you buy, and use search terms like “compact” and “space saving.”

Image of grey couch and wooden end table

5. Think Up, Not Out

Don’t forget about the value of vertical space. Instead of buying a tv stand, try a floor to ceiling shelving system that can fit your tv… that way you won’t waste all of that valuable space above. Do you have empty space above your kitchen cabinets? Use it to your advantage by adding vintage wooden storage crates. Even the space above doorways is fair game… mount a floating shelf above your bathroom door for towels or hang a few framed photos above your bedroom door.

Image of white built in bookshelf in apartment

6. Do Double Duty

Choose furniture that functions in multiple ways, such as storage ottomans that can be used as extra seating, or convertible coffee tables that store items below and become a work surface when opened. Multipurpose furniture can be used in all areas of your apartment – from sofa beds in your living room, to storage cubes in your bedroom.

Image of industrial storage pop-up coffee table

7. Cohesion Is Key

Be sure to pick a color scheme and stick to it throughout your whole space to make your apartment feel cohesive. This is especially important if you have an open concept space, but even more compartmental layouts can benefit from a unified color scheme. If you like wooden furniture, try to buy pieces made of the same type of wood for every room… that way, your eye will view the whole apartment as one big space, rather than multiple tiny ones.

Image of industrial design interior

8. Curb The Clutter

Nobody likes the process of putting things away, but eliminating clutter is a really easy way to make your space feel larger. Make sure that everything you own has a specific place to hide… the clean, streamlined look will give your apartment an airy, open vibe, thereby making it feel bigger. Even the simple act of corralling a few random items on a tray will make them feel intentional rather than haphazard.

Image of gooseneck desk lamp and wall art

9. Fold It Up

Opt for folding furniture when possible, and be sure to fold it back up when not in use. This will create more room to move around and will give your space a sense of openness. Wall mounted desks that fold down from the wall, folding chairs, murphy beds and folding tray tables are all great pieces that will help you expand your space visually.

Image of fold down desk from West Elm

10. Rethink It

There are many areas that are often underutilized, but with a bit of creative thinking you may be able to open up some additional space that you didn’t know existed in your apartment. Corners are top on the list – add shelves to an unused corner, or stash away a stool for the next time you need extra seating. Don’t forget about the area behind the sofa… move it forward a foot to make room for a console table or storage shelf.

Image of Scandinavian home interior decorWhile it will require a bit of time to make your space feel larger, your efforts will pay off once you finally have room to move around. Have other ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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Faith Towers is a designer and writer with a passion for all things creative. She received her art degree from Skidmore College, and her work has been featured in many well-known publications such as Forbes, Yahoo and Curbly. Visit her blog Design Fixation for more creative inspiration.

  • pyrokeet

    Some nice ideas but I like how you say at the top not everyone has 12m x 6m spaces… then go on to show photos that look more like a large office space than a small flat!

  • Tammi Carson

    I agree 100% about The Clutter. It can be so annoying, and believe it or not it builds up. They say that Clutter cuts off energy and it does sometimes.