All Those Little Rules
For as long as people have been decorating their homes, there have been rules for getting it exactly right—and the rules just seem to multiply when your space is especially small and your goal is to make it seem bigger. Don't give in to the rules! Instead, read on to find out what everyone gets wrong about decorating in small homes, then take some of our tips for creating the perfect space, no matter the square footage.
Paint Doesn't Have to Be Light and Bright
You've probably heard more than once in your life that painting a room a dark color can make it feel cave-like and small, but the opposite can actually be true. Bobby Berk, a designer of “Queer Eye” fame, points out that dark walls can give depth to a room, but be sure to use a matte finish and choose accessories that add contrast to keep things looking large.
Your Furniture Doesn't Have to Be Small
Some would say that living in a small space means having to sacrifice your dream of sprawling out on a huge sectional—or does it? Small furniture can actually make a room look and feel even smaller, so don’t be afraid to get that large dining table or a big, comfy sofa. Just be sure that there's plenty of room to walk around, and be careful not to create any tripping hazards.
You Don’t Have to Have Marie Kondo-Level Organization
No matter the size of your space, it’s always good practice to clear the clutter so it doesn’t overwhelm. But that doesn’t mean you have to go full KonMari just because you live in a small home. Even small spaces can allow maximalists to show off collections or maintain a large library.
Your Area Rug Can Be Large
Although the conventional wisdom is to choose a small rug for a small room, doing so can have the surprising effect of actually making your space appear more confined. Opt instead for an area rug that can accommodate all your furniture, which will help visually expand the room.
Your Lighting Doesn't Have to Be Recessed
When working with a smaller space, designers often go with recessed lighting to give the illusion of sky-high ceilings. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have any light fixtures that take up space. A well-placed pendant or chandelier not only makes a big statement in a room, but it also draws the eyes up, pulling focus away from the lack of square footage.
Not Everything Needs to Be Neutral
While it’s true that neutrals can make a space appear bigger, it doesn’t mean you always have to limit yourself to neutrals in a small area. Don’t be afraid to add bold, vibrant colors to break up the monotony of whites, creams, or grays.
You Don’t Need to Use Only Small Patterns
Small room equals small patterns, right? Not so, actually. In fact, large patterns on wallpaper or artwork are perfect for adding major style to a room without taking up any square footage.
You Can Have Large-Scale Art
Large-scale art isn’t reserved for just those who are lucky enough to have tall ceilings and plenty of vertical real estate. Although it's generally accepted that small rooms should have proportionally sized artwork, a single grand piece can make a space appear larger than life.
You Don’t Have to Have Negative Space
It's typically recommended to cultivate negative space—to leave portions of walls intentionally bare—in small rooms so that the eye has a chance to rest, but this can be limiting to those with large collections of artwork. Arranging a gallery wall with many pieces of artwork can create major visual interest and, as a bonus, doesn't take up any precious floor space. If you're worried about a cluttered appearance, hang several larger works rather than many small ones.
Your Furniture Doesn't Have to Be Multipurpose
Multipurpose furniture is common in tiny digs for obvious practical and space-saving reasons. Don't, however, try to make every piece of furniture serve double duty. If you absolutely love a particular end-of-the-bed bench but it lacks storage, go ahead and purchase it.
Related: 21 Ways to Make a Small Bedroom Big
When it comes to making decorating decisions for a small room, go with what you like best—not what the rules say.
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