While you might have dreams of one day owning a massive estate filled with wide-open spaces and limitless design possibilities, the reality is that most people have to work with smaller spaces. In fact, the average house in America in 2015 spanned 2,687 square feet, while the average size of apartments in some of the biggest cities in the U.S is 882 square feet. For example, the average size rental in Seattle, Washington is just 711 square feet (that's smaller than the average in Manhattan, which is 733 square feet).
All this being said, there are benefits to working with a smaller space, and there are plenty of small room décor ideas to help you make the most of whatever square footage you have. According to interior designer Ginny Macdonald, small spaces tend to be cozier and easier to keep clean compared to larger spaces. "You can be selective about what pieces you have in there and focus on problem-solving," she points out.
Curious to know how this designer would approach decorating a small space? Here are six small room décor ideas we learned from the master. Keep reading to find out her simple tips for transforming any room.
"The worst thing you can do is overcrowd a small room with too much furniture," Macdonald says. So, you'll want to be sure you pick furniture that really gets the job done and doesn't simply take up space. For example, Macdonald doesn't recommend placing a sectional sofa in a small living room. Instead, she suggests getting as a big a sofa as the room can handle and then adding additional seating from there.
If you're looking for a quick fix in a small space, start by assessing your current furniture and determine whether or not you need all it. From there, you can toss underutilized pieces and swap in more space-efficient ones. Macdonald recommends being savvy with extra seating options by sourcing poufs that can fit undeath a coffee table so they'll be hidden away when not in use. "Low bookcases can also be used as extra seating with a cute seat cushion added on top—this would look great under a window," she adds.
Spruce Up the Décor
Although adding more décor elements into a small room may seem counterintuitive, Macdonald explains that certain pieces can work to open up any tiny space and even make it appear larger. Her top three small room décor ideas include the use of mirrors, art, and shelving. "Mirrors bounce light, so use these as much as possible as it will make the space feel bigger," she says. When it comes to art, the designer would opt for a full floor to ceiling wall of art to make a room feel taller.
Finally, strategically placed shelves are the perfect way to store more décor elements without crowding a space. "Add a small shelf at a high level that can be used for books and box storage as well as being styled out cute with vases and plants," she suggests.
Change the Layout
The layout is pivotal in a small room. Because you may be lacking in square footage, where you place all of your furniture and décor matters more than ever. While there's no exact formula for the perfect layout, Macdonald has a few tried and true tips for getting the most out of your space. "Depending on the shape of the room, always put the sofa on the longest wall as it will allow for other things to be positioned around it," she notes of living room layouts. Additionally, she suggests using the height of the walls entirely. That means adding shelving for storage next to the sofa instead of a traditional side table, for example.
When it comes to the bedroom, she also suggests utilizing space by placing the largest piece of furniture against a wall. "Don't be afraid to put your bed up against a wall," she says. "And where possible, avoid placing anything in front of the window," she adds. This is because you'll want to let in as much natural light as possible to make the room feel bigger than it actually is.
In any small room, but especially in the bathroom, Macdonald recommends creating as much room for storage as possible. "If you don't have a medicine cabinet, use some wall space to add small shelves for storage," she suggests, adding that the wall space above the toilet is often an area that goes unused. You can also easily find a decorative basket to place either on top of the toilet or under the sink to hold extra rolls of paper, towels, or other small items. Finally, installing extra hooks on the back of the door creates additional space to hang towels and robes out of sight.
Clutter is the number one enemy of any small room. That's why Macdonald thinks it's important to have a place for all of your belongings. Think drawer organizers, shelves, and smart furniture. In the bedroom, drawer dividers can help keep things organized and ensure that there's space for everything. Additionally, adding shelves can create space for other small items and small room décor pieces like plants, pictures, and objects. When it comes to furnishings, Macdonald suggests finding pieces with legs to bring things off of the floor and create the illusion of more space. "[It] will keep things light and airy," she points out.
Add a Fresh Coat of Paint
According to Macdonald, painting a room is a relatively low-cost way to transform a small space in no time at all. While it may seem like a daunting task, once you have the paint picked out, a small project can be completed in a flash, and it will make all the difference in your small room.
"A lot of people think white makes rooms feel bigger, but if there is little to no natural light, then a room can feel flat and lifeless," the designer explains. "By adding amid-toned color, it helps to add depth to a small space," she continues. Macdonald also notes that a darker tone can work as well, but you run the risk of ending up with a space that appears even smaller. "But the upside to that is it'll feel cozy," she points out.
Next Up: 11 simple rules that make a small bedroom feel like a master.
2015 Characteristics of New Housing. U.S. Department of Commerce. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2015.
As Apartments Are Shrinking, Seattle Tops New York With The Smallest Rentals in the U.S. RentCafe Blog. November 30, 2018.