When you live in a tiny home, it can be a puzzle to arrange your furniture so that it is equally functional, stylish, and expansive. That massive accumulation of books? Say hello to a makeshift side table. If you find yourself living in close quarters, then we don't need to remind you how tricky decorating small spaces can be. Maximizing storage, utilizing square footage, and creative organization hacks are of utmost importance.
While we often like to share new advice for making the most of your tiny housing, sometimes it can be more helpful to share what not to do. Since everyone has made some mistakes along the way, we thought we'd share our quick fixes so you can avoid learning the hard way.
From underestimating natural light to fighting a room's size, read on for 20 mistakes to watch out for when decorating small spaces.
Underestimating Natural Light
Natural light is a small space's best friend. Maximize yours by placing mirrors on opposite walls from your windows to reflect and spread the light. Opt for woven blinds or sheer privacy curtains to filter sunlight rather than block it.
If the natural rays filtering into your space are limited, keep your paint hues and dominant furniture colors light to brighten the overall mood.
Interrupting Visual Flow
Keep cohesion in mins. If your home has multiple small adjacent rooms, help it feel larger by visually connecting the rooms through a unified color palette, material story, or overall style. This will help the entire space seamlessly flow together. We love how the neutral-toned walls provide continuity throughout the space pictured.
Fighting Your Size
The sooner you accept that you have a small space and start taking steps to make the most of it, the quicker you'll be able to craft chic surroundings. If you don't have room for a bedside table, squeezing one in will only make your room feel more cramped. Instead, opt for a stool to rest remote controls, magazines, and tiny table lamps. If a media cabinet won't fit in your available square footage, mount a flat-screen on the wall, or tuck it into a bookshelf. Instead of a full-size desk, consider a vanity or narrow console.
No matter how many smart storage solutions you incorporate, you'll always have limited space. It's important to evaluate your belongings and make sure everything is meaningful or functional. This can be super common on our vanities or in the bathroom, where products tend to pile up.
Underutilizing Vertical Space
Get creative when it comes to storage areas and places to carve out more useable square footage. Incorporating floor-to-ceiling shelving, utilizing the space above the window frame, and adding built-in seating, for example, help maximize the functionality of a room.
"A small space means that there is very little actual floor space in your room, so to combat the lack of floor space, go vertical with your storage and décor," designer Brady Tolbert explains.
Playing It Safe
A lack of square footage doesn't mean your home has to be bland. Incorporate large-scale patterns and bright-colored accents to bring interest to your pad. Bold wallpaper in a color scheme that connects your rooms or bright drapery hung close to the ceiling will create focal points to distract the eye from a lack of excess space.
Choosing the Wrong-sized Bed
In a shoebox-sized room, a four-poster bed takes up too much precious real estate. Instead, think smaller scale. For example, a headboard still makes a statement without crowding the room. If you've got low ceilings, try a platform bed. Or, combine bedframe and dressers with a captain's bed for a ton of extra storage.
Having Closed-in Arrangements
Designer Leanne Ford recommends centering the bed. "Even though you don't have much space on either side, it will feel better for both parties to be able to get out of the bed easily and prevent the college-style technique of the bed against the wall," Ford told MyDomaine.
Utilizing Dark Colors
While designers say a dark-colored accent wall can work to open up a space, think light and bright with your color palette instead. On vivid colors, Tali Roth, interior designer for Homepolish told MyDomaine, "I think it gives small spaces so much life and personality, but it also plays on the size, making it feel more significant in impact even if it is small."
Using Small Furniture in Excess
Designers like Roth say weightier pieces have a place in smaller spaces as long as the entire room is edited. Consider investing in statement pieces like a comfortable couch in a luxe textile, or a classic dresser that can transition seamlessly as your style preferences change.
"Most people believe that a small space means you need to use small furniture—that’s simply not the case," says interior designer Jeremiah Brent. "Instead, focus on scale and proportion."
Smaller spaces magnify anything that isn't in its place, so tidy as you go. Beyond being visually appealing, streamlined spaces also improve a home's feng shui.
Underutilizing Negative Space
If your kitchen is petite, rather than using counter space for decorative bowls or knickknacks, utilize the space under the upper cabinets for hanging utensil storage so your drawers and cabinets are free to hide less-attractive necessities. If your bathroom is tiny, forgo art above the toilet in favor of a hanging cabinet to increase your closed storage space.
Incorporating Overwhelming Patterns
When it comes to pattern in small spaces, moderation is key, such as on an accent wall or expressed through a throw pillow or rug.
Hanging Bulky Curtains
Heavy, blackout drapes shrink a small space, so opt for lighter material instead, or drapes with a subtle pattern—especially in spaces where you want to take advantage of natural light, like the living room.
Lack of Lighting
Natural light can only go so far. Layer the lighting in your home with a mix of overhead, task, and accent lighting. Space-saving options include floor lamps and sconces.
Painting Walls White
The caveat with white paint is that not all home styles will benefit from its expansive qualities. Some dark nooks might make a cozy seating area, for example, and in general, dark colors add more dimension to a space.
Underestimating Every Nook and Corner
Challenge yourself to utilize every awkward corner or funky design feature to your advantage. For example, reimagine a linen closet into a built-in armoire with upgraded hardware.
Using Minuscule Rugs
It sounds counterintuitive, but a larger rug will help open up a space better than a smaller one. Plus, several small rugs will end up dividing an already petite space.
While a certain less-is-more approach to decorating small spaces rings true to an extent, don't forgo drapes for the sake of minimalism. Designers say the right window dressings help draw the eye up, it just comes down to material and pattern selection.
Ignoring Multi-Purpose Furniture
In a small space, maximize square footage with furniture and décor that can also function as storage. For example, can your ottoman also hold extra throw blankets? Or can you get more space-saving mileage out a bed frame with drawers?