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 new pair of heels? We guess they'll have to double as décor on the mantel. 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 can be in a small space, where maximizing storage, utilizing square footage, and creative organization hacks are of utmost importance.
And 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.
Mistake: 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.
Mistake: Interrupting Visual Flow
Cohesion, cohesion, cohesion. 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.
Mistake: 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.
Mistake: Crowded Surfaces
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.
Separately, never underestimate the power of mirrors. They can double the visual space in a small home and reflect light and color to add visual interest. Mirrored backsplashes increase the size of a small kitchen, mirrored furniture provides an unexpected reflective surface, and large mirrored panels on a wall look like additional windows.
Mistake: 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, 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 explained in a prior MyDomaine interview.
Mistake: Playing It Safe
If you do prefer minimalistic styles, then amplifying your small space by avoiding clutter and crowding your home with patterns is probably easier. But if you love maximalism, don't fret over size. 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.
Mistake: The Wrong-Sized Bed
In a shoebox-sized room, a four-poster bed unfortunately 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.
Mistake: Closed-in Arrangements
Regarding positioning, 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.
Mistake: 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."
Mistake: 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," said interior designer Jeremiah Brent in a prior MyDomaine interview. Brent adds, "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.
Mistake: Underutilizing Negative Space
If your kitchen is petite, rather than use 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.
Mistake: 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. Or can a slim bookcase offer additional storage somewhere, or a house plant on an oddly-shaped surface up the style factor?
Mistake: No Drapes at All
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.