Decorating Small Spaces
Learn How - Here
Decorating small spaces or rooms with low ceilings can seem tricky.
Here we are looking at the tricks and techniques interior designers use to get a feeling of space in small rooms.
You don't need to be stuck feeling like you are living in a closet...
...just choose your paint colors, layout and lighting carefully.
I'll show you how...
You can use this page with your free downloadable How to Design checklist to help you keep track of your design decisions
We all long for big, posh houses, but the reality is that most of us, myself included, live in small spaces...
What We've Learned From Experience...
Decorating small spaces can be a challenge, but is certainly not impossible...
Our tiny cottage is certainly small. It is sometimes hard work to keep it clear of clutter, and feeling spacious...
But we do, at least, get a lovely cozy and homely feel.
My top tip for decorating small spaces is to be strict with the clutter...
For small rooms you do need to keep a careful eye on junk and clutter building up...
Our 'Big' Bathroom Challenge
One of my 'biggest' interior design challenges in my own home, is my very small bathroom - without a window!
It always felt dark and dingy to me - even with a brand new white bathroom suite.
For a while I mistakenly tried dark colors - to add some dramatic style - no good!
Cozy not Cold
Surely then, all over white would work? But no, it ended up far too cold and clinical.
I still didn't want to spend any time in there.
In the end, I decided to decorate with a very pale green, beautiful and soothing.
The paint we chose has special light reflective finish - which bounces all the available light around the room.
I added a large mirror, to enhance the effects, and make the most of the light reflections - and - success at last!
Or so we thought! It didn't end there, actually...
We found this still to be too cold and clinical - so as a compromise we've just painted in a soft yellow...
Pale enough to reflect light around... But still warm and cozy enough to have a homely feel...
And yellow is the perfect color for adding a bit of that 'sunshine' feel to a small, dark room...
Now we have a bathroom that's just right!
Here are some home interior design tips for decorating small spaces and rooms with low ceilings...
Basics for Decorating Small Spaces
A small kitchen can look gorgeous too -
just follow these rules!
- Use light colors
- Use cold colors - blues, some purples, some greens
- Use light reflective paint
- Use mirrors and glossy finishes
- Paint the ceiling white, or lighter than the walls
- Have lots of light - and use uplighters, to highlight the light ceiling
- Keep home decor simple - limit patterns, and make sure any patterns you do use, aren't too fussy, or overwhelming
- Small patterns work best
- Streamline your furniture - and keep open spaces in mind when arranging furniture
- Stay as tidy and uncluttered as possible
- Consider a simple modern interior design style - traditional designs can sometimes seem fussy and cluttered in a small space.
- Match the scale of your furniture to the scale of your room - but take care not too choose dainty furniture with too much detail which may give a fussy and cluttered effect
- Wallpaper with vertical stripes can make low ceilings seem taller
- Any vertical lines in your room can work well in this way, such as vertical wood cladding.
- As well as a build up of clutter, do take stock of the amount of furniture in your tiny room - do you really need it all?
...I mean really need it?
...only keep what you truly need or what makes a truly beautiful feature in your room.
- Small spaces need appropriately sized furniture - look out for smaller scaled and non-standard sizes of furniture, baths etc.
- Having said this, do try to keep furniture neat and ordered in a small room...
If you have the space, one large bookcase or shelving unit will look far neater than 2 or 3 smaller ones scattered around the room
Keep it Simple!
- Choose pale colored furniture, or paint existing furniture white, cream or a light gray) to keep a spacious feel.
- Add pale cushions and throws to dark colored sofas and chairs to lighten the whole look.
- Delicately proportioned furniture suits a small space better than heavy, chunky pieces.
- Clear see-through furniture can also lessen the impact of furniture in your room.
- Furniture that is lifted off the floor - wall mounted or with longer legs - allows you to see more floor space, and creates the impression of a larger room.
- Mirrored furniture reflects light and makes the space feel lighter, brighter and larger.
- Consider custom built and built-in furniture to make the most of all available space.
- Try not to line furniture up all around the walls - tempting though this is in a small space!
This immediately draws attention to your walls and defines the walls as the boundaries.
You then 'see' shows you the small floor space remaining as the total room area.
See more ideas for arranging furniture and drawing your own layout plan...
Colors for Decorating Small Spaces
- Choose pale colors (whites and creams) and cool colors (blues, greens and lilacs) in pale shades to help with decorating small spaces.
- As we experienced in our own home, too many pale colors can lead to a room feeling 'cold' or unwelcoming.
If you like a cozier look, consider warmer pastels - pale yellows, pinks, or peaches.
Or take advantage of that simple background to add some statement pieces in brilliantly bright colors - more about focal points and features in a minute...
- Paint your walls in one color from floor to ceiling for a greater sense of space. Skirting boards, chair rails and covings can all be painted in the same color.
- Wallpaper and Patterns can be used to add personality and interest to your home, but try to keep the scale of the pattern small to enhance the proportions of your room.
Don't go too small all-over though - this can end up looking fussy, even in a small room - and can even give a dated look...
As long as they aren't too over-sized a bold pattern can be very effective in adding a splash of color and interest to a small room.
Read interior design tricks for using pattern in your home...
Interior design guidelines for decorating with color
Floors and Doors
- Keep floors neutral and pale.
- It can be a good idea when decorating small spaces to use one flooring throughout the whole home.
This allows you to 'borrow' spaces from adjoining rooms when doors are open, to make your room feel larger.
- removing doors
- an open-plan space
- fitting the door hinges on the opposite side of the frame
- using glass doors
- fitting sliding doors
...to add the feeling of more space
Fixtures, Fittings and Accessories
Keep it Streamlined
Go for Glossy
- Choose glossy and shiny textures to reflect light around a room.
Accessories and Artwork
- Add mirrors which will help bounce light around very effectively.
- Hang pictures and other artwork together, neatly in groups, rather than scattering them haphazardly around the room.
- Do the same when arranging accessories and ornaments.
Focal Points and Features
- Uplighters can help your room feel more lofty, lighter and airier.
- Also use lamps to light up dark corners so that the light reaches every corner.
You do have to be a bit careful when decorating small spaces, to keep a spacious feeling, where you don't feel too crammed in...
...and strict with yourself, so as not to allow clutter to build up.
But a small space can be a lovely cozy area to relax in - and remember, there's certainly less cleaning to do!
I hope that some of these ideas for decorating small spaces can really help you to make the most of and enjoy your own compact rooms...
More help for small rooms
Look at some ideas for decorating small bathrooms and some of our own small bathroom decorating ideas, from our own bathroom makeover
Also check out how we treated our own tiny-lounge makeover
Does your room feel too dark?
Look at some free decorating ideas to lighten and brighten your too-dark rooms
Also check out the sections on decorating with color and home interior lighting, for more information.
Click here to discover principles of interior design for problem narrow or wide rooms
Take a look at some easy decorating tips for awkward shaped or wonky rooms
Don't forget to make notes on interior design information you can use in your own design on your free downloadable How to Design checklist
Use it to help keep track of all your design decisions
Readers who needed help with decorating small spaces and low ceilings...
Take a look at how some visitors to this site have coped with decorating small spaces and low ceilings...
Kathy wants help for a living room with low, sloping ceilings
Katrina needs help for a small room with a cluttered feel
Patricia wonders how to decorate for low ceilings
Sandra asks about crown molding and low ceilings
Ask your own decorating small spaces question here...
Return to the main interior decorating information page on Room Proportion
Where to Go Next
If you have already solved all your room proportion problems, you can move on to look at layout and arranging furniture
Keep Track of your Own Interior Design Process
Keep track of where you are in the process, and where to go next on the main How to Design page
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