White walls and bitsy furniture aren’t your only options for tight spaces. Let’s revisit some decorating ‘rules’
A customer went to one of those pod-storage companies asking to reserve one month of storage for a ReloCube. As everything was being finalized, the customer asked if it would be OK if he and his dog lived in the cube while it was in storage. Now that
Hopefully you are not going quite that small. But I would wager that as soon as your family and friends found out you were moving to a smaller home or apartment, they started telling you all the things you must not do when you decorate it. Am I right? I’ll bet even the UPS man weighed in!
Let’s take a look at some of those “rules” about decorating a small space and see if we can separate fact from fiction.
True or false? White or light-colored walls will make your rooms look larger.
False! Let’s be clear; there is absolutely nothing wrong with painting the walls in a small home white. It can be calming, serene, sleek and, with the right furnishings and accessories, stunning. The white walls here are made warm and inviting by the rustic mantel and eclectic accessories.
But after all, downsizing embraces reduction, so even if this rule were true — which it isn’t — who cares? Bottom line: You don’t need to eliminate color from your arsenal of decorating options.
Isn’t this a warm, enveloping, yummy color? It makes this small living room cozy and inviting. And painting the ceiling a lighter but complementary shade gives a wonderful lift while maintaining continuity.
Using color in unexpected ways brings interest — even surprise — to a small room. In this space the bold chocolate brown ceiling beautifully complements the neutral walls while igniting the room’s decor. Even the very prominent TV looks good.
If you love bold and electric, go for it! The pop of color on that corrugated wall works so well because of the crisp and quiet colors around it. This looks a little like a repurposed shipping container. (Such a great and green idea for a downsized space.)
Color is equally effective in small homes when used on furniture and accessories rather than walls. The deep orange of this side chair and the lime-green pillow and lamp make this room pop with joy.
Also note that the window and door trim has been painted a strong contrasting color. Unexpected hues on trim, beams, windowsills — even radiators — can create depth and visually expand the room.
Don’t limit your use of color to the living room. This small bedroom, with its walls wrapped in a lovely deep blue, is utterly welcoming.
Coloring just an accent wall is also an option, as in this classic bedroom. But remember a couple of basics: Make sure that your accent wall color is not so heavy that it leaves your room off-balance. And make sure that the color you choose is repeated at least once, as in the bedspread and wall art here.
Deep colors are fabulous, but pastels can be equally lovely, as in this tiny bedroom with its spa-blue paint. The textures of the bedding and pillows bring depth to the tranquil scheme.
OK, here’s another rule. Is it true or false? Small rooms demand small-scale patterns and small-scale pieces.
Uh, no. Certainly your small home will have spaces that require small-scale pieces, but including large-scale furniture pieces or fabric patterns is critical to the success of your decorating.
Consider that large pattern on the curtains here. If it were smaller in scale, or a solid, can you sense how the room would be diminished? One designer describes what I am saying this way: “Sometimes bitsy is just busy.”
Those of you who follow me know that I am a passionate advocate of mixing, mixing, mixing. And that is certainly true of scale, whether your home is tiny or massive.
Small bathrooms offer the perfect opportunity for whimsy and fun and statement. This large-scale paper absolutely makes this space. Even if you hesitate to add too much color or pattern to your living room, let your adventurous self loose in your bathroom. Then watch how you’re encouraged to go for it in the rest of your home.
Wowee zowee … isn’t this cool? Takes me straight back to the ’60s — in the best way possible.
Some small rooms are best served by one large-scale piece, like the sectional in this city studio. It seats as many people as a slew of small chairs but makes spectacular use of the space. This room is better for not being a “bowl of chairies.”
You can introduce large scale with a piece of furniture (remember my big antique secretary
); an upholstered piece, like a sectional; or accessories, like this striking chandelier.
Huge artwork in a small room is another great way to add scale. If it makes you chuckle, so much the better!
I am acutely aware that those of us who downsize do not always have a choice about the matter, which can make it a painful, bitter, even heartrending process. So please, let yourself have some fun! If you embrace color, whimsy and humor, like in this room, you will have gone a long way toward easing your journey and feeling welcome in your new home.