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Decorating Small Spaces 101

Discover how with the right design plan and the right furniture pieces, you can create a functional small space that seems much bigger than it really is.
Updated Jan 01, 2018
Decorating a small space can be challenging for even the most experienced designers. And this can be especially important for your tiny home or smaller ADU space. However, with a strategic design plan and the right pieces, you can maximize your square footage and enjoy a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle.

1. Stay Organized

In order to truly relax and enjoy your small space, you need to stay organized. However, when you’re dealing with such limited floor space, this is easier said than done. The good news is that it’s totally possible to stay organized in a small space with the right strategy and the right products.
Essentially, you’re going to want to take advantage of every inch of space that you have and utilize it in the most efficient way. Different components like bins, baskets, and drawers are key to organizing a small space.

2. Eliminate Unnecessary Pieces

If you’re moving from a larger space into a smaller space, you may need to part with some of your furniture. In an ideal world, you would be able to keep all of your furnishings together, but that may not be possible in your new and smaller room. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to get rid of all your pieces of furniture.
Instead, you need to consider your lifestyle. Only keep the furniture items that you absolutely need. For instance, you may not need a formal dining room table or a loveseat to go along with your sofa. Prioritize functional furniture over bulky furniture. Generally, clutter, like knick knacks, will work against you in a space like this.

3. Use Multifunctional Pieces

Once you have narrowed down your pieces, it’s time to fill in the gaps with some new pieces that will work with your smaller space. Specifically, you need to look for multifunctional pieces so that you can truly make the most out of your small space.
For instance, you may want to consider a murphy bed or a daybed. These are especially useful in small studio spaces such as this small attached ADU in Palo Alto. You could also go with a desk that converts into a table. There are also coffee tables that can convert into dining tables. This design trick is ideal for creating the illusion of more space.

4. Consider Folding Pieces

On a similar note, not only should your new pieces be multifunctional, but they should also be folding if possible to better utilize your open space. For instance, there are floating desk units that fold up into the wall. There are also collapsible chairs that you can use for dining or lounging. Finally, you may want to consider a folding armchair or couch that can easily fold out to create more seating space.

5. Incorporate a Large Area Rug

Consider accessories: Another thing that you will want to do with your small space is to incorporate a large area rug. A large area rug will help anchor your furniture and make the space feel more cohesive since it’s not breaking up the floor.
We recommend going with the largest possible rug for your layouts—and don’t be afraid to have some fun with big and bold patterns that will also help manifest an illusion of depth. Check out this detached ADU’s living room for inspiration!

6. Play With Scale

Many people falsely assume that living in a small space means that you can only have small furniture. However, that’s definitely not the case. In fact, it may make sense for you to play with scale in terms of using items of different sizes.
Perhaps you may want to have a big couch with a smaller coffee table and ottomans. You could also incorporate a large bed with smaller nightstands and dressers. At the end of the day, choose the scale of your furniture based on your personal needs.

7. Embrace Smart Lighting

If you want your small space to look its best, then you need to embrace smart lighting. Good lighting is important in any space, but it’s vital in small spaces. After all, you don’t want your home to look like a dark dungeon.
In this case, it makes sense for you to incorporate ceiling lights or a hanging pendant light rather than a floor lamp. Recessed lighting is always ideal if you’re able to install it—these are common in the backyard Cottages that we build.

8. Take Advantage of Natural Light

While artificial lighting is good, natural lighting is even better. As a result, you will need to take advantage of whatever natural lighting your space has. To do this, you need to be smart about your window treatments.
Using blackout curtains or blinds is not ideal in this scenario. Instead, you should use light and sheer window treatments that let the light shine through instead of blocking it out, especially if a particular room has a low ceiling.

9. Create Different Zones

Arranging furniture in a small space can seem like an impossible task. Rather than randomly throwing your furniture into the space, you need to take a more strategic approach by creating different zones.
For instance, you can have your “sleeping zone” with your bed, your “living zone” with your couch and television, and your “eating zone” with your kitchen and maybe a small table. While these zones don’t necessarily need to be formally divided, some kind of division or markers helps to separate the zones and create flow (and privacy) within the space.

10. Take Advantage of Wall Space

Another thing that you need to do when decorating your small space is to take full advantage of your wall space. Use your wall space for storage with shelves or cabinets. A small nook can actually be a great storage space. Finally, you can use your wall space to mount those folding furniture pieces we previously mentioned to get them up and out of the way.

11. Pick and Stick To a Color Scheme

Now it’s time for the fun stuff —color! A lot of people assume that they need to stick with light and neutral colors in small spaces; that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, if done properly, you can definitely use bolder and darker colors.
No matter which colors you choose, just make sure that you stick to your color scheme for a cohesive look in the space. This interior ADU space is a great example. Another great way to make a small room feel larger is with an accent wall, while vertical stripes can create much-needed height.

12. Use Reflective Surfaces

If, despite all of this, your space is still feeling cramped, you may want to incorporate some reflective surfaces. Reflective surfaces help open up your space and give the illusion that it’s bigger than it really is.
Whether this means mounting mirrors to the wall or using mirrored furniture pieces, you can really have some fun with this to create an inviting space. Putting mirrors in frames is a great conversation starter. For an extra bonus, you can use these mirrors as a strategically placed vanity that you or guests can use to get ready in the morning.

13. Use Patterns Wisely

We all love patterns, but when it comes to small spaces, you have to be careful. Generally speaking, large patterns work better in smaller spaces rather than small, busy ones. You also don’t want to use too many different patterns as it might overwhelm the space.

14. Incorporate Different Textures

When it comes to finishing your small space, you can spice it up by incorporating different textures. For instance, you can choose different fabrics for your couches, bedding, chairs, etc. From there, you can take it to the next level with things like throw blankets, pillows, tablecloths, etc.

Creating Incredible Spaces in Tiny Homes

Tiny homes don’t necessarily come with small design ideas. Instead, you can go big with your tiny home decor with the right design and construction partner. Cottage offers custom-built and professionally designed tiny home spaces that are tailored to your needs and design taste. Reach out to us for a free consultation to see how we can maximize your small space.

Get your free consultation and estimate today!