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10 Decorating Tips for Small Spaces

Think outside the tiny box! These creative design solutions will make any small space feel, look and function bigger and better.

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Small room in a homeMechelle Brooks/Getty Images

Decorating Small Spaces

Small spaces aren’t exclusive to tiny houses. Homes of all sizes have small rooms that can present decorating challenges. Plus, any space that needs to be multifunctional can start to feel small when we start adding in all the things we need.

There are three main aspects to improving your tiny space decor. First up: How does the space look? Is it dark and gloomy or open and airy? Next, how does your space feel? Chaotic, or organized and peaceful? And finally, how is your space working for you and your family? Perhaps your family room is now your home office, kid’s classroom or main hang-out space.

The simple tips below can help solve each of these issues and make your tiny space look bigger, feel better and give you the functionality you need.

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Wall lightvia wayfair.com

Light Smart

Lighting, more than any other facet of home design, can make a tiny space feel larger. Our eyes are naturally attracted to light, so when you illuminate a dark corner your mind’s eye sees more space.

Wall sconces are a perfect way to add light without taking up valuable floor space. LED strip lighting is not only great for under-cabinet kitchen lighting, but is a valuable addition to shelving and other task areas. Adding dimmers to your lighting fixtures means ultimate mood control.

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Shiplapvia amazon.com

Use Your Lines

Make a space look taller with vertical-stripe wallpaper, vertically oriented tiles or shiplap with those nice, long lines. This brings your eye upward and visually lifts the ceiling height. Want to make your room look wider? Run your flooring across the short walls to visually expand your tiny room.

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Yellow ceilingAndrea Rugg/Getty Images

Look Up

Painting your ceilings a color or pattern, or even adding wallpaper, adds color and interest to your space. This is especially handy when there’s not much wall space to work with because of doors, doorways and windows. Contrary to popular belief, painting a ceiling a light or medium tone will actually make a low ceiling feel higher!

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Curtains set out from the windowDavid Sacks/Getty Images

Curtain Considerations

Natural daylight will always make a space feel bigger and it won’t cost you a penny! To help, install window treatments outside and above your window trim (not right on it) so your treatments won’t block all the natural light. This works for drapery panels and shades, too, making the windows appear larger.

If your space is particularly tiny, stop your draperies at the window sill. Your room will feel more spacious when floor areas stay open and clear.

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Floating drawersvia wayfair.com

Float Your Furniture

Wall-mounting or floating furniture gives the illusion of a larger room, since you see more open floor space. This works for everything from wall-hung nightstands to floating bathroom vanities and even toilets.

Likewise, choosing furniture with legs instead of a solid base or skirt will make a tiny space feel airy and open.

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Wood grain chairs with non-wood tableLOOK Photography/Getty Images

Go With the Grain

While wood grains and natural elements tend to be warm and inviting, these grains and textures can be visually busy. Too much texture and pattern will make your small space feel and look crowded. Alternating elements of solid tones with areas of wood grains leads to a more peaceful design, as it allows your brain to process textures individually.

If you’re using oak or pine, stick with a lighter wood stain color, which will minimize the grain. If you like the idea of dark stain, try using a cherry, maple or any wood which has a finer grain pattern.

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Pulley lightvia amazon.com

Embrace Pulleys

Whether they are wall- or ceiling-mount, pulley-style, adjustable fixtures offer flexible lighting solutions. It’s like having two-fixtures (and functions) for the price (and space) of one! Extend the fixtures when needed or tuck them back in and out of the way.

This works wonders when you have a table that’s not always in the same spot. Lower it for intimate dinner lighting, then raise it up and out of the way after.

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Under bed drawervia wayfair.com

Store Smart

Visual clutter will always make a space feel smaller. Take advantage of wasted space, like under your bed or behind doors, to unlock additional storage.

Also consider functional storage that is easily movable, tucked away or convertible to other uses. Storage ottomans on casters, for example, can be pulled from in front of the sofa to provide additional seating or a temporary table. For the latter, just add a serving tray.

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Bedroom color schemeAndreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images

Choose Colors Wisely

One of the best ways to make your tiny home feel larger is to control how color and pattern work in your space. When you keep a space simple, it feels less cramped.

Try this method: Select one patterned fabric, rug, wallpaper or work of art that you love as your main color reference. Pull from that no more than three accent colors. Then add one base neutral color (white, gray or beige) to form your color palette. Stick to it when making your choices.

This will likely mean introducing other related patterns, and that’s OK! Just be sure to contain them to smaller areas, like pillows, curtains or area rugs, to leave space for the eye to rest.

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Converting coffee tablevia amazon.com

Consider Convertibles

Multi-functional furniture pieces will minimize the elements needed in your tiny space. Depending on the formality of your dining needs, a coffee table that converts to a desk or eating surface is a great use of space that offers storage, too. Don’t have room for a large table for family gatherings? How about an expandable table that doubles as a console?

And if you’re up for a project, try our DIY Murphy Bed/Desk. You don’t even have to take the items off the desk when you convert it!

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Carrie Oesmann Bailiwick Interior Design
Carrie Oesmann, ASID, AKBD, CLIPP, has transformed hundreds of homes in her 20-year career as an award-winning interior designer. Carrie's company, BailiwickInteriorDesign.com, is an online, virtual, interior design platform, based in Bethlehem, PA. Her work has appeared in numerous publications such as Design NJ, New York Spaces, and Distinctive Kitchens. Oesmann shares her design insights through her blog which features articles on every aspect of home design and remodeling, including the complete renovation of her own 1905 historic home. Follow her daily tips on Instagram @bailiwickdesign.