When I was a student – almost a lifetime ago – I used to rent a roof converted loft apartment in a semi-detached house in North London. It was a really small space with a low ceiling, but once I decorated it, it turned out exceptional, despite the fact that my budget was even smaller than my rental’s square footage. Thankfully it never screamed “dorm-style.” It was definitely warm and cozy, but it never looked cramped, because I simply followed some basic principles that I’m about to share with you. The first and most important thing is to decorate with intention – to create a “clean” style with a distinct personalized theme.
In fact, one of the biggest mistakes is to go for either massive bulky furniture, or very petite almost miniscule. To this extent, you really have to measure your space and then decide on pieces that will fit in just right, allowing for enough room to walk around them.
Furthermore, leggy pieces just like transparent ones lend views of the floor under them, creating the illusion of a bigger space. Thus, it’s best for a small space to opt for coffee and/or side tables with tall legs that feel and look lighter. Modular furniture and floating desks are another ingenious approach when decorating a small space, especially nowadays that there’s a much wider pool of choice.
They forget though, that the small size of their space will almost automatically send out a warm and cozy vibe. Therefore, my recommendation is to stir away from any visual clutter including small knick knacks, too much greenery, high impact gallery walls (meaning a cluster of three images and higher) and in many cases, feature walls too. Instead, create a single strong focal point via an oversized piece of artwork and let the rest of the negative space do its magic.
Honestly, a large print over your sofa can do wonders even in the smallest of spaces, drawing your gaze upwards. Personally, I employed a flower pattern, because I was going for “… but not a bore” vibe I mentioned earlier. But I made sure that I created a theme out of that flower pattern drawing out its colors for that well-polished, cohesive look I aimed for. Remember that too many textiles with loud patterns, just because it’s the trendy thing to do, can have an adverse effect in a small footage area. Consequently, they don’t usually deliver the expected outcome in a small living space, even if you are into a bohemian interior style. Generally, they will simply make your space feel too crowded or worse, unsettling and messy.
Now, lighting is one of your big tools in your arsenal, starting with a statement luminaire; simple enough. So instead, I bought some really cheap, small table lamps and used them for backlighting my TV – media console and the back of my sofa that was almost against the wall.
I hid them both behind, so no one could see them, but everyone took note how that this narrow space of mine looked bigger and brighter. So don’t underestimate backlighting as a powerful and effective way to make your small living space appear bigger. As an alternative, use some low height bookcases that will allow for some negative space above for the eyes to rest. Otherwise, an up-cycled antique trunk at the bottom end of your bed or as a side table could double serve for storage.
Soft tones of neutral tans, light grays, and rich blue-green hues can also make your space appear larger. As long as you have a clear decorating intention and theme, then you can make an aesthetic commitment, even in the smallest living space.