With a few easy decorating tips, living in a small space need not feel claustrophobic. Stop the walls closing in on your small room by boxing clever with colour, size and shape.
Wall AroundWhen decorating the walls of a small room it makes sense to use lighter, softer colours for an airy, spacious feel. Brighter, cooler shades will reflect light and give a more spacious look. Try relaxing cream hues, or nature’s greens and blues, colours we often associate with large expanses of space in the natural world. If you have wall-mounted radiators, paint them the same colour as the walls so that they blend in almost invisibly – ensure you buy radiator-friendly paint that can stand the heat. If your aim is to design a short room to appear longer, simply paint the furthest wall in a lighter shade of the colour on the remaining walls. For even greater impact, the illusion of space can be created by using multiple paint tones from bottom to top, using the deepest tone nearest the floor and working your way up to the ceiling, where painting the lighter tone will create a feeling of height. Most of us know that a white ceiling makes a room feel more spacious – this trick fools the eye so that it can’t easily determine a room’s height.
Wallpaper can be used to great effect when decorating a small room. Adopt the same colour rules as you would if you were painting, but have some fun with pattern to enlarge your space. Generally speaking, larger, bolder patterns should be avoided, since they will bring the walls in and make the room space feel enclosed. On one surface only, such a design can give a roomier feel, but if you prefer to err on the side of caution, choose paper with a small, discreet print to give the illusion of receding walls. Striped prints can also be great fun in a small room, providing you work with the old adage ‘less is more’. Horizontal stripes running along the midpoint of a wall will seem to extend the surface sideways – great for creating the illusion of length. Similarly, controlled use of vertical stripes will make a low ceiling feel higher. Care should be taken not to ‘clutter’ the room with pattern, but put to good use, tricks like these can look fantastic.
Similarly to ceilings, light floors will bring a feeling of space to a room, whatever covering you choose. Wood or laminate flooring is great for reflecting natural light and will really open up a small room, while carpets are best in soft, light shades. Though you may think that laying rugs will visually enlarge the interior of a room, the opposite is true. Keeping one colour and texture throughout gives a clean, clear and flowing look – think of an endless sky on a clear day.
As with decorating, the key to furnishing a small interior space is simplicity. Choose plain fabrics, rather than patterned, and try to blend furnishing shades with the colours you’ve chosen for the walls. This approach gives a clean, uncluttered feel, and need not look insipid. The more floor space you can see in a small room, the bigger it will feel, so think about a glass or acrylic table top, or maybe a space-saving pedestal or folding table. Though you may be tempted to fill your room with small pieces of furniture, fewer, larger items will be much more effective, creating a calmer, orderly look. Try not to place objects so that they intrude into walkways – keeping the space around doorways clear will allow light (and you) to move effortlessly around the room. You might consider scaled-down furniture for a really small interior, but whatever the dimensions you have to work with, experiment with furniture placement and don’t automatically assume you must position pieces against walls.
The fight for light is easily won with some strategically placed mirrors, which will reflect both natural and artificial light to maximum effect. Using this trick, even the smallest space will appear larger, and bigger still if you place your mirrors where they can reflect outside space. In this way, bringing the outside in immediately creates the illusion of size. Although it’s a good idea not to fill a small room with too many accessories, try to choose those with reflective surfaces so that they complement the work of your mirrors.
It’s important to remember that however clever your interior decorating, these tips require an uncluttered space to achieve the desired effect. Discard any bits and pieces you no longer want, and store other items away so they don’t detract from the overall look. Small can be beautiful – with a little discipline!