Big Ideas for Decorating Small Spaces

How to turn a small space into a cozy place you'll love

Courtesy photo

On Furniture

“Don’t go overboard on traditional furniture, such as a big coffee table — look for maybe a petite pedestal table instead,” says Pam Tiberia of Spruce Interiors in Hampton. “It is a misconception that you can’t have full-size furniture. You just need to look for really clean lines in the furnishings — such as a couch without big arms — and mix up shapes so they can fit in that space.”

“Embrace your small space,” says Colleen Lake of The Look Interiors in Stratham. “Let it be cozy. I had a client with a room that was 5 1/2 feet wide and 7 feet long. We found a couch that was exactly 5 1/2 feet wide and a small bookshelf, and she and her husband love it and feel like it is such an inviting space. Love what you’ve got.”

Tiberia adds that you should look for furniture that serves more than one purpose. For instance, choose “an ottoman that is a both foot rest and coffee table that stores blankets instead of a coffee table. And look for pieces that are portable that can be seating or a table or storage, or side tables that have enclosed storage and a shelf,” she adds.

On Maximizing Unused Space

When it comes to floor plans, these builders have discovered ways to use all the available space. “Make every square inch in the home functional, including odd nooks and crannies,” says Brian Eagen of Brian Eagen Builders in Deerfield. “For example, an awkward nook in a bedroom could easily be turned into a small home office with a built-in desk — I did this in my home. If possible, built-ins under stairs are a great storage area.”

“Think about areas in your floor plan that are unused,” says Ben Walden, a builder on the Seacoast. “Try to remove walls to make it more open concept and free up access to a room that might not be used as much. I see so many front door entryways that are unused. If you replace the front door with full light door, then you can turn it into a sunroom or a plant room,” he adds.

Both of the builders suggest plenty of ideas for bathrooms. “Pocket doors are a great space saver, especially going into bathrooms and closets,” says Eagen. “Skinny shelving units can be used for small spaces left next to showers that are too small for a linen closet as a place to store rolled towels or other items,” he adds.

Walden suggests combining your laundry room with your bathroom. “Put your washer and dryer next to each other with a shelf on top with cabinets above. It creates a really functional space, and those shelves replace a linen closet. It creates a lot more visual space and it opens the room up, even though the footprint is the same.”

On Color

Both the designers agree that color is a very important tool in small spaces. “If we want a small space to feel open and airy, then cool colors do that trick,” says Tiberia. “Coastal blues, light greens, grays. But if we paint a room a deeper color like gold or red, it makes the space feel smaller.”

“If you paint the ceiling the same color as the walls, then it really helps in a small space since it makes the space feel seamless and cozy,” adds Lake. “You can even use a bright color at half strength, and the result is that you feel totally tucked in.”  

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