An Interior Designer's Tips For Decorating Small Spaces

Very few people have space to play with when it comes to decorating their houses. In fact, it's a good bet that nearly all of you are living somewhere far too small for you and all your things.
But until we all win the lottery and move into mansions, we're going to have to learn to live with it. Luckily, homeware favourite Habitat is doing a whole month on small space living and has roped in interior designers Athina Bluff and Amy Brandhorst of Topology Interiors, an affordable interiors company, to help out.
Topology is a big fan of going against the rules when it comes to what you should and shouldn't do in small spaces. "A while ago I saw a video house tour with Florence Welch on Nowness, who lives in this tiny house with narrow rooms and hallways," Amy tells us. "Instead of keeping the design quite clean (which is what you’d expect in a small space), she had covered every inch of the walls in framed flower pictures, photographs, kitsch ornaments like crosses and pinned up handwritten notes. Because there was minimal floor space she had used the walls to give character and as a result the house had so much personality."
Read on to find out Athina and Amy's tips to make your small space as big as you can.
1 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat
Mirror Image

If you've got the wall space, then hanging a mirror opposite a window is an excellent plan to capture more light from outside and reflect it around the room. Your room will appear brighter, lighter and more spacious. "If you're feeling creative," advise Athina and Amy, "play around with different shapes or multiple mirrors to reflect as much light as possible."
2 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat/Quiet Studios
Floor It

Sadly this tip only works for those who own their houses (or have very understanding landlords) but if you can, extending the flooring from one room into another is a great shout. It will create an "unbroken flow of space" which will make it "appear as though it's one big area and as though the floor is expanding."
3 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat/Meera Pendred of First Sense Interiors
Keep On Colouring On

Extend your walls by painting them the same colour as the door frames and skirting boards. Those extra few inches could make all the difference. "If they're all the same colour," say Athina and Amy, "they will blend in and make the room appear bigger."

If you are renting and still want to get that light feeling but can't paint, Topology recommends peelable wallpaper. "Imagine a big sticker with a pattern or colour on which you literally stick to the wall. It comes in rolls exactly like wallpaper but is easily removable and non-damaging to walls (even with paint on). A great place to find different designs is from Etsy."
4 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat
Paint It Black

"One for the brave!" Topology says of painting small rooms dark. According to them, dark shades like navy blue and grey can "disguise the perimeters of a room, blurring boundaries, which can make a room appear bigger than it is."
5 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat
Double Up

More and more multifunction furniture is hitting the market as the demand for small space furniture grows. Sofa beds, folding tables... these are your friends. Think about storage too, urges Topology. "Storage ottomans, pouffes, attractive-looking trunks, coffee tables... If there's a design that also hides the clutter (the enemy of small spaces), then do it."

"Recently at Maison & Objet, we saw a company that created a bookcase shelving unit, which could sit flush against a wall, but it had special hinges on it so that it could be unclipped and it turned into a dining table. We thought that was pretty nifty for a space-saving solution."

When it comes to clutter, if you have a lot of objects that you can’t get rid of, try to organise them into decoration: "If it’s books and magazines, organise them stylishly on a shelf with cool bookends or in a magazine rack. Alternatively, find storage that’s the same colour as your wall (or paint it yourself). Blending the colours harmonises the space, while all your clutter is discreetly hidden inside."
6 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat
Light As A Feather

"When you're considering furniture for a small living space, opt for 'weightless' or transparent furniture," say Athina and Amy. "The more you can see around the object (or through the object), the bigger the room will look." Keep an eye out for glass furniture, sofas raised up on legs, skinny framed shelving and more.
7 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat/Mad Cow Interiors
Get Lit

Don't just rely on one overhead bulb or a standing lamp alone in the corner. "You should aim to have at least six(!) light sources in a room at night. It will add depth and highlight multiple areas, which tricks the eye into thinking the space is bigger," advises Topology. "Strip lighting along shelving and cabinets is also discreet and really effective." You should also consider metallics and mirrors because again, they reflect the light, creating the illusion of more space.
8 of 8
Photo courtesy of Habitat
Call To The Wall

The floor isn't the only place you can stash your stuff, you know; your walls can be invaluable – provided you learn to use them correctly. "Think floating shelves, wall lights, clothes hooks, wall-mounted magazine racks, bike hooks, etc that will allow you to store things like folding chairs or display belongings without taking up valuable square floor footage," say Amy and Athina.

We're giving one lucky reader the chance to win £700 to spend at Habitat. Simply enter your email address! Enter before midnight 16th March.

More from Home


R29 Original Series