Small-space decorating

Natural light is a small space’s best friend. (Photo: Dreamstime)

When you live in a tiny home or apartment, it’s hard to know where to put all your stuff. That new pair of heels? I guess they’ll have to double as decor on the mantel. That massive accumulation of books? Say hello to a makeshift side table. If you find yourself living in close quarters, then we don’t need to remind you how tricky decorating can be in a small space, where maximizing storage, utilizing square footage, and creative organization hacks are of utmost importance.

And while we often like to share new advice for making the most of your tiny housing, sometimes it can be more helpful to share what not to do. Since everyone has made some mistakes along the way, we thought we’d share our quick fixes so you can avoid learning the hard way. Read on for six mistakes to watch out for when outfitting your petite pad.

Mistake No. 1: Underestimating natural light
Natural light is a small space’s best friend. Maximize yours by placing mirrors on opposite walls from your windows to reflect and spread the light. Opt for woven blinds or sheer privacy curtains to filter sunlight rather than block it, and if the natural rays filtering into your space are limited, keep your paint hues and dominant furniture colors light to brighten the overall mood.

Mistake No. 2: Interrupting visual flow
Cohesion, cohesion, cohesion. If your home has multiple small adjacent rooms, help it feel larger by visually connecting the rooms through a unified color palette, material story or overall style. This will help the entire space seamlessly flow together.

Mistake No. 3: Fighting your size
The sooner you accept you have a small space and start taking steps to make the most of it, the quicker you’ll be able to craft chic surroundings. If you don’t have room for a bedside table, squeezing one in will only make your room feel more cramped. Instead, opt for a stool to rest remote controls, magazines and tiny table lamps. If a media cabinet won’t fit in your available square footage, mount a flat-screen on the wall, or tuck it into a bookshelf. Instead of a full-size desk, consider a vanity or narrow console. Cramming items in that will only lead to an unusable, squashed space.

Mistake No. 4: Crowding the surfaces
No matter how many smart storage solutions you incorporate, you’ll always have limited space. It’s important to evaluate your belongings and make sure everything is meaningful or functional. This can be super common on our vanities or in the bathroom, where products tend to pile up.

Separately, never underestimate the power of mirrors. They can double the visual space in a small home and reflect light and color to add visual interest. Mirrored backsplashes increase the size of a small kitchen, mirrored furniture provides an unexpected reflective surface, and large mirrored panels on a wall look like additional windows.

Mistake No. 5: Wasting valuable space
Get creative when it comes to storage areas and places to carve out more useable square footage. Incorporating floor-to-ceiling shelving, utilizing the space above the window frame and adding built-in seating maximize the functionality of this small family room. Placing a sofa in front of the bookcases enables unexpected storage on the shelves behind it.

If your kitchen is petite, rather than use counter space for decorative bowls or knickknacks, utilize the space under the upper cabinets for hanging utensil storage so your drawers and cabinets are free to hide less-attractive necessities. If your bathroom is tiny, forgo art above the toilet in favor of a hanging cabinet to increase your closed storage space.

Mistake No. 6: Playing it safe
If you do prefer minimalistic styles, then amplifying your small space by avoiding clutter and crowding your home with patterns is probably easier. But if you love maximalism, don’t fret over size. A lack of square footage doesn’t mean your home has to be bland. Incorporate large-scale patterns and bright-colored accents to bring interest to your pad. Bold wallpaper in a color scheme that connects your rooms, or bright drapery hung close to the ceiling will create focal points to distract the eye from a lack of excess space.

By Liz Lynch, Domaine (TNS). Get the latest on home decor trends, design ideas, shopping guides and food news, and take a look inside your favorite celebrity homes on