Decorating a small home can be tricky. A little too much stuff and the space can look quickly cluttered. On the other hand there are essentials you need to fit in. Finding the balance between fitting everything in without filling up every inch of space is where it can get challenging.
The good news is that it’s entirely possible to have a calm, clutter free small home even if it’s as small as a studio. It does however require some restraint especially in terms of what you allow into your home.
I’ve decorated several homes from a teeny-tiny one bedroom apartment to the bigger three bedroom home I’m in now. The one key lesson I’ve learned through these experiences is that it’s never just about the space. You can just as easily fill up all the space in a huge mansion as you can in a studio. The key is to exercise restraint and have a place for everything you own.
How to make the most of your space in a small home
1. plan first, buy later
With a small home it’s important to plan out your space before making any purchases because each room often needs to serve more than one purpose. Whether it’s a studio apartment or a home with small rooms, decide on what you need to use each space for. Once you’ve decided create zones for each of the uses within a room.
A good example is the image above of a small studio room where they’ve got a clear living area, a work area and a sleeping area. Using simple ideas like the glass pane and curtains further help to mark out each area no matter how small. And it’s no coincidence that the living space is by the windows while the bed space is further back. Defining zones is essential to ensuring a small space doesn’t become a hot mess!
2. choose furniture carefully
For small spaces, furniture with clean lines and simple silhouettes works best. Avoid chunky, bulky looking furniture that can look too heavy. Furniture with slim legs raised off the floor creates the illusion of space. Considering the shape of the furniture for the space is equally important. A very small dining area in the corner of a room may work best with a round table. Or a narrow living room may benefit from an L-shaped sofa.
3. get creative with storage
In a small home keeping clutter at bay is essential, as I’m sure you know. Having said that there are things we need to store and it can be tricky to find space for it all in a small home. It helps to first consider what you need to store and how accessible it needs to be and then get creative with your storage. A mix of open and closed storage works well where you can display your favourite pieces while hiding the more unsightly clutter away.
There are many ways to get creative with your storage. The one thing that I strongly recommend is investing in multi-purpose furniture like beds with storage or mirrors with hangers or shelves that double up as a desk. For stuff that needs to be easily accessible invest in stylish wall hooks, pretty baskets and boxes. There are also many simple DIY storage hacks that you can do to give you that extra bit of storage like adding a rail under shelves or cabinets, putting up a curtain to hide shelves full of stuff, hanging a clothes rail from the ceiling, making shelves for otherwise wasted awkward nooks and corners.
4. less but big is best
A common mistake is to think small rooms need small pieces of furniture. The opposite is true. One big piece of furniture will make your room feel far more spacious than lots of little pieces. In a small living room, one big sofa is better than two small sofas. In a small bedroom, the biggest bed that you can comfortably go for is a good idea. An oversized statement light or one or two big artworks instead of lots of small pieces work well too. Bigger furniture in a small home will not only make the space feel bigger but also create a focal point. Of course, don’t forget that big also means less so keep that in mind.
5. leave space empty
It’s important to allow your furniture and your room as a whole to have breathing space. While this is true in any size home, it’s trickier to pull off in a small home but it’s essential to make your small space feel bigger. Apart from the obvious clearance needed for passing, opening doors etc try and leave empty floor space around your furniture and don’t use the floors for all your storage. Try and use vertical space as much as possible for your storage needs.
6. neutral tones are best
If you love Scandi decor (I’m assuming thats why you’re here), you’ll naturally be drawn to neutral tones. Neutral tones work so well in small spaces giving them a bright and spacious vibe. If you’re drawn to colour, one fab trick for small spaces is to paint your furniture the same colour as the walls which blurs the edges of the room making the space appear larger. Even dark colours can work in a small space using this trick but the key is to stick to one colour. Adding lots of different colours will make a small room look busy and smaller.
7. don’t impulse buy
This is key to keeping your home clutter-free. I know how easy it is to walk in to Ikea for one small thing and come back with a truck load of stuff! I’ve been there many times. Before you buy something consider where it will go. You can follow the ‘one in one out rule’ which works well if you follow it strictly. But try and be very careful about what you allow in to your home. Whenever I’m tempted to buy something I ask myself one question ‘how will this improve my space?’.
If you don’t know where it will go and it’s not going to improve your space, don’t buy it. This is hard but believe me it’s not worth piling up the clutter. And the best part is that you won’t even remember you wanted it a day later.
all photos via Alvhem