When decorating a small room we all want to achieve that perfect balance of style and function. We caught up with some leading interior designers to bring you some of their favourite tricks, from selecting the right colours to choosing lighting.
Sally Homan from Robertson Lindsay Interiors lives in a city centre so has first hand experience of small spaces.
“Kitchen cabinets come in fixed sizes which often don’t exactly fit the space in your kitchen so kitchen companies tend to blank leftover gaps off. If you have a spare 10 or 20cm this can provide really useful storage, such as shelving. If you have high ceilings then make the most of the space. Put baskets on top of cabinets or put one wall cabinet on top of another to go right to the ceiling.”
“You can sometimes add in a pull out table or extra work surface. Keep work surfaces as clutter free as possible.”
“If you have space on your walls, wall mount a microwave or hang up utensils or shelves. Don’t use small mosaic tiles; it makes a space look busier. Use reflective surfaces as they bounce the light around a small space. Glass tiles give the space more depth and mirrors are great for splash backs or cupboard fronts to great effect.”
“Use similar colours for the walls, units and floors so they flow rather than jar. This means that your eye skims across the whole space and makes everything seem bigger.”
“Rather than use spotlights in the centre of a room, light the edges. Set down lighters around 10 cm from the edge of the walls to make the space seem wider.”
Yasmin Chopin, interior designer and blogger at Yasmin Chopin Interior Design, gave us her best tips for smaller dining rooms.
“Furniture that is see-through, such as a glass topped table, makes the space feel more roomy.”
“Create a cameo; arrange some of your favourite pieces on a shelf or sideboard with mirrored glass behind. Hide the corners of the room, where the walls meet the floor, by strategically placing something there; a plant is but one idea. Invite your loved ones to the party; gather all your framed photos and display them in the dining room.”
“Stretch the space visually with patterns on the walls; wide stripes can be very effective. Add life and soul with lots of reflective surfaces; anything shiny will do it, even the ceiling! A large painting or wall mural that allows you to imagine yourself travelling into it draws the eye and stimulates the imagination.”
“Focus light into the centre of the room; a pendant light above the table is ideal.”
“If you are really bold choose the darkest colour you can and decorate all round; black is perfect for making the space seem endless. If you prefer a cool chic look, such as the Scandi style, have everything in shades of white – and I mean everything!”
Liza Evans from Liza Evans Interiors gave us her best tips on decorating smaller living rooms.
“Oversized sofas and tables can make the room feel stuffed. Use furniture that is streamlined; avoid lots of cushions on sofas and armchairs. Keep to furniture with straight lines on legs, side tables etc. Sofas and chairs with low profile arms will create the illusion of more space. Choose coffee tables that double as storage space. Cupboards and shelving concealed behind flush panel doors will make the room look streamlined and recesses and alcoves are obvious places for fitted cupboards.”
“Use light neutral colours on the walls and floors to help create unity. Red has the effect of making items seem closer than they really are and blue makes them seem further away.”
“Several large pieces of artwork or ornaments will give an air of space. Use mirrors as they are wonderful for increasing the size of a space. Blinds are preferable than curtains but if you prefer curtains, make sure they are full length to give height to the room.”
“Spotlights or flush mounted ceiling fittings will help give height to room. If you have high ceilings a centre pendant light works fine. Floor lamps tend to take up less space than a side table and a lamp. Incorporating ambient lighting into the units will also save you floor space.”
Diego Correa from Diego Correa Interior Design recommends ditching the supersized beds.
“Try to have access to 3 sides of the bed. Do not be afraid of using a small or standard double bed. Ideally you should be able to incorporate 2 small bedside tables. If the room has limited space choose a small double bed and place it centred with the long side against the wall to dress as a divan with lots of cushions. Use shallow wardrobes folding your clothes as much as possible and hanging those that you can using pull-out hanging systems, floating shelves are also great for additional storage.”
“One impressive painting is enough, just make sure that the motif is not overpowering. Groupings of small frames work really well. Keep the subject matter simple; overly complex artworks will make the eye perceive the room as being smaller than it is.”
“If you have wooden flooring use planks not wider than 180mm and if it’s tile flooring no bigger than 30 x 60cm. Rectangular formats seem to look best. If you prefer to use carpet, plain solid colours would work nicely and keep patterns small.”
“Use light colours and try to use similar shades of colour. If your ceiling is very high do not paint it white, a darker colour can help bring back the human scale.”
“Down lights are preferable rather than pendant lights as they are more discreet. If you want pendant lights I suggest a horizontal design. Pendant lights or chandeliers are especially challenging if the layout of the room is irregular.”