Add Wow to Your Walls, Even in a Tiny Space

published Sep 14, 2017
(Image credit: Ronda Smith)

There’s a well-known paradox when it comes to wall decor: the smaller the home, the bigger the challenge. When you’re working with a tiny space, choosing the wrong paint color can make everything claustrophobic. Picking too many patterns makes it way too busy. Small spaces are surprisingly full of complications.

Some of us have learned this the hard way, but you don’t have to. During our recent refresh of the original Apartment Therapy apartment, we hit many hazards for teeny-tiny home decorating. The good news is that those hazrads unearthed several guidelines to address them. One is how important wall style becomes in a small space. Learn from our learnings.

(Image credit: Ronda Smith)

1. Go Light and Bright With a Mirror

It pretty much goes without saying, but lighter colors just work better in smaller spaces with limited natural light. So if you’re going with artwork, lean towards the lighter side and pick pieces that have negative space. An even smarter choice is to use that real estate on an interesting mirror. It will reflect light and help make the room look bigger while giving your eye an “escape” from the room like a window would.

Since small spaces require their pieces to be form and function, find one that can both performs its job as a mirror and becomes a sculptural statement piece, like the orbit small round mirror. It’s small enough for even the tiniest of rooms but still big on style.

(Image credit: Ronda Smith)

2. Go Bold…Just Not Too Big

Even in a tiny space you can get away with bold artwork or a bright pop of color if you want. In fact, one very bold piece becomes a stately exclamation point, cavalier toward everything you thought about small spaces. The key here is to pick a piece that’s the right size and ideally has some “breathing room” (i.e., negative space) within the frame. The piece above, “safe at third,” by North Carolina artist Kent Youngstrom and available at CB2, is a good example of active negative space.

Do keep in mind, though, that any bright or bold artwork will inevitably become a “statement piece” when displayed on its own. So if this becomes your approach, make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

(Image credit: Ronda Smith)

3. Think in Thirds to Create a Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are great, but they can quickly get out of hand size-wise if you let them. The general rule of thumb designers abide by when deciding just how much wall area should be filled with art is ⅔ to ¾ of the total wall space. Even though large gallery walls tend to break this rule and can (sometimes) get away with it, you’ll want to adhere to it in tiny spaces to avoid the risk of over-cluttering. So, divide your wall into thirds and try to leave at least ⅓ of it open after the whole thing is installed. Also, since every inch counts, take into account any furniture, lighting or curtains that may be sharing the same wall space and build your gallery around them.

Making the gallery wall even simpler, CB2 has recently partnered with the gallery wall pros at Framebridge. The collaboration offers a varied collection of art from emerging and established artists in high-quality frames in a variety of sizes and finishes. The three prints in the picture above are (from the top right) “bass harbor” by Amber Vittoria, and “makeup is art” and “city bike blues,” both by Leslee Mitchell.

This post is sponsored by CB2 and was created by Apartment Therapy’s Creative Studio.
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