13 Designers Share Their Go-To Small Space Decorating Solutions

updated May 19, 2021
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Credit: Marco Ricca courtesy of Megan Gorelick Interiors

Small spaces come with a unique set of decorating challenges. Along with carving out room for storage, outfitting a cramped area often requires thinking outside of the box about furniture arrangements, color palettes, and decor accents.

Fortunately, the pros have all sorts of tried-and-true tricks up their sleeves when decorating tight quarters in a home. From paint tips to wall decor ideas and more, interior designers share their go-to strategies for dressing up (and maximizing) small spaces ahead. 

Credit: Emma Beryl

1. Neutral paint colors

Simple and soothing neutral paint colors can help create the illusion of a bigger space, says interior designer Emma Beryl. “The lighter and brighter the color of your room, the larger the space will feel, because your eye is drawn into farther corners of the room, making your brain think there’s a little more space than there is,” she explains. “I love Benjamin Moore’s Cloud Cover for a small space, because it’s a light neutral that still feels rich and warm.”

Credit: Ryann Ford courtesy of Liz MacPhail Interiors

2. Double-duty furniture

Anytime you can make a single piece of furniture work more than one job in a room, you’ve mastered the art of small-space decorating, says interior designer Liz MacPhail. “In small bedrooms, such as kids’ and guest rooms, we often use a desk to double as a workspace and nightstand next to a bed,” she explains. “Our favorites are vintage finds, because they can save space and are a good way to upcycle.” 

Credit: Sean Litchfield courtesy of Roughan Interiors

3. Dark wallpaper

If you’re under the impression that dark color palettes are reserved for large spaces, interior designer Christina Roughan urges you to reconsider. “A dark space with lots of subtle contrast can add height, width, and lots of style to a small area,” she explains. “Black wallpaper with dotted platinum lines, for instance, creates depth and drama, which allows your eye to really engage in a small space.”

Credit: Kirsten Grove

4. Look up

When decorating a small space, interior designer Kirsten Grove of We Three Design Studio recommends drawing attention to the height of the room as much as possible. “Whether it’s hanging your curtain rod at the top of your wall, or displaying a large piece of art that draws the eye up in a room, adding height can immediately make a room feel larger,” she explains. “You can also add dentil moulding or crown moulding to create the feel of taller ceilings, which translates to a bigger space.”

Credit: DBF Interiors

5. Mirror magic 

A well-placed wall mirror can supply more than just a place to check your hair. According to interior designer Dominique Fluker of DBF Interiors, it can make a cramped space, such as a closet, appear bigger and brighter than it actually is. “Mirrors, like this round one from Wayfair, add depth to a small area, making it seem larger,” she explains. “They also reflect and bounce light around a room, which can help visually expand the space.” 

Credit: Marco Ricca courtesy of Megan Gorelick Interiors

6. Wall lights

A little accent lighting can go a long way in a tiny room. “Wall lights, especially sconces and picture lights, add interest and ambiance to a small space,” says interior designer Megan Gorelick. “They can also be used to create the illusion of more light and space in smaller, dimly lit spaces.”

Credit: Claire Esparros courtesy of Gala Magriñá Design

7. Closed cabinets

Too much visual clutter can make a tight area of your home seem smaller than it really is, which is why interior designer Gala Magriñá recommends concealing your storage from plain sight, if possible. “Open storage systems can often make a small space, such as an entryway, look messy and jam-packed with stuff,” she explains. “I highly recommend using a closed cabinet of some sort, like the IVAR cabinet at IKEA, so you can conceal your storage while creating more surface space in a room.” 

Credit: W. Ceglia courtesy of Billy Ceglia Design

8. Create consistency

Employing the same color in different areas of a small room creates visual cohesion that interior designer Billy Ceglia says can make a space feel more expansive. “This helps blur the edges of the space and create the feeling of more space, because your eye won’t pick up the shape contrasts that define each item in the room,” he explains. “This can be as easy as matching a paint color to your existing upholstery to achieve a seamless look.”

Credit: Theresa Ory Interiors

9. Vertical storage

If you aren’t taking advantage of wall space below your ceiling, interior designer Theresa Ory says now’s the time to start. “When installing storage solutions, we often stop shy of the ceiling and lose out on that extra two feet of potential space,” she explains. “Always go as high and close to the ceiling as possible, so you’ll have space for storing items that don’t need to be accessed daily.”

10. Open shelving

Carving out extra storage space in a tiny kitchen can be tricky, but interior designer Sarah Kennedy of CLB Architects says a few above-the-sink floating shelves can quickly solve the problem. “Open display shelving, especially for dinner and glassware, frees up cupboard space and creates a nice focal point in a small kitchen,” she explains. 

Credit: Jacob Snavely courtesy of Tina Ramchandani Creative

 11. Wall decor

If you’re scared of adding a big piece of art or wall decor to a tight space, don’t be, says interior designer Tina Ramchandani. “Smaller spaces often need more ‘things’ than larger spaces to help them feel fully designed and livable,” she explains. “For smaller spaces, I like to ensure most walls have something fun on them, such as art or a mirror — too much empty space can make it feel unfinished.” 

12. See-through furniture

Practical yet sophisticated, interior designer Jenelle Lovings says clear decor and furniture can help create the illusion of more space, because they don’t crowd up a room with visual clutter. “Too much visual weight can make a space feel smaller and cramped,” she explains. “Acrylic coffee tables and chairs are functional, but don’t take up any visual space.” 

Credit: Tiffany Rene Interior Design

13. More is more

If you ask interior designer Tiffany Cobb of Tiffany René Interior Design, making a small space feel bigger isn’t always the best idea. “One of my go-to small space decorating solutions is to just lean in on it,” she explains. “Use this opportunity to experiment with moody paint colors (Bracken Slate by Benjamin Moore is a personal favorite) and plush textures to create a cozy, intimate hideaway for yourself.”