Designing for Small Spaces: 5 Tips from a Tiny Trailer

Designing for Small Spaces: 5 Tips from a Tiny Trailer

Nancy Mitchell
Nov 21, 2011

As a youngster, I begged my parents to get an RV. I was pretty sure that having a car you could sleep and watch TV in would make us the coolest family on the block. As an adult, I am totally taken with this beautiful little trailer. It's further evidence that living in a (really really) small space doesn't mean sacrificing style. After the jump, 5 principles for decorating in small spaces, inspired by this little caravan.

This beautiful little trailer, built by Caravanolic and decorated by Viceversa, can offer many tips for decorating a small space:

1. Stick to just one color palette. If you can stand in the middle of your apartment and see everything in your apartment, then it's wise to stick to a single color concept - anything else may be overwhelming. In the trailer, a palette of black and white with blue and green accents is bright and soothing.

2. Make your furniture multi-task. Here, a desk pulls out to become a dining table; when guests leave, the additional leaf can be pushed back under the desk for extra space. Look for furniture that will work hard for you - a side chair that folds out into a guest bed, or a coffee table that lifts up into a desk.

3. Use vertical space as well as horizontal space. When designing a space, it's easy to get caught up in just planning layouts. Don't forget that your apartment is three dimensional - use every inch of wall space you can. Here, knives and utensils hang from a wall in the kitchen, cabinets above the desk provide additional storage space, and a wall-hung vanity mirror helps limit clutter in the bathroom.

4. Arrange more public uses closest to the door. Long ago in architecture school, I learned about something called the "hierarchy of privacy". It's the idea that, as you move from the entrance to a dwelling though a series of rooms, the most private rooms are in the very back. But how do you accomplish this if you only have one room? Even in a small space, there are distinct 'zones' for doing different things. Here, there's the kitchen, the dining/study area, and the bed, which is the last thing you reach as you move through the space. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but in the past I've discovered that it can makes small spaces seem more comfortable and harmonious.

5. Don't be afraid to have fun. Keeping things simple will help a small space seem uncluttered, but a house is not a home unless you fill it with things you love. I love how the ubiquitous Cole & Sons 'Woods' wallpaper adds a bit of visual interest, and the vertical stripes in the teeny tiny bathroom give you something to look at while you're taking care of business.

Images: Viceversa via Bryn Alexandra and ChicDeco.

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