6 Major Dos and Don’ts of Decorating a Tiny House

published Dec 20, 2018
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If you compulsively follow #TinyHouse and #TinyLiving on social media or consider yourself a full-fledged follower of the Tiny House Movement, it can be easy to forget that tiny houses aren’t just a social media phenomenon. It can be hard to remember that people actually live in these teeny, tiny spaces. Truth is, it can be a wonderful way to have the house of your dreams—without spending a fortune.

Of course, tiny houses aren’t all Instagram likes and easy, breezy living. Not only do you have figure out how to fit an entire home’s worth of stuff into 500 square feet or less, but you also have to make sure it looks nice.

At Apartment Therapy, we’ve talked about how to organize a tiny house, but decorating? Now that’s another story. To help, we asked two tiny house experts to share their dos and don’ts for designing a tiny house. Pssst… these tips can work for your small apartment, too.

1. Do Scale Up in a Tiny House

When it comes to decorating your tiny house or small space, less is more.

“In a small space, I almost always find that having a single, larger statement item on display instead of several smaller options is usually more attractive,” says Whitney Leigh Morris, author and founder of The Tiny Canal Cottage. “It reduces visual clutter, and keeps an area looking airy and open.”

Instead of showing off a set of six wine glasses on your kitchen counter, Morris recommends opting to display a carafe or decanter, then organize the glasses within a cabinet.

2. Don’t Get Something Unless You Really Need It

We’re all guilty of buying something we think we’ll use but actually don’t. You know, that fancy cast-iron pan you purchased when you were convinced you’d become the next Ina Garten? Or the IKEA bookcase you bought two years ago that’s still in its box? Hey, it happens!

Those impulse buys may be no big deal when you have a glorious two-bedroom apartment, but it can create some major clutter in a tiny house.

“If you build it, you will fill it,” says Jenna Spesard of Tiny House Giant Journey. “Don’t build shelves and cabinets unless you KNOW for sure you need them. Otherwise they create clutter and will make you want to buy things with which to fill them. Wait until you live in your house for some time before adding unnecessary storage.”

If you’re not sure whether you’ll actually use the furniture or accessory in question, sleep on it. Don’t worry, it’ll still be in your e-cart come morning.

3. Do Use a Lighter Color Palette

“Use white or light color paint on your walls,” Spesard says. “Painted wall panels can also lead your eye to a focal point, creating length in your space.”

Not sure which white paint you should choose? We have a couple ideas…

4. Don’t Block the Few Windows

There’s only so much air circulation in a tiny house, so the last thing you want to do is block the heater or air conditioning unit.

“In a tiny home, there are only so many options for furniture placement,” Morris says. “But, if possible, find—or better yet, custom build!—furnishings and accessories that can work around your windows, ensuring that you maximize the light and airflow within your compact quarters.”

Of course, these spaces are a far cry from spacious, so placing your furniture a few inches away from your window is a good compromise.

5. Do Find Pieces That Pull Double Duty

Just because your space is small doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. For a tiny house that packs a punch, pick up furniture and accessories that marry form and function.

“Accents such as filing cabinets and shoe racks can be epic eye sores in a small space,” Morris recommends.”If and when you need to bring organizational pieces into your tiny home, consider stylish items that can function beyond their intended purpose.”

For example, Morris recommends trading in your nylon pop-up hamper for a beautiful woven basket or plastic file cart for a rustic wine crate.

6. Don’t Forget To Think Vertically

Decorating a tiny house? The only way to go is up. Not only does designing vertically create the illusion of a clean, clutter-free space, but it can also trick guests into thinking your home is bigger.

“Store items high and low, and out of the eye-line to make spaces seem bigger,” Spesard says.

Take advantage of the space underneath your bed and couch, and install a hanging pot holder in your kitchen.