Furnishing and Decorating Small Spaces (10 Practical Tips)

Small spaces run the gamut from reeaaally tiny houses (like the tiny house trend), to small houses, to one room in a larger home that is space challenged.

And while some people consciously choose them, others may feel “stuck” when decorating small spaces.

Whatever the case, most can benefit from tips to help them look and function better, so we’re outlining 10 proven tips for you to try.

Decorating Small Spaces:

1. Start With A Plan

If you follow our blog you’ve definitely heard “start with a plan” more than once, but it’s so important, especially in small spaces where every inch counts.

It does take extra time to plan, but will end up saving you time, money and frustration in the long run. (You can find tips on that here.)

2. Use Every Inch

As you’re planning ideas for decorating small spaces, analyze every area – could it be used differently than originally intended?  Is there a potential for more storage?  Can you design it to multi-task?

In the example below, the closet not only works great as an office area, but the doors can be closed when not in use to hide any clutter.   The desk chair can rotate around and be used for additional seating in the family room.


3. Let It Breathe

Furniture pieces that are open on the bottom (unskirted or not solid to the floor) can be used to help free up more visual space.

Depending on how much furniture is in the space and how leggy the pieces are, you may need to to balance this furniture with at least one or two solid pieces to keep things from getting too busy.

decorating small spaces doesn't need to be difficult - love these tips!
chair | ottoman |sofa

4. Go Vertical

Remember that the floor isn’t the only available space in the room. Maximize vertical space by using tricks like tall storage furniture, placing art vertically, and hanging window treatments higher than the windows to add height.

sofa | end table | display cabinet

5. Scale Furniture To Fit The Space

Furniture in a small space doesn’t need to be tiny  (we know that you can even use a sectional when you’re decorating small spaces, but it should be scaled appropriately  – think clean and simple, not over scaled or overstuffed.

Many times fewer, relatively larger, pieces work better than a lot of small pieces, and will make the space appear larger.

6. Use Mirrors

Mirrors will visually double the size of any space you put them in and will also reflect the light and add some sparkle, which is a plus in any space!

7. Multitask

Look for furniture that can perform more than one task such as coffee tables or ottomans with storage (or that will accommodate baskets or bins for storage), a sofa that folds out into a bed, beds with storage, a desk that doubles as a sofa table, a dining table that also works as a desk…  You get the idea.

Grouping tables and stools is a current trend that also lends itself well to a small space – group together as a coffee table, then easily split them apart for other uses.

When you're decorating small spaces choose furniture that can multitask

 8. Limited Color Palette and Minimal Contrast

Whether you choose bold color or soft neutrals, using a limited color palette, as well as minimizing contrast between the walls and larger upholstered pieces, lends to a more expansive feeling in the space.

This idea works great for one room, but is also a good way to create flow, a sense of cohesiveness, and a larger feeling throughout a small home.

Country Classic | Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles:

 9. Light is good

There are at least three ways to use light to your advantage in a small space.

  • WINDOWS help keep a small space from feeling closed in, so use them to your advantage!  Use minimal window treatments so as not to block the available natural light.  Consider adding a window, if possible, in a space where there are none.
  • WALLS painted white or a lighter color reflect more light and create an airy feel in the space.
  • LAMPS are important to accommodate tasks and create ambiance.   Since there may not always be room for tables to place lamps, make use of walls sconces and floor lamps in spaces where you need additional lighting

Mix and match dining - use a bench:

10. Contain the Clutter

When there’s not much space to work with, clutter can get out of hand in a hurry and make your small space less than enjoyable to be in.

Take advantage of storage furniture, baskets, bins, and closets to create a system for organization.

Pick and Choose Your Methods

None of the previous 10 are “rules”.  Instead, they’re proven methods that are known to help.

Since decorating tastes vary and each small space is different, pick and choose which one(s) might work for your space.


For more small space inspiration, check out our Small Space Decorating and Design page!


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5 Responses to Furnishing and Decorating Small Spaces (10 Practical Tips)

  1. Natalie September 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Thanks PK! The small office space under the stairs is very well thought out and I love how they used full scale bi-fold doors to cover the space. I would not have thought of bringing the doors over that angled area to define the space as a full closet when the doors are closed!


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