Do you remember the game M.A.S.H. from when you were a kid?
Mansion, Apartment, Shack, or House? Any time I see one of those cleverly folded origami marvels, it makes me smile.
Now that we’re all grown up, sadly, we do not all live in mansions. Or castles, if you’re in Europe, as I’ve heard that everyone lives in castles there (thank you Eddie Izzard for that one).
It’s not always a matter of money. Many of us choose to live conservatively for several reasons, and it is always very important to live to the scale that is right for you and your family.
Myself, I have lived in more modest-sized homes most of my life. The smallest was a 400 sq ft. 2 bed, 1 bath carriage house in Savannah, GA that is still one of the favorite places that I’ve lived.
I remember the way the rain hit the louvered windows, and the smell of the paneling when it was hot. And it was always hot. It was perfect for my lifestyle at the time. I could keep it clean, I had an office, and the kitchen and living room were just right for one person.
There are unique challenges to living small.
And, when it comes to decorating, here’s a list of 6 factors to keep in mind as you turn that shack into your own mini-mansion. The only thing left will be where to put the 10 kids that you’ll be having with your 7th-grade crush. 🙂
1. Make Everything Count
Small living is deliberate living. Like many aspects of choosing to live in smaller spaces, everyday choices about what we put into our lives and bodies become conscious decisions.
Why not curate the personal items we use at home? Go ahead and get the adorable tea kettle with the bold floral print. It will make your afternoon tea that much tastier.
By mindfully adding to our living space we elevate our daily living experience. Surrounding ourselves with colors and textures that bring us joy can change how we take on our day.
When wall space is at a premium, the art we put on our walls becomes more important to the look and feel of our home. The same goes for all the typical embellishments to our spaces. Any rugs, throws, accent pillows, candles, vases, trays, etc. become a larger reflection of the mood and feelings we want to project.
2. Deliberate Use of Color
In smaller dwellings, to give a sense of more space and flow from room to room, it is important to choose an overall color palette.
Especially when your walls can’t be altered, this can be done with your accessories. There are three color schemes that achieve a harmonious feel from room to room in a small home.
A single color scheme, where just one accent color is used repeatedly and in very specific ways, is the first and simplest.
The next option is to use a monochromatic scheme, which is using one color in various levels of saturation from light to dark.
Lastly, you can use a completely neutral palette of cream, brown, grey, and/or black in which the textures and materials used are the focus. This works well if you bring in different materials such as wood, metal, stone, and glass to add interest.
However, don’t be fooled, a neutral palette can be one of the hardest to do well, as the details are what counts most.
3. Choose Simple Shapes and Lines
In order to achieve a unified feel to the entire space, be sure to use repeating lines and shapes. Along with the color choices, this gives a subtle continuity to each room.
Straight lines, waves, diamonds, and circles are just some of the simple shapes you can repeat in the overall shapes and patterns of the items you choose.
4. Everything Has Purpose and a Place
Prevent your decorating from becoming cluttered by being mindful of where an item is going and what use or purpose it will serve.
Just because something is useful, doesn’t mean it needs to be exclusively functional. It can be beautiful too.
If you need a toaster, find one that is in the color scheme you’ve chosen as a fun accent in your kitchen space.
The opposite is true of beautiful pieces. Instead of a bunch of pretty candles that you’ll probably never light, why not use a great set of stacking boxes to store and organize items that you use regularly, but don’t want lying around?
5. Be Mindful of Scale
When decorating in a smaller space, it becomes vital to be considerate of the size and scale of the items that are brought in.
While a regular sofa is typically 86” long, an apartment sofa is around 78” and can make a real difference. A track arm on a chair or sofa does make for a smaller sofa as well and doesn’t take away from the actual cushion size.
Furniture with legs will also allow your eye to travel. Taller case goods can take advantage of high ceilings and will draw your eye up.
A room can also feel larger by using one large-scale piece of art to decorate a wall versus using several smaller pieces. Window treatments can draw the eye up and give a room more visual height too.
6. Less is More
In every design, especially smaller living spaces, it is always best to keep things simple if you want to maximize the size of a room.
Try to keep flat surfaces clean and organized. Using a tray to corral smaller items is an easy way to accomplish this.
Items that are used less often should be stored away or in containers. Using multiples of the same style of container can create visual rhythm and keep a large collection looking neat.
With these ideas in mind as you decorate your small space, you will be sure to optimize what you have without compromising on style. If this still seems too daunting, feel free to reach out about a consultation. I would be happy to share my expertise and personal experience in working with small spaces for your next project.