In celebration of her new book, Your Home Your Style: How to Find Your Look & Create Rooms You Love, I teamed up with the inimitable Donna Garlough for a really fun post today. If you’re unfamiliar with Donna’s work, you’re about to have your mind blown. She is the Style Director for Joss & Main and quite the expert at providing a chic road map to finding and implementing your decorating style. Every time I come across a new design book, I always try to figure out how the tips will translate to a small space — some do, some don’t. Lucky for us though, Donna has shared her top 5 tips for small space living today! Trust me, you guys are gonna want these tips (and they are amazing even if you don’t live in a tiny house!).
Tip #1: Think of decor as a layer of the cake, not the frosting.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all had homes large enough to stage epic decorating “moments”? You know them: The giant flower arrangement on a giant foyer table, or a console table with a gargantuan mirror and lamps. When you’re space-constrained, however, “decorating” is less about filling your space with dramatic vignettes and more about choosing your essentials, like lamps and blankets, purposefully.
Tip #2: Maintain some airflow.
It can be tempting to make everything into a storage piece: Storage bed! Trunk coffee table! Storage ottomans! But a space full of heavy, opaque pieces can make it seem like the walls are closing in on you. Consider incorporating a glass coffee or end table, a Lucite console, or a chair with a lean metal base that allows you to see what’s under and beyond each item in the room.
Tip #3: Let frequency be your storage guide.
The items you do store inside furniture and cabinets and on open shelves should be arranged by how often you need to access them. Do you practice calligraphy? Keep your pens and sketchbooks out in the open! Travel weekly for work? Slide your suitcase beneath the bed where it can easily come in and out, instead of burying it under bags of sweaters. Stuff you don’t need very often (Ski parka? Your pool float collection?) should be stashed in bins or boxes that you push to the back or store way up high. The more you use an item, the more within-reach it should be.
Tip #4: Play tricks on your eyes.
What you lack in square footage you can often make up for by creating illusions of taller ceilings, bigger windows, and more floor space. The former two can often be faked with extra-long curtains, hung high above the window casing (just below the top of the wall is a good rule) and extending all the way to the floor. Use an extra-wide rod so that
open drapes hang outside the window opening, letting as much light in as possible. As for the floors, choose a rug that fills each room as much as possible. Sure, designers often recommend using multiple area rugs to define separate spaces in big, open floor plans. But in micro-sized living quarters, that can lead to a choppy, cluttered look. One big rug keeps the eye moving across the space.
Tip #5: Remember that you might not ALWAYS live in a small space.
It can be hard to imagine having more room to spread out, but whenever you make a new furniture or decor acquisition for your current home, it’s nice to think about where it might live in a bigger house. Should you go for a full bed or queen? Depends what you might want in a future guest room. Would that loveseat you’re considering for the TV area possibly work in an office or playroom some day? Sure, live for the now, but it doesn’t hurt to keep “later” in the back of your head while you’re doing it, too.
For even more inspiration, be sure to pick up a copy of Your Home Your Style: How to Find Your Look & Create Rooms You Love!
photography by Joyelle West, shared with permission.