How to Decorate Small Spaces

You may live in an "efficiency" apartment, you may love living in a tiny house or have plans for a Garden in a Small Space, or you may just be interested in turning a corner of your dorm room into your own little sanctuary - but how do you fit all of your stuff into such a small space? This article will give a general overview of designing and decorating tiny spaces.


  1. Image titled Decorate Small Spaces Step 1
    Evaluate your space. What will you use it for? Does it have much light, or is it dark and cozy? Will you want to incorporate multiple uses in one area? Some furniture can do double-duty: Daybeds and couches may fold out to accommodate guests and coffee tables or end tables may include shelves for your books underneath.
    • How much space do you have? Measure the perimeter of the space and chart it on graph paper. This will help you visualize how to use the space efficiently.
  2. Image titled Decorate Small Spaces Step 2
    Sketch out a design. You can either use a pencil directly on the drawing, or measure, transfer to graph paper and cut small outlines of the major items in your area - furniture, plants, storage areas, large rugs. You can then rearrange the shapes on the graph paper and tape them down when you think you like the design. If you are decorating one small corner of a larger room (like a reading nook or your half of a dorm room), decide whether you would like it to remain open to the larger space or whether you want to close it off.
  3. Image titled Decorate Small Spaces Step 3
    Choose one item as a focal point. This is a small space, so too many large or brightly-colored items can be overwhelming and feel cluttered. If you have a cozy overstuffed armchair or a large poster that you want to include in your small space, use it as the "center" of your design. Consider the color and style of the object as you gather your smaller decorations.
  4. Image titled Decorate Small Spaces Step 4
    Arrange your items. Take your paper plan and use it to rearrange or add items to the actual space. Ignore tiny decorations for now - just move the big stuff into position. Walk around in it, sit, or try the activity that the space will be used for. Is it comfortable? What is it missing?
    • Many small spaces lack storage. Does yours? If so, consider using furniture that doubles as a storage area. Ottomans may open to store cozy blankets; bookshelves can house shoe boxes, plastic containers or baskets.
  5. Image titled Decorate Small Spaces Step 5
    Add final touches. Use small splashes of color on larger neutral backgrounds - for example, coordinate a plain brown chair with a brightly patterned pillow, or use the color of your favorite throw in a small framed print or knick-knack on the bookshelf. Use clusters of both large and small objects as secondary focal points. A small amount of a bright color can draw you in and give the illusion of a much larger area.


  • Incorporate up lighting. Up lights makes a room taller and therefore gives the illusion of more space.
  • Use multifunctional furniture pieces (for example: a stool that function as a storage box as well)
  • Decorations in a small space should follow a simple rule: If it's not beautiful and it's not functional, it doesn't belong there. Minimize decoration and use it to create secondary focal points rather than clutter.
  • Mirrors make a room look larger. Place a mirror opposite a light source to reflect more light into the space and give the illusion of a much larger area.
  • Avoid too much dark color, unless you like the feeling of being in a cave. White and bright colors can make the space look large, while dark colors make it feel smaller and "cozy" (or claustrophobic, depending on your point of view).
  • Sets of 3 (3 pillar candles of varying heights, 3 picture frames grouped on a wall, a triangular design with chair, lamp, and bookcase at the 'points' of the triangle) are a standard decorative touch; they will make the room look 'full' without clutter, while single decorations look more minimal and clean.
  • Use height! Tall bookshelves, hanging plant baskets, loft beds with storage or a desk under them... there are many great ways to add to a room without using more precious floor space. Wall-mounted shelves can provide more storage above chairs or beds.
  • Separate larger spaces by using furniture (place the furniture with the back toward the larger space to create the illusion of half or full walls), screens, or lighting. Hang curtains to adjust sunlight in your space, use small area lights instead of the larger room light, or hang strings of party lights around your space.


  • Clutter is bad. If you can't find a space to put something, consider how much it's worth to keep it. Can you deal with keeping all of your books, if that means shoving another bookshelf into an already-cramped bedroom? You can get rid of old or unwanted items by using freecycle, craigslist, or your local thrift shop.

Sources and Citations

  • "Interior Design Superpowers for Everyone - 6 steps to your dream home", 2011, ISBN 978-90-817092-1-7

Article Info

Categories: Bedroom Style