Decorating in small spaces


New from our guest, Sarah McDaniel:

Decorating in Small Spaces

My first apartment out of college was shared with 4 other roommates off of 7th/11th in New York.   My room was a “sleeping loft” which sounds charming but in actuality it was a space approx. 3’ high and I climbed a ladder to access it.   Eventually I graduated to bigger small spaces; however 10 years in New York perfected my ability to decorate a small space!

I’ll share with you 2 rules that will go a long way in creating a beautiful and functional space – accessorize and seek out multifunctional pieces.

1) Accessorize Your Space

While there are some color palettes that may help a small space appear larger; I’m more of a believer in decorating in colors that you love, colors that make you feel home….if for no other reason, in a small space you’re confined to possibly a room or 2, so you need to love the color.

I tend to focus more on a few accent pieces (I said a few – as with everything else, editing is key).   Use accent pieces as you would jewelry – to add interest, possibly color, to draw the eye and possibly create conversation.   It could be a beautiful vintage coffee table book in a striking color, a throw in an unexpected color or a vase that inspires you to keep it full with fresh flowers.   If you need inspiration to accessorize, don’t just look on home décor sites…check out the fashion pages of Pinterest and Polyvore!  I decorated an apartment once based on a season’s trend of deep purples, pinks and emeralds inspired by a Vogue layout of shoes and bags.

Accessorizing on an otherwise neutral palette also affords you the chance to change it up based on the seasons and trends – you can easily change out accent pillows and throws for a quick update!

2) Multi-functional Pieces

The cardinal rule of decorating a small space is to find items that serve dual purpose – form and function or fashion and function.   If you’re short on storage, every coffee table, end table, bookshelf or nightstand is an opportunity to solve this problem. Seek out good looking storage cubes or baskets (careful with the baskets, keep them sleek looking) that you can slide under your coffee table or onto the shelves of your bookcase.   You can also buy risers for your bed that give you twice as much storage space (and it’s hidden so that storage boxes don’t have to be as nice if you don’t want).

floor pillowIn my tiny Jr 1 bedroom (that’s NY real estate speak for “big studio”) I had a loveseat as a sofa and 2 barstools to start with. The more I wanted to entertain, though, the more I needed seating options that could be tucked away when I didn’t have company.  Floor pillows/cushions are the best bet for this and can be kept under the coffee table or casually tossed in a corner when not in use.  You as the host/hostess of course should be the first to volunteer to take this as your seat when you have company!

Another result of my frequent entertaining led me to want to graduate to a bar cart that could also keep limited cabinet space clear for everyday dishes.  When done right, bar carts can be equal parts fashion and function, especially if you invest in “grown up” barware and accoutrements.  Bar carts are easily found in various styles at Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn – although depending on your style you might want to seek out something vintage as it makes an interesting conversation piece.   Now, if you’re in a super small space, you can use the top of the bar cart for more functional pieces like a TV or microwave.

Happy decorating!

Sarah McDaniel –