Design dilemma: Less is more in smaller rooms

Sarah Attalah, design consultant at Ethan Allen, offers tips to help maximise your space

Sarah Attalah, design consultant at Ethan Allen
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Even if square footage is a luxury, great style doesn't have to be. Here are some simple tips for transforming small rooms into chic, comfortable spaces.

Keep a low profile. The number one rule when decorating small spaces is to choose just one or two larger pieces, rather than several smaller ones. Sizable furnishings anchor a space, creating visual proportion. Just bear in mind that bold patterns and wide silhouettes can overwhelm, so opt instead for streamlined pieces.

Send clutter into hiding. Furniture with concealed storage makes any room appear organised and, well, roomier. Perfect space-savers include beds with built-in cubbies, drum accent tables, multi-drawer coffee tables, and ottomans that flip open.

Less is definitely more. Stylish accessories such as photo frames, vases, candlesticks and horse sculptures certainly give a room personality, but it’s best to have only a few on view at any one time. This will help the room appear tranquil, but not impersonal.

Think low contrast. To create a cosy ambience, use colours from the same end of the spectrum. For example, if your overarching colour is brown, accent the room with oranges, deep reds or fuchsias, as opposed to stark neutrals.

Let there be light. Maximising lighting is essential to making a small space feel larger. A single overhead light has a tendency to make a room feel closed in, so increase your light sources and place them near walls to reflect the glow. To further spread radiance around the room, face a full-length French accent mirror in the direction of a window.

Whatever the size of your space, if you want to breath new life into your living room, this can be easily accomplished by simply sprucing up your sofa. Instantly update it by adding pillows and throws in vibrant colours and a variety of textures, to create contrast. Pick a colour from the trends of the season – tones of deep purples and lush greens.

Make all the difference in the appearance and ambience of your living room by reupholstering your sofa, or consider making a fabric slip cover instead. A new fabric will bring life to a treasured furniture piece. Also experiment by changing the location or angle of your sofa to create balance. The placement of furniture in a room is all about symmetry. You may not always be able to articulate why it feels right, but if you create symmetry, you won’t go far wrong.

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