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5 expert-approved small space decorating ideas

By Emma Smith

Article by Lauren Powell   14 FEB 2019

As many of us occupy pint-sized pads these days, the task of decorating said small space is a challenge that a lot of us have encountered. 

While it’s common to assume you should be opting for smaller styles, simpler finishes and lesser items, you in fact should be doing the contrary.

We enlisted the expertise of some of the country’s most renowned interior experts who revealed their secrets to making the most of every valuable square metre.

int: Bigger and bolder is better.

This is how to live large in your petite abode.

Neale Whitaker, TV presenter and columnist

“My number one tip for a small space is to Think Big! Like small dogs, small spaces don’t know they’re small spaces, so treat them as if they’re not. Nothing makes a small space feel smaller than downsizing everything to fit — I call it the ‘doll’s house effect’ — so go as big as the proportions of the room will allow.

“A few large items will work much better than several small ones and will trick the eye into thinking the room is larger. Opt for the biggest sofa or chairs you can fit, one large artwork (or even better, a mirror), a large lamp and a rug. And don’t push everything back against the wall. Let things breathe.”

Neale Whitaker tells you to think BIG. Picture: Neale Whitaker

Juliet Love, interior stylist and founder of Love Style

“In a small space, it is important not to overcrowd the room. Keep furniture and decorative items clean and minimal, and create separate zones within the room,” Juliet says.

A rug separates this lounge area from the rest of the space. Picture: Jamberoo Valley Farm

“For example, if you have a small combined kitchen and lounge room, place a rug on the floor in the sitting area to delineate it from the dining area. And don’t fall into the trap of having to use all white walls and tiny furniture; a room full of small items will make the room seem smaller.

“It’s best to select furniture that is normal in size, but has a low profile so as not to interrupt the line of sight around the room. Screens or hanging curtains to create new spaces also work well.”

Juliet Love believes in keeping furniture and decorative items clean and minimal. Picture: Juliet Love

Greg Natale, designer

“Challenge the rules — bold patterning doesn’t always make a small space feel smaller,” Greg says.

Greg Natale challenges the rules. Picture: Greg Natale

“I used my bold stripes wallpaper on this small apartment in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Rather than constricting the space, it had the effect of giving limitless space by drawing the pattern across and up the wall while enhancing the ceiling height and the wall length. Tricks like this can be cost effective and make a real design statement.”

The bold stripes in this small apartment draws the pattern across and up the wall, making it seem larger. Picture: Anson Smart, Design: Greg Natale

Keeley Baird, co-founder and interior designer, Something More Design

“When it comes to designing small spaces, lighting can be your best friend. A lot of the time the reason a space can look so small is because of the way the light is hitting the room — especially in a space that has minimal natural light.”

The wall sconce reflects light both up and down the wall, making it seem grander in size. Picture: Keeley Baird

One of the best ways to enhance a space is by the use of wall sconces. If a room is not only small in size, but also low in ceiling height, using a wall sconce that reflects light both up and down the wall will make the room seem grander in size.”

Lighting can be your best friend, says Keeley Baird. Picture: Keeley Baird

Camilla Ingall, senior stylist, Evolve

“When designing and styling for small spaces, my number one tip would be to accentuate light into the room. The addition of a mirror is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a room appear larger,” Camilla says.

Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room feel bigger. Picture: Skyline Creative

“Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter as well as making it feel bigger.

“Another way to achieve this is to opt for a lighter and more neutral colour scheme. Light colours help natural light to bounce off the walls, compared to dark tones that absorb light and can make an area feel more closed.”

Camilla Ingall’s number one tip is to accentuate light in a room. Picture: Camilla Ingall

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