15 Tips on How to Decorate Small Spaces

Saffron Marigold - Updated: July 29, 2022

For apartment dwellers and studio occupants, learning how to decorate small spaces is obligatory. This skill is an important one, though, even for homeowners who may be blessed with lots of space. Perhaps you want to restore your small patio lost to storage boxes or revamp your small guest bedroom that’s been sitting unused for years. Here, we’ll prove that small spaces don’t have to be restricted to an “only necessities” decoration approach. We’ll uncover 15 new ways to decorate small spaces, including making use of bright, colorful linens and other pieces brimming with personality.

How to decorate small spaces ideas

First, let’s throw out the idea that small spaces need to be all-white or skimpy on decor. As long as we follow the three basic principles below, small spaces can look luxurious.

  • Keep your theme and colors cohesive
  • Use multipurpose or foldable furniture when possible
  • Maximize natural light and introduce ambient lighting

How to decorate small living room spaces

The living room leaves a lasting impression on visitors, but more importantly, it’s where the family spends most of their shared time. It should bring joy and be conducive to leisure. Knowing how to decorate small living room spaces may be counterintuitive, but the results will leave you feeling reassured.

1. Dress windows with light, sheer curtains

Plenty of light will make small spaces appear larger, and sheer curtains let light in while maintaining privacy. While lighter-colored curtains are a reflexive choice, any sheer curtain panel that blends in with your wall or matches your existing decor will do a fine job at making your living room feel more spacious.

Source: Saffron Marigold customer, Mary

One of our lovely customers from Newburyport, Massachusetts shared this gorgeous photo of their living room featuring our Celestial Embrace sheer curtain panels. The choice of white and gold harmonize with Mary’s natural-toned living room decor, and the sheer panels blend into the white window frames and blinds, creating a seamless look that feels light and airy.

Shop Sheer Curtain Panels

2. Leave space between furniture and walls

You might be tempted to push everything against the wall to carve out as much space as possible in the middle, but try to leave at least 10 inches between large furniture and walls. Additionally, keep your coffee table about 14 inches away from your sitting surface. This is enough space to make items easy to retrieve from the table without your furniture appearing cramped.

Wayfair

Round Arm Loveseat

Amazon

Mid-Century Loveseat

Small furniture such as a loveseat or two generous armchairs is a fine alternative to L-shaped or four-seater couches that may not be proportional to a small living room.

3. Choose multifunctional pieces

Coffee tables and ottomans with secret storage, futons, expandable tables, and floating chairs all have dual purposes. These multipurpose units will serve you better than purely decorative furnishings.

Wayfair

Menzies Ottoman With Storage

Amazon

Lift Top Coffee Table With Storage

It’s easy to find functional pieces with charm, though you might need to hunt for them one at a time, ensuring that each coordinates with your overarching theme.

How to decorate small bathroom spaces

Already, most bathrooms are tight on space compared to other rooms in the home. Luckily, you can indulge in deluxe items for the bathroom since it is so small. Best of all, most design rules are suspended in this small space—let your imagination fly high!

4. Hang up your shower curtain and window curtains high

Draw the eyes up by installing your shower curtain or window curtain near the ceiling. The floor-to-ceiling look is especially effective if you’re covering up small window frames that can block off your bathroom. This illusion also tricks the eye into thinking there is more space by covering a larger surface area compared to a short, solid-color curtain, for instance.

Source: Saffron Marigold customer, KellyAnn

This warm and cozy bathroom design is courtesy of another one of our customers, KellyAnn from Minnetonka, Minnesota. Not only is the shower curtain hung high, but Mary coordinates the energizing print with a rusty orange rug and toilet cove, plus a matching fabric swatch to drape over the water tank.

Shop Shower Curtains

5. Deconstruct the vanity

Freestanding sink-vanity combos may be taking up precious space in your bathroom. Instead, try a floating sink or floating vanity. Wall-mounted shelves will also free up floor space, and you will still have enough room for your toiletries, plants, and decorative items.

Faucet Direct

Single Vanity Set

Amazon

White and Gold Floating Shelf

If remodeling isn’t in your plans, don’t fret! Narrow and tall shelves or console tables can also provide you with more storage opportunities while preserving walking space.

6. Choose reflective finishes

Install glass doors, large mirrors, glazed tiles, and shiny wallpaper where possible. Reflective surfaces bounce light back into the room, making a small bathroom appear expansive. Metallic finishes are also preferred for the same reason.

Lamps Plus

Euro Design Vanity Accent Mirror

Saffron Marigold

Vanilla Glace Curtain Panels

Pictured above is a Saffron Marigold customer’s bathroom featuring Vanilla Glace curtain panels. What we also appreciate here is the glass door that lets the room flow, even with a regular-sized bathtub and accent chair.

How to decorate small kitchen and dining spaces

The tricky part in decorating smaller kitchen and dining areas is how to optimize storage and functionality while sticking to your theme. That said, bold and beautiful prints and patterns are highly encouraged!

7. Beautify all surfaces

Even if you’re short on traditional space (floors, walls), you can still express your personality through other means. Decorate your dining table or kitchen bar with a vibrant table cloth or table runner. Cover large appliances such as your refrigerator with a vinyl decal, or create an accent wall with waterproof, DIY wallpaper.

Source: Saffron Marigold customer, Cynthia

Loyal Saffron Marigold customer Cynthia shared this beautiful tablescape with us featuring the Moonlit Taj rectangular tablecloth complemented by quirky green serveware and a lush centerpiece of potted flowers. Thank you, Cynthia, for showing us when we pay attention to details, any size dining area will shine.

Shop Table Linens

8. Designate an eating area with a large area rug

If you want to section off your dining set, consider a large area rug that anchors your table and chairs. Colorful rugs completely transform any dining space and they can be coordinated with your table linens or curtains.

Ruggable

Floral Medallion Multicolor Rug

Ruggable

Outdoor Campo Multicolor Rug

You might layer two rugs for extra cushion and texture. Pair multicolor rugs with a plain, stainproof rug perfect for a busy kitchen.

9. Go long with vertical lines

When choosing curtains and wall treatments, consider ones with vertical designs and orientations. This guides the eye up instead of focusing on the short width of the room. In the same vein, install vertical decor such as hanging fruit bowls and hanging pendants.

Light in the Box

LED Pendant Flower Shaped Light

Crate and Barrel

Batten White Oak Back Panel

Curtains that boast vertical lines can also be employed to direct the eye up. If it’s extra storage space you’re after, install cabinets above and below counters with vertical paneling or patterns.

How to decorate small bedrooms

Note that the average bedroom in a US home is about 200 square feet, but this number varies between suburbs and cities. For apartments, this figure may be closer to 132 square feet.

  • To comfortably fit a twin bed into a room, the room should be at least 80 square feet, especially if you’re planning to incorporate other pieces such as a dresser or a desk.
  • To comfortably fit a queen bed into a room, the room should be about 100 square feet. However, don’t let this deter you if you’re working with a smaller room—you just have to get creative with wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted furniture and under-the-bed storage.

10. Put the spotlight on your bed

Naturally, the star of the show in your sleep space should be your bed. Position your bed at the center of the room and create a symmetric arrangement. Or, push your bed against a wall if you want to create a separate workspace/sitting space. Splurge on luxury linens with bold, colorful patterns that add visual interest.

Source: Saffron Marigold customer, Ganathamritananda

Curtain panels can be put to use as bed curtains for a royal treatment that emphasizes your bed. Pictured here is Saffron Marigold’s Orange Blossom curtain panel, beautifully styled by a customer from Virginia. A multicolor rug, off-white-and orange chest cover, and red accents throughout the room tie this elegant bedroom to Orange Blossom’s warm hues.

Shop Bed Linens

11. Install wall lights

If you want to save space by removing nightstands on either side of the bed, you can still achieve a traditional look (and provide ample lighting) by installing wall-mounted lights.

West Elm

Sculptural Glass Shade

Rejuvenation

Traditional 2-Light Sconce

12. Match your curtains to your wall color

Like in the bathroom, you might install your curtains higher up on the wall, almost touching the ceiling, to create height and drama. On the other hand, allow your curtains to harmonize with the rest of the room by choosing patterns that match the wall color surrounding your windows.

Source: Saffron Marigold customer, Deborah

Warm and bright, Shimmering Goldstone is perfect for livening up the living room. Here, one of our customers Deborah from St. Augustine, Florida, chose this rusty, spice orange curtain panel to complement her orange wall—a combination that ensures there are no visual breaks that might make the room look smaller.

How to decorate small patio spaces

You might wonder how you can decorate small patio spaces beyond your typical wicker furniture set and sun shade. Good news: small outdoor spaces don’t need to be elaborate to be visually and functionally successful. We can apply our key strategies from indoor design to the outdoors—cohesion, multipurpose furniture, and use of both vertical and horizontal space.

13. Provide enough seating—plus comfortable cushions and pillows

Benches, ottoman poufs, and garden chairs are all suitable choices for patios. Ensure that everyone in the family has a spot, and make your sitting area more comfortable with movable cushions, pillows, and throws. The great thing about pillows and cushions compared to built-in cushions is that you can easily take them indoors to prevent weather damage.

Shop Pillow Covers

14. Choose multi-use stools that double as tables

Garden stools are a favorite for decorating small patio spaces. They’re easy to move around, and they can be used as a serving surface for refreshments or extra seating for guests.

Urban Outfitters

Mila Scallop Ceramic Stool

Anthropologie

Griffin Ceramic Stool

During winter and rainy seasons, take garden stools inside to cheer up a living room or bedroom. Ceramics, woven materials, and leather are all stylish choices for a garden stool.

15. Incorporate vertical elements like lights, hanging planters, and curtains

Lastly, make use of vertical space with greenery or string lights. You might even install curtains to achieve extra privacy or extra sun protection.

Holistic Habitat

Rainbow Ceramic Hanging Planter

Birddog Lighting

Incandescent Wall Light Curtain

No space to hang anything? Floor lanterns, freestanding plant pots, and plant stands are just as impressive to decorate your small patio space.