You’re probably wondering how it’s possible for small spaces to look unbelievably drool-worthy in Pinterest and Instagram. How can you keep a space immaculately organized?
Your guess is just as good as mine, but for sure, designing a small space is not impossible to achieve. It does, however, require a huge amount of creativity and forethought. So where and how do you get started?
The seven principles of interior design is a good starting point. A master’s degree is not necessary to understand these seven concepts, although in some places, you might need to get one if you make a career out of interior design.
However, for the purpose of designing a personal space with limited square footage—a house, an apartment, or a condominium unit—understanding how balance, scale and proportion, rhythm, emphasis, contrast and variety, and unity and harmony come into play will take you far.
This guide will touch on those seven topics and then some. Have fun decorating!
There’s no shortage of design inspiration these days, which can either work for you or against you. To make the most of available resources, start with a vision.
Know what feels good to you and what actually works for you, considering your needs, your family’s routine, and your lifestyle. Finally, make a vision board and see how everything fits together.
MEASURE THE SPACE YOU DO HAVE
Get yourself a measurement tool. Much of your success in decorating or designing any space is largely dependent on your ability to wield a measurement tool. This is self-explanatory, but to put it in perspective, if your living room can only hold a loveseat, don’t buy a bulky sectional sofa.
Will a round dining table work better than a rectangular one? Will a built-in media center with lots of storage overwhelm your living area? Do you have space for a family command center in your kitchen?
Measuring the space you do have will answer these questions and more. Whether you spend more on a digital tape measure or settle for its affordable steel counterpart, it doesn’t matter. Measure your space, take notes, and don’t forget to measure the items you plan to purchase too.
SET A BUDGET
Bills can pile up quickly when you’re renovating or decorating. Many homemakers, and even professional interior designers, have fallen into the trap of overindulging their wants and wishes, which caused bills to skyrocket.
Nobody wants that, of course, but resisting purchases is easier said than done especially if you don’t set a budget and work within your limit.
Know your priorities then, determining where the chunk of your budget should go, what items you’re willing to splurge on, and what you’re willing to save up.
There are many ways to augment your budget too, like holding a garage sale for one, repurposing old but usable items, and scouring thrift stores. If you’re game to flex some muscles, go ahead and DIY items off your list.
At the end of the day, knowing what is feasible for you will help you achieve your home goals without raking in excessive debts.
PLAY WITH SCALE AND PROPORTION AND AIM FOR BALANCE
Whether you’re dealing with color, texture, furniture, or tiny knickknacks, balance is key to achieving a well-designed space. Balance is a foundational concept in interior design (and life in general, really).
A space will feel off without balance, because the mind will have to exert more effort to understand the space.
To achieve symmetry, elements must be distributed properly in a given space. When designing a living room, for example, where a couch is the focal point, furniture around the couch must not compete with it. Instead, surrounding decors must complement the heaviness of the couch.
When hanging wall decors, everything must be distributed symmetrically so one side doesn’t look more crowded or barer than the rest.
Scale, on the other hand, is how big or small a certain object is in relation to a space and the other objects in that space. When space is at a premium, think big, go big. If that sounds counterintuitive to you, it’s because the usual knee-jerk reaction to small spaces are small furnishings. But too much stuff, especially small ones, can become visual clutter.
Be bold and don’t be afraid to go big in a small space.
USE CONTRAST AND VARIETY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Contrast and variety make a space striking and lived-in. Without both, a space will feel flat. Luckily, there are many ways to use these two important interior design principles, color and texture being the most obvious.
Colors affect the energy of a space. A minimalist or a Scandinavian-themed home will look more inviting with a touch of color here and there. Use the 60-30-10 rule as a guide when deciding on your color scheme.
This means, the dominant shade will take 60 percent of the space while the secondary color, 30 percent. The 10 percent accent color is the boldest shade.
Using different-textured materials is another prime example of achieving contrast and variety. When used property, wood, glass, steel always work like a charm next to each other. The same with different-textured throw pillows on your sofa.
CURATE ACCESSORIES FOR EMPHASIS
Accessories are meant to add interest and depth to a space. Unfortunately, when you have one too many odds and ends crammed together, which is tempting to do in small houses, you end up taking away from the space instead of adding to it.
Notice how accessories look way better in photos than in person. That’s because a skilled photographer knows how to emphasize a subject. When there’s too much going on, the same accessory will lose its appeal and run the risk of fading in the background.
Therefore, emphasize your accessories, curating what you display on the console table, the floating shelves, the open cabinets in the kitchen, and the media center in the living room.
Resist the urge to cram these places in an attempt to maximize space. If we’ve taught you anything at all, you should know how to purge and let go of items that no longer serve your best interest.
GO FOR STYLE AND FUNCTION
Style without function or comfort is for a showroom, not a real home where people engage in various activities and follow certain routines. Not for you too if your space is limited. The idea is to incorporate both styleandfunction to support you, your family, and your lifestyle.
You can maximize a space by using multipurpose furniture, decors and smart storage. In your entryway, for instance, opt for a bench with a storage compartment. Sit on the bench while putting on or taking off your footwear and then store them easily after.
LOOK FOR CONSISTENCY
A minimalist dining area will look bare against a luxurious Hollywood glam living room. A colorful Bohemian patio will feel jarring in a white Scandinavian-inspired home. These two examples justify the need to stick to a specific design style in order to achieve consistency and harmony.
While contrast and variety are desirable and must be present in a space, one specific overarching theme must stand out to make a space more impressive. So mix and match but remember continuity and cohesiveness of design.
MAXIMIZE YOUR WALLS
Don’t underestimate your walls. Walls have the power to instantly transform a space. Whether you want additional storage, an accent, or a functional piece, walls will come to your rescue.
With limited floor space, floor-to-ceiling storage compartments are a must. In the bedroom, use the uppermost parts of your cabinets to store seasonal items or bulky ones, like extra pillows and comforters.
If there’s no floor space for side tables, mount them on the walls, including sconce light fixtures. Float your pieces as much as you can.
Let your walls do the talking too, displaying artwork pieces and wall signs that add personality to your home. Wallpapers have the same effect.
They add visual interest without taking up floor area, but if you simply want to enhance a color scheme, painting one wall to serve as an accent will make a huge difference.
Mounting a mirror on a bare wall is one of the oldest tricks in design history. Mirrors enlarge a space and maximize light, so definitely give it a go to make your home more spacious and more inviting.
A limited floor space is never an excuse to skimp on style and comfort. So understand how interior design works and know what tricks will enhance your space.
As a song goes, “Too much of something is bad enough,” so go slow and know that we’re rooting for you and your happy place.