Decorating small spaces

How to make small rooms feel expansive

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Don’t look at small spaces as a restriction, a hardship. Thank them for forcing you to edit wisely, and not having to spend all Sunday afternoon vacuuming (there are no acres of broadloom to tend when floor space is at a premium). Here are a few tried-and-true tricks to max out the cubbyhole you call home.

Light up

A light-filled room feels bigger than a dark warren. If you aren’t lucky enough to have lots of natural light, fake it with a well-situated mirror that reflects it. Another option is to create lots of artificial light with floor lamps, ceiling fixtures and wall sconces. Wall sconces require installation and wiring, but the benefit is the symmetry they offer a room, part of the order which is so important, leading us to…

Inventory patrol

Keep it simple. Clear objects off the surfaces and carefully edit the contents of your storage units. In a small space, “eclectic” can just read as a mess. Love books? Why not wrap the covers in a matching paper so they are identical? If it sounds like it might be insanity, ponder how your current bookshelf looks.

Pale shelter

Light shades recede, making a space seem much more expansive. Another trick: stick with a monochromatic palette. If you have the domestic chops (no pets, never eat on the sofa, always take off your shoes), by all means go for white, but cream is a more livable option, and pale pearly grey has a quiet sophistication.

Pick drapes that are the same colour as your walls for a cohesive look, or get motorized blinds that disappear into a track.

Mind your proportions underfoot, choose flooring with small tiles or boards rather than wide planks or big squares to create more dimension.

Mondo condo

The glut of condos being built has borne a happy byproduct, sophisticated yet compact furnishings that don’t dwarf smaller dimensions. Look for compact tub chairs and sofas with tuxedo arms that won’t take up valuable space, and dining tables with removable leaves that can stretch out in a pinch. And don’t push all your furnishings up against the wall like they are in a police lineup. Leave some room around each piece to “breathe” and the room will seem less claustrophobic.

Pick a pocket

Pocket doors (sliding doors that disappear, when open, into a compartment in the adjacent wall) make sense on two counts: one, they can tuck away neatly and unobtrusively, and two, you don’t have appropriate wall space to account for a swinging door, and are free to push furniture right up beside a doorway.

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