Key thought: Small home decorating need not be any different from any other type of decorating.
In my experience of advising clients on small home decorating, one problem which may need to be dealt with straight away is one of acceptance.
If you're happy with the size of your home and just want to know how to go about decorating it, then you can skip this bit.
But if you really want a larger home, and you're trying to find ways of disguising the fact that yours is a small home, then you have some rethinking to do!
Acceptance is the key
Accept your home for what it is. Small. Not big, not medium - small! There, we've said it. Having a small home doesn't reduce your worth as a person. You haven't failed in life because you have to engage in small home decorating.
And once you accept this, you're free to commence your decorating plans.
Don't think this is unimportant. Time and time again as an interior designer you can think you're winning with clients and success is in sight. Then up come the old comments once again, "We see what you're trying to do, but if only the room was a bit bigger..."
A small home can be just as warm, as comfortable, as pleasing to the eye and as enjoyable as a large one.
There are things you can do to make it appear to be larger than it is, and there are things you can do to make better use of the available space. But what you cannot do is physically make a small home big. (It wouldn't be a small home any more, would it?)
A golden opportunity
Perhaps you're living on your own in a small home, whether through necessity or choice doesn't matter.
When a home is occupied by more than one person, no matter how much we care about others, compromises always have to be made. But if you're on your own you have a great opportunity to decorate your home exactly as you want. So why not make the most of it?
This question is particularly important for small home decorating. If you can define the function of each room, even of each space, then you're half way to planning your decorating.
Because you'll need furniture in each room, it's important to decide what that furniture will be. And the furniture you'll need will depend on the room function.
The furniture will take up space, and although you can use small easy chairs instead of large ones, there's a limit to how small an easy chair can be and still comfortably support people!
In other words, there's a limit to how small your furniture can be. So remember, don't select furniture just because you think it's small. (See the section below on scale.)
Take your time over this one. Really try and work out how each room will work. Approach it from different angles as well.
- Is there an odd space in the hallway which isn't used?
- What could you use it for?
- Could you place a small table and chair there and use it for the phone?
- Would it be a good place for coat hooks on the wall?
The success of your small home decorating depends on the work you put in at this stage. Believe me, it's just as important as selecting your color scheme or flooring materials.
Work out routines or rotas
In a large home with three or more bathrooms, family members would be able to use a bathroom whenever they wished. But with just one bathroom, it's not so easy. Other rooms can suffer the same problems if people want to do different things in them.
To make life easier (and fairer) have some rotas in place. They make living in a small home far more relaxing.
It's about scale, not size.
When you look at furniture for your home, think about the size of the furniture in relation to the size of your room.
Better still, measure your rooms, and draw them to scale on paper. Then when you've chosen your furniture draw them to scale as well, and move them around on your plan. That way you'll get a better idea of size and scale.
What style would you like?
Certain interior styles such as those which use traditional drapes with jabots and swags probably wouldn't lend themselves to small home decorating. But here's the most important point to remember for small home decorating.
Forget you have a small home! It's your home. Period.
Got that? Good. Now go and start to plan your decorating.
Here's the thing. Nearly any style will work, if it's done correctly. Probably one of the most common is a personal style, simply made from your favorite colors, textures and furnishings. It's often called eclectic - joining all sorts of ideas together into an attractive combination. (Here's a page on finding your own style.)
If your home is modern, don't fight it, but consider using a modern or contemporary style for your small home decorating. There are many modern pieces of furniture which are extremely compact, but are also very comfortable and functional.
Whether you could successfully use a minimalist style is debatable. This style really needs space to show off the few items which are used, so doesn't lend itself to small spaces.
Decorating with color and making the most of the space
This is when you have to decide the color schemes to use, and how to make the most of room space. We've covered this in more detail on the small space decorating page. There you'll find more practical information on how to go about your home decorating.