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If you’ve come across our three-step strategy for streamlining your move to a smaller home, you’ve likely gotten rid of your extra things and planned the move to a “T” already. But at some point in this transition, you might find yourself juggling quite a few different ideas on what to do with the place. If you haven’t made a step down the square footage scale before, here are some tips to bring your ideas closer to reality.

Focus on Scale, Not Size

Your initial impulse may be to preserve space as much as possible, and while that’s a perfectly valid perspective, the end result could be more impersonal than you’d like.

The objective of decorating any space should be in preserving a sense of scale or proportion between the space and the objects you fill it with. Basically, nothing should be too small or too big for the space you’ve got.

So let go of L-shaped sofas, square coffee tables, and also symmetry. Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash.

Martha Stewart probably best describes this seemingly vague notion: “The homes I like the best are totally occupied, busy, and useful, whether it’s a tiny little house or a great big one. Rarely do you find a great big house that’s used in a good way. So I prefer smaller spaces that are full of books, full of things that people are doing.”

Translation: proof of life. Photo by Vadim Sherbakov on Unsplash.

What Martha Stewart is talking about is a desirable balance between scale, utility, and aesthetics. Sure, you’ve got less space to work with now. But in a way, it’ll now be easier to fill that reduced space with something that is the right size, serves multiple functions (ideally), and is visually appealing.

And doesn’t make the house look like it’s haunted. Photo by Peter Oswald on Unsplash.

Be at Peace With Smaller (Or Fewer) Appliances

With less space to go around, you’ll have to be extra careful when considering the purchase of furniture and appliances.

Even after consciously partitioning the space you’ve got to create separate zones, you’ll have to seriously consider if you actually have the space for bulky appliances such as dishwashers, or if you can forgo the luxury of not having to wash dishes by hand in favour of having extra cabinet space. As attorney and blogger Rachel Sklar puts it, “Space is at a premium, which is one of the reasons that I only have a mini-fridge. Great for leftovers, cheese, and chilling Diet Coke.”

Go for too large a fridge and you’ll be wrestling with that issue of scale again. Photo by Christian Mackie on Unsplash.

Look for Extra Storage in Everything

Forgive us for stating the obvious, but as there is less space to go around, storage is a priority.

Limit clutter and keep things off the floor to preserve the sense of space. As the Chicago-based interior designer Nate Berkus says, “If you actually keep things very organized and clutter-free, you can have more furniture than you think you can in a small space.“

Keep the mess of your home office contained and you’ll have extra space to devote to something else. Photo by Slava Keyzman on Unsplash.

Go vertical with open shelving if you can. Closed cabinets may look neater, but they take up more airspace. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you may need to get it custom-built. In the words of Drew Scott, one half of the Property Brothers, “The best way to maximize storage in a small space is with custom cabinets.”

Closed cabinets on the left, open shelves on the right. Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash.

Look out for furniture that doubles up on functionality with extra storage space, or use furniture in ways that enable them to pull double duty—such as putting a desk and a chair at the foot of your bed so that you have an end bench with drawers in addition to another place to sit.

This kind of arrangement also helps to section off where you sleep from where you work. Photo by Gabriel Beaudry on Unsplash.

Accessorise for Luxury

Just because you live in a small home doesn’t mean you can’t get a bit rich with your decoration. If CSI Miami’s Emily Procter is to believed, you are obligated to be good to yourself: “If you live in a small space, you should do the things that make it feel luxurious,” she says.

Such as using an ornate table lamp to focus attention in a space filled with simplicity. Photo by Justin Schüler on Unsplash.

This suggestion could run the gamut from gratuitously shiny fixtures to attention-grabbing architectural features, but Drew Scott the Property Brother points to more straightforward additions, “There are simple, small things you can do that really will impact the space. Things like changing out your curtain panels to something that adds a fresh new feel. Or maybe a smart pattern. Also swapping out an area rug, throws and pillows can be done in no time, and really have a dramatic effect.”

Work With the Light You’ve Got

Most guides on decorating small homes suggest that you emphasise the space-enlarging power of sunlight. Time to free yourself from those shackles.

Not every small home in the city will feature generous exterior windows, and even if you might be lucky to have a view, it may not be through a window that is large enough to keep your home bright and airy throughout the day.

Take this dorm room for example (no, it’s not a prison cell). Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash.

In such cases, David Bromstad of HGTV Star recommends embracing the dark side: “You have a small space with no windows? Put lamps in there, make it dramatic, paint the ceiling black. Do something with it. If it’s dark, accentuate the darkness.”

Letting dark turn into cosy is so much easier than knocking out a bigger window—and the bedroom is (ostensibly) for sleeping anyway.

No windows? No problem. Add a decorative feature where a window should be and you’ve still got a cosy bedroom. Photo by Mark Champs on Unsplash.

Use Colour to Affect Drama

The implied convention for small space decoration is to rely on a palette of bright or pale colours. That’s not necessarily a golden rule.

To let Bethany Mota, the fashion YouTuber, tell it: “There are so many ways to decorate small spaces. One of my favourite things is throw pillows. They can add so much colour to the room. You can have the same bedding for years and just switch out the throw pillows, and it looks like you have a completely new bed.”

That whimsical splash of colour says, “Lounge right here”. Photo by Poojitha Prasad on Unsplash.

As mentioned, when working with a dark interior, expressing a pale colour palette is not absolutely essential. What is more important is maintaining a uniform selection of colours in accordance with the environment you’re dealing with. If the space wants to be dark, let it be—you can always add some colour later.

(Contributed by Giselle Markaz, Edited by Kevin Eichenberger, 19th March 2020)


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thanks for the write up

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Interesting read. 

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nice sharing. thanks for that, as nowadays property in malaysia is getting smaller in size.