Experts Reveal 16 Small Space Decorating Mistakes That Are Cramping Your Style

The possibilities for decorating a space are endless, but when faced with the additional challenge of less space, figuring out how to best utilize any available square footage can be daunting. And what can seem like the ideal setup in a cozy loft in New York, NY may not necessarily work in a 400 square foot apartment in Toronto, ON. Add in a couple of these common small space decorating mistakes, and it can make the walls appear like they’re closing in.

To help you avoid these mistakes, we reached out to design experts for their quick and easy fixes so you can decorate your space without sacrificing style. Here’s what they had to say.

1) Trying to fight the size of your space rather than accepting it

Don’t buy ready-made furniture items to try and fill your space. Instead, invest in bespoke pieces that perfectly fit awkward corners and complement the architectural style of your space. Not only does this allow you to have stylish furniture, but it can offer options for dedicated storage, something that’s key in a small space. –Monsé Interior Design

2) Under-decorating to maximize your space

You want to ensure your small space doesn’t feel too sparse. Style like you would with any other space using accessories, decor, and artwork, making sure to layer your pieces. Also, don’t be afraid to use bold colors and mix your patterns. When purchasing pieces for your small space, you want to ensure you’re taking scale into account. Furniture that looks too bulky in a space is never a good thing. Think about low-profile and slim furniture. Armless pieces and ones that have open backs can also help in making spaces feel larger. –Alykhan Velji Designs

3) Avoiding color

While light and bright can make a space feel slightly larger, don’t avoid color solely for that reason. If you have a love for color, get creative, and go bold with paint and or textiles that show off your personality regardless of the size of the room. You can make the room feel larger with other techniques, such as bringing your curtains all the way from floor to ceiling to give an illusion of height. –Devan Rose Interiors

4) Placing furniture against the wall

Placing furniture against the wall is a common small space decorating mistake that makes a room feel cramped and disrupts the flow. Instead, utilize walls to install floating shelves. Hang the television and use strong velcro to hide modems and cable boxes behind the TV. Wall cubbies and hooks are ideal for entryways to hang coats, store keys, and other go-to items. –Charlotte Graham Design

5) Not taking advantage of low-profile, open-leg furniture

Fake extra square footage by using low-profile furniture with open legs to allow the space to breathe by giving the eye a peek at the floor. Bulky, overstuffed dark furniture can stop the eye and weigh down the space by providing a true definition of the room size instead of creating depth by blurring the edges. –M. Reed Studio

6) Avoiding or limiting bold design choices

Go bold, but remember balance and lighting choices are key. Using a combination of a deep, bold paint color while extending the floor tile up the wall to the ceiling creates an illusion of space and continuity. Using a versatile storage element such as a floating vanity with a shelf underneath creates uninterrupted sightlines, a place to store bathroom accessories, as well as a space to display décor items to enhance the overall design. –DTE Homes

7) Ignoring vertical space

The key to making a small space appear larger is to draw the viewer’s eye up and create a sense of height. A common small space decorating mistake we notice is when homeowners place their window treatments too low and close to their window casing which will foreshorten a room. Installing drape panels or window shades well above your window molding but not too close to the ceiling will produce a sense of loftiness and more room. –Soul Interiors Design

8) Choosing the wrong-sized rug

Think big when it comes to rugs. A small rug will draw attention to the limited size of the space. Instead, use a larger rug. Here’s our rule of thumb guide: the rug should extend beyond the furniture and the front two legs of all the main furniture pieces should sit on the rug. Be sure to float the furniture a few inches off the wall to help make the space feel lighter and larger. –Studio Elle Marie

9) Playing it safe with muted colors and patterns

Using big, bold designs in muted colors in small spaces is a great way to make a space feel larger. People tend to believe that small spaces should stick to small patterns, furnishings, or light fixtures, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bold design allows the use of minimal furnishings and maximizes the aesthetic appeal. –Nikki Levy Interiors

10) Foregoing furniture for more space

When decorating small spaces, homeowners tend to use a lot of little furniture and accessories. This tends to make the space feel cluttered. Instead of a lot of little art on the wall, one bigger mirror or one larger piece of art helps to set the scale of the space and keeps the space modern and clean. –Interiors by LH

11) Furniture and decor pieces in the incorrect scale

One of the most noticeable small space decorating mistakes is the use of furnishings, art, and accessories that are not in the correct scale. Overstuffed sofas and recliners crowd a small living room, and too many small framed pictures or tiny knick-knacks can make the space appear cluttered. If you’re tight on space, use furniture with a more tailored upholstery style and open legs. Lucite or glass-topped tables help the eye pass through a space more easily than visually heavy pieces. Use one or two larger-scale statement art pieces as a focal point instead of many smaller mismatched pieces. –Studio Croft

12) Underutilizing vertical space for storage

A common small space decorating mistake that can cramp up a home’s living space is not looking up. A small space sometimes means not enough floor real estate, so go vertical and use walls for that extra storage we all crave. Instead of layering furniture, take away the bulk, and look for decorative wall shelves or wall storage to help declutter while creating a great design moment. Be thoughtful in the items displayed or get creative with pretty baskets and boxes so it’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing. –Tally & Wolf

13) Using furniture that’s too big

The use of big furniture pieces that are not ideal for the size of that room can make it look and feel crowded. Make sure to pick furniture that enhances your room instead of making it look busy. Also, don’t be afraid of empty space. Empty space is your friend, and if done well can bring lightness and make the room feel bigger. These two ideas, by the hand of a light color palette and some color accents here and there, as well as rich textures, can make your small room the ideal one to spend endless hours in. –Arcteriors

14) Too much clutter

When decorating a small space, less is more. Filling up your space with too many furniture pieces makes the space smaller. On the other hand, over-accessorizing can also make a small space feel cluttered and almost claustrophobic. Keep your clutter to a minimum, and be intentional with your decor pieces. Also, make sure there’s adequate lighting around the room as it can make the space feel larger. –Tarleton Interiors

15) Having different floor finishes

When a customer asks for one tip that will add major impact to their home, we always suggest having consistent flooring throughout. Different floor finishes distract the eye and make a home look choppy and disjointed. Today’s open floor plans beg for consistent flooring for a cohesive look that makes a home feel bigger and adds flow throughout the space. –Patrick Street Interiors

16) Leaving walls bare

If you have a small space, make use of the walls by hanging shelves or a ladder display to hang towels or blankets. Small spaces are also the best spaces to show off your personality. Create an accent wall to draw attention and create a focal point, plus it can make the space feel and look larger. –Risse Design

Originally published by Redfin