Large-Scale Pieces Give Small Rooms Massive Style
Work bigger elements into a diminutive space and watch its design cred grow by leaps and bounds
Houzz Contributor. Fresh out of journalism school, I fell into decorating media and immediately discovered a new passion. An Atlanta native, I spent several years as an editor for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine before making the leap to national publications and websites such as Houzz, Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Accents. I live in Birmingham, Alabama, with my husband and son, who’ve gotten used to coming home and finding the furniture rearranged. When I'm not dragging case goods across the floor, I enjoy good food and wine, college football, music of all kinds, and traveling.
Houzz Contributor. Fresh out of journalism school, I fell into decorating... More »
If you're furnishing a tiny room, odds are your instinct is to keep the furniture small as well. But that approach can translate to a room that feels cluttered and precious, as though it belongs in a dollhouse. It may sound counterintuitive, but try the opposite tack: Overscale furnishings, art or fixtures can actually make a space feel larger rather than smaller, and they evoke an air of warmth and comfort. Use these strategies to pull off the look.
Use the mirror effect. If there's a tried and true trick for opening up a tiny room, it's adding a large mirror. This one is massive, but the reflection makes it feel transparent, so it doesn't seem as though it hulks over the space. In fact, it provides enough visual expansion to allow for an overscale dining table as well.
Keep the footprint small. This is one of the great secrets of furnishing a pint-size room: Bring in large-scale pieces that have a shallow footprint. That way, you'll get the presence and gravitas of overscale furniture without swallowing too much floor space.
Juxtapose bigger furnishings with open vistas. Were this tall secretary tucked against two solid walls, it might have loomed too large for the space. But the adjacent window allows the eye to travel to the outside view, which helps to create the impression of more room and to make the secretary feel appropriate in scale.
Go vertical. Small rooms often have more room on the walls than on the floors. In this Lilliputian kitchen, an oversize range hood, a full wall of shelving and hanging pot racks free up enough space underfoot to add a good-size butcher block island.
Choose curved pieces. Rounded tables, corners and other elements occupy less visual space than furnishings with sharp corners. This dining room would feel much more cramped with a rectangular table.
Be creative with placement. In a perfect world, you'd never have to block a window or obstruct a pathway with furniture. But in small rooms, sometimes you need to break the rules. These homeowners managed to squeeze a full-size bed into this narrow bedroom by backing it against the window. By keeping the headboard light and open, they've allowed as much sunlight to penetrate as possible.
Channel your inner minimalist. This built-in credenza dominates the small bedroom, but it works because its size eliminates the need for additional case goods.
Keep the palette monochromatic. What makes this towering headboard, oversize folding screen and expansive bed work? A unified color scheme of gray, black and white, which prevents any single element from stopping the eye. High-contrast colors would have created more visual separation and made the space feel more choppy.
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Ideabook published on Aug. 9, 2012.
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