Updated: Nov 1, 2022
We have the worlds smallest bedroom. And my husband is pretty much the world's tallest man...at 6'5.5" a queen bed just isn't an option...he needs a king so he can sleep diagonally - and myself at 5'5.5"...well I get the top right quadrant, which actually works out ok cause I sleep in the fetal position...by choice!
I'm in 3 inch heels...his feet are like 10 feet apart...you get the picture...:) So all that said, our tiny bedroom has even less floorspace now that we've squeezed in a king bed and a large dresser to accommodate the clothes that don't fit in the tiny closet.
So, the issue was not only upgrading the feeling of the space - from mish-mash to soothing, cohesive, restful, cozy.....but also somehow giving the illusion of expansiveness...see before photo below: Meh.
But, you ask...a layered, cozy room generally makes a space feel smaller, not bigger...so how can you achieve both?
Do you have a small space you'd like to cozify while not feeling like the walls are closing in on you? This one's for you...
First, a few myths to blow up...
We love our RH dresser 10,000x more now that it's had some TLC on the styling front.
1) Layered equals cluttered. In actuality, when done right, with each piece intentionally selected and placed, a layered space looks warm and sophisticated. Certainly if the pieces don't speak to one another, or don't have any common ground, are opposing styles, etc etc, it can definitely start looking cluttered fast. And clutter is a sure fire way to make your space feel smaller.
2) A bedroom must have a 3 piece dresser set, vanity, chaise, chair, or bench. False. Friends, don't overburden your space. Choose the non-negotiables for your needs, and be extremely selective with everything else. Be honest with your space, if it doesn't have room for a bench at the end of the bed, don't try to squeeze it in, this will make the space visually shrink. Every bedroom is unique, and is asking for a different arrangement, so do not copy paste what you see on pinterest into your room, unless it's the exact same size with the same architecture, and your exact same style, it most likely won't work.
Ok without further ado, let's talk about my top tips for decorating a small space to feel bigger than it is!
Use a neutral backdrop. White/off-white/grey/greige/cream...there's about 1 million variations of gorgeous neutral wall treatments to choose from, be it paint, wallpaper, textured treatment, paneling, etc. Go light and bright on your walls to reflect natural light and make the room seem bigger. Reserve colour for pops in the decor, which will help draw your eyes to the focal point in the room, rather than to the background.
Use neutral decor pieces. I know what I just said, and I want you to ALSO grab a few in a true colour, we will get to that. But depending on the feeling you're trying to evoke, you may want to pepper in neutral styling items if you're going for more of a calm, cool and collected look. BUT - and here's the tip - select neutral pieces with a lot of TEXTURE. Be it a pillow, throw, vase, candlesticks, baskets etc. Introducing texture fast tracks a room towards that feeling of warmth and coziness, without the loudness of a lot of colour, or bold colour. Think a nubby throw, a hand-formed ceramic, woven basket, rough hewn metals, stitching details on a pillow, a vintage book or photo frame...texture texture allllllll the texture...delicious. Do you not feel enveloped just at the mere mention!?
Don't neglect colour! The scariest c-word for so many people, especially when decorating bedrooms for the cozy, soothing, calming reasons we discussed...but here's the thing...colour is natural. Colour is everywhere. Colour makes you feel something. It certainly adds visual interest, so to not use colour is like taking away a layer to your space, and I just can't stand by and watch that happen! I will take a stand for my misunderstood friend Colour, and I'll instead encourage you to use her intentionally...Don't choose a colour palette out of thin air. Begin with your feeling word...the example here was calming...choose your art and/or rug first. These inspiration pieces directs our colour decisions, so that the end result is a cohesive, well-informed space. In my bedroom I used a pastoral watercolour piece that used various shades of blue and green. I also selected a rug early on in the design process which has a range of blues from steely navy to seafoam, with terracotta and neutrals. BUT I searched out this palette in a vintage style Persian, because of the distressing effect used. This allows me to have a major colour and pattern pop on the floor, without it being too saturated. More of a whisper than a shout. I then selected a seafoam blue that was in both the rug and art and sourced a pillow and blanket to connect the colour story to the bed. The result? An additional layer to the calming vibe I was going for...a beautiful muted shade of blue, which is a naturally relaxing colour, and *almost* a neutral to our eyes, as we are so accustomed to seeing it in nature. Love me some blue in the bedroom.
4. The curse of the small furniture. One of the biggest pitfalls I see as a designer is people falling prey to buying too small of a piece which gets filled up so they buy another too-small piece which isn't enough, so they buy another too-small piece......on and on.....and before you know it, your room is overwhelmed with furniture! Invest in a large enough piece for your needs, and you'll achieve a cleaner feel to your room as well as a less expensive, and more practical storage solution. Another aspect to this point but in the wall decor realm...consider one large piece rather than a gallery wall in a small room...it also lends to a sense of space to have one clear, large focal point. The size of art above any piece of furniture should be 50-75% of the length of the furniture it will be hung above.
5. Style your casegoods. (aka dressers/nightstands, boxy furniture). Relating back to the 1st busted assumption about layering equals cluttered, leaving these spaces blank reads as cold, uninteresting, uninviting...So, we style with intention. Here, we began with an arched mirror to introduce a less common shape into a room of rectangles, with the additional intention of bouncing more light around the room. We used a large textured off-white vase, and a coloured (terracotta) vase as our grounding pieces on either end of our large scale dresser (a lamp would have been another great choice for one side as well). We layered a vintage art piece against the mirror for dimension, a play with scale, visual interest, and...colour! Then we filled in the rest of the space based on what we felt it needed....the left side didn't feel balanced with all that was going on on the right so a few tall, thin vases. A stack of books warms up a space with texture and personality, and a small wicker tray to catch and contain all the things...Really important point on styling: don't be afraid to layer things over one another, rather than lining them up side by side. It's a richer, more curated look and it will up-level the entire vignette...try it! So because the dresser is the showstopper casegood in our room (sadly it's half obstructed by the bed!! Blasted tiny room!) we went really simple on the sidetables...lamps for practical reasons, but also to add more texture, with a simple piece on either side so it didn't feel neglected or empty...but let's be reasonable, these tables do some heavy lifting day in and day out holding our books/magazines/lotion/elastics/glasses/water...so it's important to be realistic with leaving space for the living part of a room! Head to our IG page to see a couple reels about styling this dresser, tips to apply to any space in your home!
Here is the before and after side by side...what do you think? Is it cozier, more cohesive and seemingly more spacious? By the way I find myself longing to slip under the covers every time I walk by the room...I think YES.... :D I mean...the rug & art alone make a HUGE difference. What do you think?
Intentionality is everything in design my friends. Acknowledging the rooms strengths and limitations, addressing the functions of the room, planning the space accordingly, and selecting the right pieces. It's a less-is-more kind of a situation...and I know these tips will help you to create a stunning, inviting, cozy, cohesive space in your home. And do tell when you do!
Until next time!