More people are renting small homes and apartments than ever before, and many struggle to furnish their new place while maximizing use of their available square footage. This guide includes everything from optimal wall colors and furniture selection to design pitfalls, so you can create a comfortable and practical layout in a small room.

Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Decorating a small room is challenging, but you can get the look you want and create an open, inviting space in the process. As you read, keep in mind that tips on how to decorate a new home are going to be a little different from advice you'd get about decorating a studio apartment. This helpful guide will show you how to decorate a small room easily and effectively.

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Paint in Bright Colors

When designing a compact space, select colors that make a room look bigger. White and other pale neutral paint colors reflect both natural and artificial light, creating a bright, open effect even as the lighting changes throughout the day. Ivory or cream paint colors for small rooms also contrast with dark furnishings and decor for an extra level of depth.

In addition, painting walls and ceilings the same bright color creates the illusion that the ceiling is much higher than it really is. Again, white is a popular choice but feel free to experiment with the most recent popular colors for small rooms to stay on-trend with your design.

Invest in Multi-Functional Furniture

  • Saving Space Having less room to work with encourages you to think about your furniture in a practical way. For example, instead of oversized sectionals and armchairs, opt for sleeper sofas that double as a bed and a cozy seating solution.
  • Keeping Your Room Organized Keeping clutter at bay is crucial when it comes to smart small room ideas. Storage ottomans are perfect for holding everyday items like blankets, clothing and even electronics. They also give the appearance of a neat, orderly space.
  • Thinking Vertically Choose small room furniture that fulfills its purpose without taking up precious floor space. Bunk bed sets with built-in desks, tall bookshelves and entertainment stands fill blank walls without overcrowding your layout.

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Use Decorative Accents

Consider a few small room decor ideas to make your house or apartment feel more like home. Choose wall decor that creates a sense of symmetry and balance in the room. Evenly spaced pieces of similar sizes, colors and shapes create a clean, cohesive look. If you have smaller items you'd like to use, arrange them in groups of three to five on a single wall to mimic the look of a gallery display.

Another popular trick that promotes openness in a small room is the use of decorative mirrors. Whether you arrange a large circular mirror over the sofa or a collection of small rectangular mirrors in the kitchen, reflective surfaces expand your lighting as well as the view. Combine a large mirror with white wall paint to give tiny spaces some much-needed depth.

Display Large Artwork

It's important to know how to fill empty walls without adding clutter. For starters, instead of populating walls with a mix of picture frames and sculptures, opt for one or two larger pieces. A single oversized print has a much greater impact, and unstructured groups of smaller canvases can make a room feel overcrowded or stuffy.

Spread Light Evenly

A well-lit space is essential when you want to make small rooms feel larger. Reconsider using overhead lighting, and opt for multiple, strategically placed table lamps. In rooms with little natural lighting, this approach allows you to adjust the individual light levels in every corner. Alternatively, try wall-mounted lamps or track lighting to free up more space at ground level.

Avoid Clunky Furniture

Unlike boxy sofas and recliners, streamlined furniture designs make small rooms look bigger because the walls and floors are visible above and below each piece. Look for couches and chairs with a slender profile and long tapered legs, or consider low-profile sofa sets that fit small living rooms.

Small dining sets, like neat, round tables paired with two or three chairs, make the most of open-plan studios and tiny dinettes. You could also swap the chairs out for backless counter or bar stools to conserve more room. If you're outfitting a studio apartment or dorm room, try adding a coffee table to the center of the sitting area to serve as a makeshift dining table.

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Get Rid of Drapes

While they can be beautiful, drapes limit a room's natural light and add visual weight to your layout. Avoid heavy fabrics and consider light, breezy options like sheer linen curtains or light-filtering cellular shades. If you work the night shift, blackout shades and mini-blinds allow you to control and adjust natural lighting in bedrooms without adding bulk to your design.

Ensure Clear Pathways

Open, accessible walkways are crucial when you're short on space. Your layout should direct the flow of traffic while making the most of your square footage. It's tempting to place the couch and accent chairs back against the wall, but it's better to do the opposite. Float large furnishings in the center of the room to establish an intimate focal point and create pathways for easy movement.

Add a Rug to Define Space

Decorative rugs warm up cold floors and separate different aspects of a small room. For instance, a round medallion rug under a dining room set creates a visual border as well as a guide for centering the table and chairs. With a living room set, an area rug beneath the coffee table establishes walkways and prevents the carpet from bunching or shifting.

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