Do you like watching interior design shows that feature tiny homes and small living spaces? Isn’t it always such a ‘wow’ moment when they present the final product – a wonderfully decorated tiny house that equates to a happy and fun life at home?
Yes, to both for me.
It’s fascinating to see the ingenious architecture and designs of a tiny space. Because of the very limited area, the thoughts behind the layout and functionality placed in each square inch is sometimes just mind-boggling.
However, you should remember that this is actually a house – with people intending to live in it. And it’s always more challenging to decorate a tiny space. Imagine having to fit your whole life into ~400 square feet of space.
Frustrations arise because there is always a surplus of stuff and a shortage of space.
So, what is the best way to go about decorating a tiny space, you ask.
Well then, we compiled a list of nine major dos and don’ts you need to know when designing your tiny homes. Oh and btw, this also works for small spaces.
1. DO buy only if you need it
You’re getting a tiny house or small apartment either because you have no choice, you want to try the minimalist approach to life or you want to hop on this trendy tiny bandwagon. Either way, all these entail that you’re ready or willing to let go of most of your things and know only to hold on only to those that matter.
Therefore, it only follows that you make sure you only get what you need. It’s time to say goodbye to any level of hoarding inclinations.
This is probably one of the steepest parts of the climb journey but once you get over this initial hurdle, the following steps will be easier to take. To give you a little bit of motivation and keep you in this mindset, just continually imagine having a relaxing, uncluttered home versus a crowded, messy place. Your tiny space should be one where you can still do all the things you love while feeling comfortably at home.
2. DON’T stray from the theme
First rule of business when designing your own space is to keep it cohesive – stay on track on the same theme and motif. Even if it’s the quirky, eclectic theme you’re into, keep it quirky and eclectic all throughout.
This is even more important when it comes to tiny or small spaces – you only have so much to decorate and make use of. Don’t make it feel disjointed.
It doesn’t have to be all matchy-matchy (that will just look tacky). Instead, all furniture and decor should be inspired by the same theme. Or, have this underlying element, a common denominator, through all of it that ties them together. Usually, the color palette is the easiest indication to make it a harmonious space.
3. DO go for double duty pieces and designs
Remember when you imagined how you could possibly fit your whole life into 400 square feet? It’s not as impossible as you may think. Leveraging the power of double duty or multi-purpose furniture might just answer that for you.
In any tiny or small space, multi-functional furniture pieces are must-haves. Not only do they give you that much needed extra storage space, but their ingenious designs carefully hide these compartments so they don’t look awkward or take up extra space. Foldable or floating pieces are a popular choice – they don’t take up floor space and can ‘disappear’ when not in use.
Photo source: Decoratoo
Similarly, other tricky design elements are hidden drawers. For example, many would empty the steps towards their lofts and gain a lot of extra storage with their stairs. While there are others that transform their couch platforms into pull-out drawers.
Another fashionable choice is extendable tables and chairs that magically appear during meal time. The trick is to be as creative as possible and think about other spaces you can utilize and optimize.
Photo source: Curbed
4. DON’T be afraid to play with scale
One interesting yet equally important tip when it comes to designing tiny spaces is: just because it’s small doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to small items. Not exactly the most intuitive, but believe it, it works.
Having one statement piece in your tiny home or small apartment will raise its level enormously.
- One: you bring home a level of grandeur with one (or two) large pieces, making your tiny home seem bigger than it actually is
- Two: having an attention-grabbing piece takes the eyes away from the small floor area
- Three: it makes the area more ‘set’ or ‘well put together’ when you have one big furniture instead of many smalls one laying around and looking like they’re just ‘floating’
- Four: your statement piece will fill up the space nicely and not leave any nook or cranny that you wish you could utilize more
- Five: it’s probably cheaper to invest in a beautiful large piece than buying several small ones
Photo source: Treehugger
Couches and rugs are the most common types of ‘statement pieces’ that homeowners or designers use, whether it be in a large home or tiny house.
A sizable couch gives you extra seating room plus adds to the comfort level of your tiny space. Similarly, a rug is a great investment. It definitely ups the comfort level but it’s also a fantastic approach to anchor down all the main pieces and serve as the final piece of the puzzle that completes the space.
Photo source: Tiny House
5. DO embrace a lighter color palette
The trick to designing a tiny home is visual influence and creating the perception of space. In short, you want your tiny home to seem bigger than its actual footage. One more trick in the book is to use a bright or light and airy color palette.
A color tone that’s light or neutral creates a sense of openness because it can better reflect light or guide the flow from outdoors to indoors.
If you want to add pops of color or highlight a certain area or piece by using a deep or dark hue, go ahead. Just be careful not to overdo it. Also, the foundational color is best following a lighter shade. You must also ensure that these additional tints complement or match the overall design theme of your tiny home.
6. DON’T block the light
Matching the previous point with this current one would yield the perfect combination in expanding the perception of space for your tiny home.
Besides giving you a view, having windows in a tiny space prevents it from becoming cramped and claustrophobic. Welcoming the light widens your visual space and gives it more warmth; plus, this approach makes your tiny home more sustainable and energy efficient.
If incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows is challenging or not really what you want all around, one is enough. For the rest, you can instead have wider windows or skylights.
Photo source: Vox Creative
7. DO make use of vertical space
Making use of vertical space is the magic ingredient in any tiny space or home.
Elevated areas or lofts are a common design element in tiny homes and small apartments if the space allows. Having this immediately gives you 50% additional floor space, sometimes more when you can put lofts on both sides. Bedrooms or sleeping quarters occupy the top part, with a tiny window, giving you a pretty, little resting nook where you can fully unwind and relax.
Apart from this, putting your walls to practical use means giving yourself additional storage space in the form of shelves or open cabinets, which is especially useful in the kitchen area. There are also many tiny homes who install additional windows up top just to get more light in.
If not any of those, making a decorative wall or just simply putting decorations up can also draw the eye upward and let onlookers forget about the small real estate they are stepping on.
Photo source: Marjolein in het klein
8. DON’T forget to accessorize
Once you have the main interior layout and design settled and all the necessary furniture is set and ready, it’s time to jazz up the place. By accessorizing and injecting some objects that reemphasize your design theme, this is when you show more of your character and personality that will eventually make your tiny house a home.
To start, you can have throws, pillows, wall arts, decorative crockery and touches of living color with indoor plants to breathe life to the place. After which, add some personal touches using pictures, mementos and anything that holds sentimental and meaningful value for you.
Photo source: Insider
9. DO have some outdoor space
When you choose to live in a tiny home or small apartment, it doesn’t mean you have to be cooped up in that small space all the time. Quite the opposite, having a tiny house gives you the opportunity to create a neat little outdoor space, connected to your home.
Outdoor spaces are a blessing in any home, even more so if it’s tiny. Marrying your indoor space with a great outdoor area will wash away that feeling of living in a cramped house and not having enough space.
There’s usually a porch in front, a lanai in the back or a rooftop deck. Ideally, the outdoor space allows easy dining with a few friends. But it’s also enough just to have a couple seats where you can relax and breathe in some fresh air. Your indoor area should open up to your outdoor space to make your house design flow fluidly – this also is a chance to get some floor-to-ceiling windows and let the light in!
Tiny houses on wheels would naturally have small outdoor areas because these need to easily move along with the house. But if your tiny home is set on foundation in the ground, then you can create a really spacious backyard and patio, making it seem like it’s no longer a tiny home (but a small house now).
Photo source: Insider