How to Use Color in Small Spaces

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What are the rules for using color in small spaces?Color Wheel

There really are no rules, but there are a few guidelines that will help when deciding what colors to paint the walls or to use in your furniture or accessories.

Generally speaking, dark or warm colors will make the space appear smaller and light or cool colors will visually expand the space. But that’s not carved in stone!

Use Color to Create a Focal Point

Remodeling and Home Design

You’ll be able to jazz up a small space with bold or dark colors if you either use the color on a feature wall as a focal point or if you use the color in adjoining rooms.

Contemporary Living Room

Use a Bold Color in Stripes

Using bold stripes on a neutral background is an excellent way to visually expand a room plus it will add a pop of color and draw the eye through the length of the space.

Using bold stripes

Use the Same Color in Adjoining Rooms

Painting adjoining rooms with the same color will create the illusion of a larger space.  Or try using two or three different shades of the same color.  That’s a great idea regardless of the size of the rooms.  It’s always a good idea to keep the same basic theme throughout the home.

Using the same color in two rooms

Use Bold Colors for Furniture and Accessories

Using bright colors on furniture and accessories in small spaces will give you that pop of color that you desire without making the room seem smaller.

Bold, colorful upholstery, decorator pillows, vases, and drapes are all elements that can be used in small spaces.  Just remember to bring that color into the other rooms in some way, as well.

Notice how these red chairs draw the eye toward the end of the room?  That’s how to visually expand the space with a focal point using bold color.

Colorful chairs in dining area

Experiment With Colors

Speaking of painting walls, the best way to decide on a color is to purchase the 2-ounce samples that are available at all home improvement stores and paint stores.  You’ll be able to paint an area about 12″ by 24″ which is large enough to tell if it’s really what you thought it would be!

Use color in small spaces judiciously but do it your way!  It’s your home and it should reflect your personality.  If your favorite color is purple, by all means use purple…just maybe not on every wall!

Have you tried a unique way to incorporate color into your small space?  I’d love to hear about your experiences and whether or not this post helped you decide one way or the other so leave a comment if you like.

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11 thoughts on “How to Use Color in Small Spaces

  1. Hi Cheryl, I really enjoyed reading your post. It looks great, you have good use of photo’s and some good points. I look forward to reading future posts. I have a small cottage which I am trying to decorate so any help I can get is appreciated, Its kind of hard trying to choose colours and furniture to suit a smaller home. All the best, Kerry

  2. I live in a small studio apartment that I’m going to renovate in a few weeks – your post has really been helpful in helping me decide what to do with it. I must say that I do love the idea of using bold stripes to make a space seem larger. I’m thinking of painting my walls a muted shade of turquoise and then using gray stripes over a black floor, do you think this would be a good combination? What else would you recommend given the color of my wall? Thank you!

  3. I live in a small studio apartment that I’m going to renovate in a few weeks – your post has really been helpful in helping me decide what to do with it. I must say that I do love the idea of using bold stripes to make a space seem larger. I’m thinking of painting my walls a muted shade of turquoise and then using gray stripes over a black floor, do you think this would be a good combination? What else would you recommend given the color of my wall? Thank you!

    • I think that’s a winning combination, Julie! In fact, I’m redoing my master bedroom with various shades of blue and green. It isn’t finished, yet, so I won’t post a photo but I love those colors, too. You could do the walls the muted turquoise and then bring in bolder shades of turquoise and/or another color as accents.

      Check out my Pinterest board “Home Style” at http://bit.ly/1SuEL52 for some ideas. I also have Ideabooks on Houzz at http://bit.ly/201rdyA. If you haven’t discovered Houzz, you’re in for a treat!

      I think your studio will be beautiful…I’d love to see photos when you have it completed. And thanks for stopping by!

      Cheryl

  4. Hi Cheryl,

    Your decor ideas are extremely helpful. The idea of a focal point is likeable. Never thought of it before but now I know better. Your post is helpful.

    The stripes too are a remarkable idea.

    I tend to see glass and mirrors seem to virtually increase space in small rooms. Kindly let me know, what place does glass or mirrors have in small space decor?

    • First of all, thank you for stopping by my site! I’m happy that you found it useful. Using glass and mirrors in small spaces gives the illusion of more space than there actually is. Mirrors reflect other surfaces in the room or a view to the outside. Glass topped tables, for example, also give the illusion of more space.

  5. Hello Cheryl!
    I’m in loving with your website! Oh my, I wish I could be able to do 1/3 that you know… Definitely, this is a field that I don’t know anything! So, I will literally dig your posts on the next days, lol.
    Thank you for the great ideas! The pictures illustrating what you are explaining on the post are amazing! Make it so easy to understand.
    Congrats for the awesome job on your website!

    • I’m so happy you found my post helpful, Lana. I’m trying to reach everyone who struggles with these little design dilemmas! I’d love it if you’d pass it on as I’d love to have more visitors. I’m very passionate about this subject so it’s a labor of love, for sure!

  6. You offer a very good service with your site. I am terrible with decorating and colours. I have never been very good at matching or contrasting. Your images show how amazing a room looks when it is done right.

    I would never sit in a couch with a shelf above it 🙂

    The stripes are very striking and gives a fabulous look to the room. I am going to try this myself.

    Thanks Cheryl.

    • Thanks for visiting, Christine! I’m so glad you found some inspiration…it’s amazing what color can do in a room, even if it’s small. I have to admit that I’ve never put a shelf above a couch and unless it’s truly secured well, I wouldn’t do that, either! I love that rug, too!

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