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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Cat Friendly Small Space Decor Ideas

Cat friendly small space decor ideas

If you’re a cat lover and have a small home, it’s a challenge to stylishly decorate and keep it cat-friendly, as well.

Cats are typically lively little creatures and will play with anything that’s not nailed down.  Fragile accessories and easily scratched surfaces are probably not the way to go.

You already know that living in an apartment or small home can be boring for your furry kiddo.  Cats are perfect pets for small spaces partly because they’re often snuggly and contented housemates and because they are pretty low maintenance…you don’t need to walk them every day!

But they do need a certain level of activity to keep them healthy and active. This new story on Apartment Therapy is all about making your small apartment more fun for your cat! 

I love this photo of my daughter’s cat, Eva, watching a squirrel nibble on pumpkin seeds. She was mesmerized!

Eva watching a squirrel

Sitting in front of a glass door or lounging on a window sill or cat shelf are just a few ways to make sure your cat is entertained.   It’s what I like to call “crittervision”!

I just know you’ll get a big kick out of this excellent article on 25 Awesome Furniture Design Ideas for Cat Lovers.

A bonus is that many of these suggestions can be DIY friendly.

My favorites are the All-In-One Cat Bathroom…  All-in-one cat bathroom

Cat bed planterAnd the Cat House Planter!

They’re both functional AND stylish!

Here are a few tips that are especially useful.

  • Make sure your cat has plenty of toys.  They’re easily bored and that can prove to be trouble! Keep the toys in a low basket to make it easy for your kitty to choose his favorite.
  • Use throw rugs and slipcovers.  There are some beautiful but inexpensive rugs (slip-proof) and slipcovers available. Easy to wash or to shake out the cat hair.  My daughter purchased inexpensive white (yes, white) bedspreads from Ikea to use on her furniture.  They’re really lovely.
  • Use candles with caution…better, yet, don’t use real candles, at all!  I’ve learned to love the battery-powered pillar candles.  They are so realistic looking, these days, and if you forget to switch them off the house will not go up in flames!
  • Secure accessories with  Collectors Hold Museum Putty.  It’s removable and non-toxic and the review are excellent.

If you can, choose furniture with exposed legs, rather than skirts…pet hair and dust can gather underneath furniture with skirts making it hard to clean.

If you can’t use a slipcover and you can’t teach your kitty to stay off the furniture, place a throw across the seat…it’ll give your cat a cozy place to perch and will be easier to clean.

Use a semi-gloss paint on the walls to make removing paw prints or cat hair (that stuff can be like a magnet to a wall!).

Try to place a piece of furniture under a window (without having delicate accessories on top) so your furry friend has a place to perch and watch what’s happening outside. Or purchase a pet shelf like this one that’s designed for that purpose. Deluxe Cat Shelf

If possible, brush your cat on a fairly regular basis because that will keep the hair to a minimum. And once they get used to it, cats do like being groomed.

From time to time, I’ll update this post when I come across other good ideas for creating attractive, functional and cat-friendly small space decor ideas.

Litter BoxUPDATE:  Want 10 Ideas for Disguising or Hiding a Litter Box?

They’re here in this post from Apartment Therapy My two favorites are the 2nd and 4th ideas (pictured is #4)…what’s your favorite?

If you have found a particularly successful solution to any of these dilemmas, let me know…post photos and tell us how you solved a problem!

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The Best Small Space Decorating Books

The Best Small Space Decorating Books

canstockphoto0133890Give me a stack of decorating books or decorating magazines and I’m one happy lady.  (Same with cookbooks…I read cookbooks like novels.)

This isn’t to say that looking for ideas online isn’t a great way to go, of course…it’s fast and easy and there’s a myriad of choices.

It’s simply that when I relax at the end of a busy day with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, I will most often reach for one of my favorite decorating books!

And each time I look through them I almost always see something new or in a different perspective. I might be looking at window treatments or rugs or wall decor…so that’s what my eyes will focus on.

Here are three of the best:
Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home

Apartment Therapy – Complete and Happy Home.   I’ve already talked about how much I love the Apartment Therapy website and newsletter. Now you don’t have to be online to browse their suggestions.  This will become a favorite resource, for sure.  They have another book called The Big Book of Small Cool Spaces

Small Space OrganizingSmall Space Organizing – A Room by Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space.  The author, Kathryn Bechen, is a well-respected journalist living in San Diego who blogs about organizing and home decor. This book is also available for Kindle (I don’t have a Kindle but if you do, you’re sure to want to add this.  Just think…you can browse the pages anywhere!

BHG Book


Better Homes and Gardens publishes several books on small space decor.  New Decorating Book, 10th Edition (Better Homes and Gardens) (Better Homes and Gardens Home)is a good choice with sensible, down-to-earth suggestions throughout.

These are favorites of mine, but there are so many available that you’re sure to find exactly the resource you’re looking for.  I have a couple of Martha Stewart books on Holiday decor, too, that I can rely on every single year.

Do you have special favorite books on small home decor? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments!

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Open Kitchen and Living Room Design

It’s a big deal in new home design, these days, to incorporate a great room into the floorplan.

Now, we’re talking great rooms in very large houses. Families want an open kitchen and living room design in their homes.

It’s the place where the whole family gathers and it’s perfect for entertaining.  It’s almost a given that you’ll have a great room in new home construction.canstockphoto2818192

It’s sensible since most people spend the bulk of their time at home in the kitchen area.

If you’re cooking dinner, how nice is it to be able to watch the news or visit with your family or friends while you’re working?

Face it…it’s the thing to do, these days.

So what’s the difference if you’re in a small living space?  Really nothing.  It’s just smaller!  It’s where you’ll be most of the time, anyway, right?

Here’s a slide show that will illustrate what I mean – there are 18 examples of great combination living/dining designs:

I think my favorite takeaways from this video are that once you choose a focal point, you can separate the areas with rug, wall color, dining tables, peninsulas, etc.

One of my favorite slides is #11 (I think) with the purple couch and the pumpkin colored chair.  The next slide with the sassy green tiles is a close second.  But I love them all…just depends on the basic layout of your small space.

This is simply another take on living large in a small space. We just need to adjust the parameters…a small living area rather than a large living area.

So what’s your favorite?  How can you merge your own living/dining/kitchen space to maximize the size of your small space?

Let me know in the comments!

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The Best Links for Small Space Decor Ideas


Buffet in RoomThere are so many resources out in cyberspace that give excellent advice and that tweak your decorating creativity.

Decorating and organizing a small space doesn’t have to be impossible…you just have to know where to look.

Here are links to a few of my favorite online resources:

In my post How to Personalize a Small Space Rental, I’ve included a video from Apartment Therapy showing two apartments with identical layouts but totally different vibes.  Apartment Therapy is probably my favorite decorating site simply because it encompasses such a wide variety of decorating dilemmas…not just small space decor.

Pinterest and Houzz – 2 Favorites

Another fabulous site for decorating ideas is Pinterest.  Seriously, if you need ideas for holiday decor or bathroom vanities or gardening in a small space, Pinterest is a great place to search.

Even if you don’t need decorating ideas, you’ll find all sorts of hints, tips and solutions for healthy recipes or funny quotes, craft ideas, wall art, home based business ideas…you name it and I’ll bet you’ll find just what you’re looking for.

small yardIf you haven’t already, consider joining Pinterest…you can create your own Boards and save your favorite ideas from other Pinterest friends.

Start by visiting my Pinterest Boards…I’ve got 28 boards and more than a thousand pins!  One of my boards is Small Space Solutions.

The first decorating site I joined was Houzz.  That was before I moved to a townhouse.  But Houzz has thousands of decorating and DIY ideas for homes and gardens both large and small.  It’s a wonderful place to present a design dilemma at the Advice tab.  You’ll get answers or suggestions from other members and a few professionals to help you with your problem.

Finding Perfect Furnishings is Fun!

One Kings Lane is another beautiful resource for every possible home decor ideas that you might be searching for…and now you can search for whatever you need for entertaining, gifting and decorating. So much beautiful art objects like this:

8″ Nautilus w/ Sterling Silver, Brown

from: One Kings Lane

They’ve got furniture and decor for every room in your home! Be sure to check out the website.

There’s also up to 70% off  in their warehouse sale…can’t beat that deal!

So check out these links and please let me know your thoughts.

If you have favorite decorating sites, I’d love to include them.

Thank you for visiting…if you enjoyed this post, please share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

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The Best Small Kitchen Cooking Tools

I don’t know if cooking tools is the right wording for title of this post…there are utensils, gadgets, pots & pans, etc. but I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate.

The most important characteriIMG_0164stic is that if everything you use in a small kitchen is multipurpose, you’ve conquered a big challenge.

For example, my cast iron skillets…I love them.  I actually have a three.  They’re perfect for the stovetop because the heat is conducted evenly throughout the skillet.  Plus, they’re easily moved into the oven.

I’ve had my skillets for years but they’re readily available. Amazon has this Universal Housewares Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 3 Piece Skillet Set. (6.25 inch, 7.8 inch, 10 inch). I often sear either a beef or pork roast or brown pieces of chicken and then put the skillet in the oven with some root vegetables, a little wine or beer (depends on your recipe) and finish the dish in the oven.  Yum!

Look for anything that “nests”…bowls, measuring cups, baskets.IMG_0167

My daughter has a set of nesting bowls like these and I loved them so much I bought my own!  They’re the perfect size for cereal, soup, chili, stew…even a generous portion of ice cream.

Your thoughts?

So what space saving cooking tools do you think should be included, here.  There are so many choices. Anything that isn’t multi-purpose or easily stored needs to be evaluated for its usefulness.

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Decorating Ideas from Pinterest

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If I’m looking for a recipe or beautiful artwork or a clever quotation, I can always find dozens of ideas on Pinterest, which is one of the fastest growing social networks, ever!

I think of Pinterest as the photo equivalent of Twitter!

Except that instead of short 140 character posts, Pinterest is a collection of small photos representing dozens of interests.

Cooking, decorating, reading, DIYing, fashion, humor, science, sports…you name the interest and if you can’t find a board that meets your search, I’ll be very surprised!

I have a Pinterest board called Small Space Solutions where I post photographs and links that are excellent ideas for maximizing small spaces.  Like this clever idea for organizing jewelry:

Pinterest jewelry pegs

Several of my related Pinterest boards are:

Architectural Elements

Pinterest architecture

Home Style

<a href=" task management system.jpg”>Pinterest homestyle

Beautiful Homes, Inside and Out 

(including lots of small cottages/tiny houses)

pinterest beautiful tiny

Brilliant Miscellaneous Ideas

Pinterest Brilliant

Inspired Garden Ideas

Pinterest garden

Nearly every day I find something new to “pin”!

So check out my links and then join me on Pinterest…register if you aren’t there, already.

Then, let me know in the comments what your link is.

I’d love to follow you…perhaps I’ll find a new passion!

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Living Large in a Small Space

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The primary challenge for living large in a small space is how to create a warm and inviting home while finding the best use for every square inch without creating clutter.

That’s quite a challenge, wouldn’t you agree?  But it’s not impossible.  It might just be the most rewarding home project you’ve tackled in a long time.  What a feeling of satisfaction you’ll have when you stand back and realize what you’ve accomplished!

Here’s a video I think you’ll enjoy.  The end result is quite inspiring.

This is the living/dining room, of course, but it’s the space where they spend the most time.

I love the table which can be used as a desk but expanded when you are entertaining. The wall mounted cabinets were a stroke of genius and created a perfect spot for the bicycles.

The only change I might suggest is that they swap out the sofa for a daybed which could be used as a guest bed.

Please share your thoughts on these ideas…I’d love to include your suggestions here, as well.

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How to Organize Your Closet

Nearly every decorator or designer recommends that the very first room you should complete is your bedroom. It’s your sanctuary…the place to go at the end of a long day. It’s where you regroup, relax, rest and it’s all yours…a private retreat.

 But as we’ve established, small bedrooms are difficult to organize especially if it’s shared by two people. There’s double everything…clothing, shoes, accessories and finding space in a small space can be frustrating. So turning it into a relaxing retreat is a challenge, for sure.

If you can maximize the space in your closet, you’ll be well on your way to that relaxing retreat.

Of course, a major hurdle is making room for all of those clothes, shoes, etc.

You’ll get more bang for your buck with a really good closet organizer.  I absolutely recommend getting this in order and here’s a suggestion that’s easy to purchase and install.

Closet Maid Customer Pic

It’s by Closet Maid. It’s the Impressions line. The beauty of this is that it can totally be customized to fit your space. This particular configuration is designed for closets from 5 to 10 feet wide.

I used this system at our last home…it was perfect. And I have every intention of putting this system in the closets at my new place, too.  Just haven’t done that, yet.

If you have a big walk-in closet (unlikely in a small space but not unheard of) you could do this:

Closet Maid walk in

  • This system has drawers, shelves, and rods in many configurations.
  • There’s an installation guide and you can get it with or without drawers.
  • There are shoe racks and corner shelves…you name it.

The point is, you can make this work whatever your situation.  It’s affordable and has so many good reviews.

I would love to have your thoughts on these suggestions and any unique solutions that might be working for you, too.

Using Mirrors in Small Spaces

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Why You Should Use Mirrors in Small Spaces

Regardless of the size of the room, light is an important element in home decor. Light enhances the furnishings and the colors in the room. Natural light is ideal but sometimes it’s lacking in a space so including mirrors in room design is a favorite choice by many interior designers.

Mirrors and Light

Using mirrors in small spaces is an effective way to enhance the size and depth of the room by reflecting the natural light. Mirrors give the illusion of more space and add to the decor without adding clutter.

Where to Use Mirrors to Their Best Advantage

  • If you can hang a mirror opposite a window, go for it.  It will reflect the most light.
  • Using mirrors in living and dining spaces is a first choice, if possible. For example, reflecting the table in a dining room creates the illusion of double the food. That creates a feng shui symbol that signifies wealth and abundance.
  • Reflecting a pretty outside view brings energy into the room and it’s said that prosperity is signified by a reflection of water.
  • Placing a mirror in the entryway along with a chair or bench is a long standing tradition. If the foyer is small, a mirror gives the illusion of space plus a place to check your appearance before leaving home.
  • Never place a mirror to reflect something unappealing…you don’t want to reflect a toilet in a bathroom or the trash container in a kitchen.

Mirror Size and Shape are Considerations

So what size should you choose?  Well, it depends…

A large, floor mirror in between two windows gives the illusion of another window. But placing a large mirror across from a living room window is also a fine idea.

Put a mirror inside a bookcase or propped against the wall on a fireplace mantle. Placing a mirror inside a non-working fireplace is a wonderful way to open up and bring extra light into a small room.

A round mirror will bring relief to a room that has an abundance of sharp corners.

Mirrored furniture should be used judiciously but that’s an option, as well. Mirrored end tables or chests are good choices.
So there you go… just a few suggestions for using mirrors to maximize your small space!  You might want to check out a selection of Chic Modern Mirrors To Complete Your Wall at Dot & Bo.  I love that site!
If you’ve already used mirrors in a unique way, I would love to include your ideas, too.   And, as always, thanks for stopping by!
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