How to Use Color in Small Spaces

(Updated 7/23/2018)

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

Photo by – Look for living room design inspiration

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.

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.

(Updated 8/4/2018)

With an open kitchen & living room floor plan, especially in a small home, people are able to watch the news or visit with family or friends while cooking.

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

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.

Once you choose a focal point, you can separate the areas with a rug, wall color, dining tables, peninsulas, etc.

An area rug defines the living space in this open concept condo.

Another look at an open concept home in Brooklyn, New York.


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 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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