7 Mistakes You're Making When Decorating a Small Room, According to Designers

Mistake #1: Assuming Only Light and Bright Colors Will Do

“People assume that if a room is small, it needs to be light and bright to make it feel larger,” Andi Morse of Morse Design says. “But, I prefer to lean into a small space and make it dark and moody, creating an even cozier ambiance.” This includes painting the ceiling the same color as the walls to make the room “all-encompassing,” she says.

Mistake #2: Relying Too Much on Overhead Lighting

Don’t just add an overhead light fixture to a small room and call it a day. Morse advises adding ambient lighting to the corners of the room. For example, you could add a tall, slim lamp that won’t take up much floor space. Lauren agrees. “Poor or harsh lighting can create shadows and dark corners,” she says, which will only shrink a room's appearance.

Mistake #3: Selecting All Small Furniture

You’re right to think in compact terms when furnishing a small room, but not every piece has to be made for a dollhouse. “Opt to include large pieces mixed in with smaller ones,” Morse says. “If done correctly, the room will not feel small.

Mistake #4: Installing Tiles and Flooring the Wrong Way

You could be going quite literally in the wrong direction with your flooring in small rooms, especially with tile in a tiny bathroom. “Tile orientation can greatly influence the perceived dimensions of a room,” Lauren says.

Mistake #5: Selecting Single-Purpose Items

Multipurpose and multifunctional is the name of the game when designing small spaces, says Barrett Oswald, the principal designer of Barrett Oswald Designs. Otherwise, you’ll simply crowd the space with unnecessary items.

Mistake #6: Not Maximizing Wall Space for Storage

When floor space is at a minimum, so is storage space. Here’s an off-the-wall idea: use the wall. Rather than add more furniture or cover up surfaces with too many bins and boxes, Oswald recommends mounting shelves on the wall for storage that is as stylish as it is functional.

Mistake #7: Fighting the Room’s Layout

Some small rooms make it even harder by not having four straight(ish) walls, but all is not lost—take heart, Cape Cod home dwellers!

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