With housing costs on a steady increase in the Bay Area, many people are opting for smaller, more affordable spaces, or even cohabitation with friends or extended family members. While these moves can add some breathing room to your budget, you may find it difficult to decorate the way you used to! Here are some of the biggest mistakes we see people make when decorating their new, smaller homes:
#1: Trying to cram it all in
If you have just recently downsized, you may be trying to fit all your old furniture and home accessories into too small of a space. Even though a smaller room doesn’t necessarily mean you need smaller furniture, it does mean you have to be strategic about how many objects you try to fit in.
If you’re in love with your, keep it! But you may not be able to comfortably fit in two side tables, oversized coffee table, and giant entertainment center as well. Instead, try replacing your side tables with some coordinating , and your coffee table with some nesting tables or an ottoman. And ditch your entertainment center in favor of a wall-mounted TV.
Similarly, your small space will look even smaller if you fill it with too many knick knacks and small accessories. While these decorations may look cute and cozy in a bigger house, they can end up looking like clutter in an apartment or condo. Smaller rooms look better with a few statement pieces.
#2: Not enough light
Have you ever noticed how real estate listings online are full of bright photos that make rooms look giant? One way to make a room feel more open and airy is to incorporate more light—especially natural light! If your windows are dressed with heavy blackout curtains, you may be blocking sunlight from coming in and opening your space. Instead, find some light colored and translucent curtains which allow the sun to come through while still offering privacy.
Additionally, many people who are new to small space living make the mistake of using dark colors, like navy and plum, to color their walls and floors. These dark colors absorb light and can make a room feel more enclosed than it really is. On the other hand, light and bright colors reflect light to make a room look bigger.
This may sound obvious, but you should also ensure you have enough lamps and ceiling lights in each room as well. Even if your room has big windows that allow sunlight to flood in, your evenings and early mornings may be dark without adequate interior lighting. We also suggest using LED bulbs instead of traditional light bulbs, as these are brighter, more energy efficient, and better mimic natural light.
#3: Ignoring storage options
Even if you don’t feel like you own a lot of stuff, your belongings can easily look like clutter in a small space if they aren’t contained in attractive ways. For example, if you have a bunch of remotes for your television, DVD player, cable box, and video game consoles, these can look tacky laid out across your coffee table. However, you can keep them all handy and easy to reach inside a pretty storage bin on your shelf, or in a drawer of your side table, and instantly add more visual space to the room.
If you feel like you don’t have enough storage space in a room, consider any wasted vertical space you may be ignoring. In your kitchen, use cabinets which reach all the way up to the ceiling. In other rooms, you can add floating shelves to the walls instead of taking away floor space with bookshelves, buffet tables, or cabinets.
Finally, be strategic about the furniture you use! Instead of using a standard coffee table in your living room, consider using a big, hollow ottoman that can store books inside. Use end tables which include several shelves, instead of just one top surface. And consider investing in a new bed which includes drawers under the mattress.
#4: Too much to take in
Maybe you’ve nailed everything else on this list—you have just a few key pieces of furniture in each room, lots of light, and plenty of attractive storage for your odds and ends. But it may all be for naught if you have too much going on visually! When your room looks “busy,” your eyes may have trouble seeing a cohesive, open space.
To avoid this problem, try to keep it simple. Use only a few patterns you really love in your walls, furniture, and accessories. And try not to use patterns with too many details and colors, such as intricate floral wallpaper. Instead, use bold, geometric patterns which are easy to look absorb.
Also, try to stick to one color scheme across rooms which flow into each other. For example, if your kitchen has a doorway to the living room, use the same basic colors for both rooms. Using common colors between intersecting rooms can create the illusion of a more open floor plan, whereas using drastically different shades can look disjointed.
Need more help planning your new space? Find one of our sales associates at our San Francisco, Redwood City, or San Rafael showrooms. Or feel free to check out our custom furniture options online at!