Decorating a small space can be a challenging task, especially if you are not aware of the latest trends and techniques. For decades, interior designers have followed certain rules and guidelines when it comes to decorating small spaces. These rules were created to maximize the visual space and create an illusion of a larger area. However, with the changing times and evolving tastes of homeowners, these rules have become outdated and irrelevant.

Outdated Rule #1: Use Light Colors Only

One of the most common outdated rules for decorating small spaces is to use light colors only. While it’s true that light colors can make a space feel larger and more open, it’s not the only option. In fact, using dark colors strategically can actually make your space feel more cozy and intimate. Consider painting one wall a dark color or using a dark accent rug to add some depth and dimension to your space.

This gorgeous green formal living space features a green fireplace mantel framing a marble surround and fixed against a wall clad in green vertical stripe wallpaper. A gold French mirror hangs above the fireplace and between oil-rubbed bronze 2-light sconces. A brass directoire accent table is flanked by green wingback chairs.
Photo Credit: Andrew J Howard

Outdated Rule #2: Stick to Small Furniture

Another outdated rule for decorating small spaces is to stick to small furniture. While it’s true that you don’t want to overwhelm your space with oversized furniture, using a few larger pieces can actually make your space feel more grand. For example, a large sectional sofa can anchor your living room and make it feel more inviting, while a large statement piece of art can add some drama to your walls.

A white twin bed with trundle designed in a nautical theme dressed in red, white and blue striped bedding. Corner bedroom windows dressed with white roman shades are flanked by red industrial sconces complimenting a round red and navy blue rug layered with wood floors.
Photo Credit: Change & Co

Outdated Rule #3: Avoid Patterns

Many people believe that patterns should be avoided when decorating small spaces, as they can make the space feel busy and cluttered. However, there are plenty of ways to incorporate patterns into your small space without overwhelming it. Consider using a large patterned rug or a few patterned throw pillows to add some visual interest without going overboard.

A crash pad with a white ladder leading up to a Pied-A-Terre, featuring blue chevron carpet tiles, a small wood table, chairs, and throw pillows in varying colors on the floor.
Photo Credit: Dear Genevieve “Crash Pad to Pied-A-Terre”

Outdated Rule #4: Keep Things Minimal

Many people believe that small spaces should be kept minimal in order to avoid clutter and chaos. While it’s true that you don’t want to overcrowd your space, there’s no reason why you can’t display a few of your favorite items. Consider creating a gallery wall with your favorite art pieces or displaying a few cherished family photos on a shelf. These personal touches can make your small space feel more like home.

Classically restored 1930s bungalow, featuring bunny williams lamp, oly studio astro table, Cecilia chair, Moroccan rug, pale gray walls, leather ottoman, and hickory chair sofa.
Photo Credit: Studio MH

Outdated Rule #5: Keep Everything at Eye Level

While it’s true that eye-level decorations can add visual interest, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the space above or below. Using tall bookcases or hanging artwork higher up on the wall can draw the eye upward and make the space feel larger.

A small bed with white and grey bedding positioned above the living space that includes a small kitchen, modern chair, white desk, and bookshelf.
Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

Outdated Rule #6: Avoid Mirrors

While mirrors can reflect light and make a space feel larger, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them altogether. In fact, using a large mirror can add depth and dimension to a small space.

Chic powder room features a black door opening to reveal subtle white and gray floral motif wallpaper highlighting a modern white mirror mounted above an aqua blue glass mini brick tiled backsplash trimmed with black pencil tile framing a mini wall mount sink with modern wall mount faucet.
Photo Credit: Angela Free Design

Outdated Rule #7: Use Only Small Artwork

While small artwork can help make a space feel less cluttered, that doesn’t mean you should avoid larger pieces altogether. In fact, using a statement piece of art can add visual interest and draw the eye upward, making the space feel larger.

Cabin-styled angled mudroom features mesh lockers, a small built-in window bench, and herringbone floors.
Photo Credits: House Of Jade Interiors

While there are certain rules that have been passed down through the years regarding decorating small spaces, it’s important to remember that not all of them are applicable in today’s modern world. By mixing and matching styles, using warm and cozy colors, and incorporating larger accessories and artwork, you can create a small space that is both functional and stylish.

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