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Small space decorating ideas

From the Resene decorating blog

Most of us have at least one small space in the home that can be tricky to maximise with a beautiful statement. Here are some tips on how to make those small spaces big on style.

A moody green lounge

Moody, with a hint of vitality, deep velvet hue of Resene Palm Green used walls creates a cosiness in a lounge. The floor is in Resene Greige, cabinet in Resene Double Spanish White with stripes in Resene Vintage, large plant pot in Resene Palm Green, small plant pot in Resene Cutty Sark and books in Resene Deep Teal and Resene Rivergum. Project by Annick Larkin and image by Bryce Carleton.

Often these awkward spaces have more potential than we think. If you have an odd, unused or dead space in part of your home, maybe it’s time to stop walking past it, and embrace it instead!

Do you have a tricky corner that would benefit from bespoke shelving painted in an on-trend green-blue? Or is your forgotten under-stair area screaming to be reworked into a storage cupboard in a mood-enhancing colour? Either way, the benefit of creating storage out of unused space and decorating it in an eye-catching way is two-fold.

When it comes to an entire room that is on the small side, it can be hard to know how to approach decorating it. Many of us instinctively opt to paint it white. While there is an array of beautiful white shades, there are plenty of colours available that suit small rooms.

Decide on the objective of your small space before choosing the colour. “Do you want your room to feel more intimate?” asks Laura Heynike, director of Pocketspace Interiors. “If you want your media room to feel cosy, opt for a darker hue,” she says. “Alternatively, you may want a lighter colour in a lounge to draw the eye further out to the perimeter of the room. This doesn't mean you must have white walls only, just soft palettes that allow your eye to work that way.”

Get playful; dark hues can create depth. We all love a nurturing, cocoon-like space, so get cosy with on-trend hues such as rich, chocolatey Resene Monkey, the calming regal navy of Resene Licorice, earthy grey Resene Armadillo or Resene Cinnamon. Continue painting your chosen colour from the walls up across the ceiling too, for a comforting sense of protection.

Add tactile textures amongst pools of layered light by way of table and floor lamps. The key, if you are painting a small room in a dark hue, is to accent it with elegant items with shiny surfaces or bright colours to lift the space. Mirrors are a useful way to reflect light back into your room too, and the placement of light-toned furniture will help enhance the sense of space. Tie in side or coffee tables in complementary colours such as Resene Cargo, Resene Kilamanjaro or Resene Clover.

More of us are adding our personal touch with the way we use paint. Get creative and have a go at painting a mural. It might be on your child’s nursery wall, family office nook or a small living area. It will allow your eye to draw up and around the room as it provides visual interest and depth, making the room feel larger. Try creating an illustration in Resene Bingo and Resene Apache against a neutral Resene Merino background.

An intimate and warm earthy tan lounge

Intimate and warm, an earthy tan such as Resene Gold Coast evokes a sense of softness and relaxation. Walls in Resene Gold Coast, floor in Resene Pendragon and Resene Hairy Heath, hall table in Resene Noir, nesting tables in Resene Hairy Heath (large), Resene Pendragon (medium) and Resene Gold Coast (small) with legs in Resene Noir, vase (with twigs) in Resene Hairy Heath and candlesticks in Resene Noir. Project by Melle Van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

Brenda Ngatai, Colour Consultant at Resene believes a small separate space gives far more colour options than an open-plan space. “Separate rooms provide opportunity,” she says. “You could go bold or dark in colour, full wallpaper or a wall mural. Choose patterns that are current – such as tropicals in leaf or florals – but oversized, as long as the colours connect with the overall palette.”

A dramatic, dark colour will enhance rooms in which we don’t spend much time, either because we are always passing through it (an entranceway) or briefly visiting (a powder room), according to Penny Fussell, interior designer at Home Creative.

“When used effectively, tones can be repeated throughout the house to create a colour story for your home,” she says. “For those spaces in which we need to relax and close down at the end of the day, dark colours can enhance the cosiness of a room, such as a television room or sitting room.“

Varied tones are livening up smaller kitchens too. "We’re enhancing coloured cabinetry again," says Laura Heynike, director of Pocketspace Interiors. “Try a Resene colour on kitchen cabinets but go a tone darker than the surrounding wall colour, staying in the same family. For instance, use Resene Eighth Truffle on the wall and Resene Truffle on the cabinetry to bring depth, or vice versa.”

When artist Greer Clayton painted her small family bach Resene Double Sea Fog, it made an immediately lighter and more spacious impact on the timber Lockwood home. “We didn’t want to miss out on bringing in some colour, so the kitchen cupboards were painted in Resene Pale Leaf and the red benchtops were painted in Resene Alabaster. Go for colour, even if the space is small. If you are drawn to a colour, then I say go for it. Paint is transformative, and colour is intuitive, so there is no right or wrong. Just enjoy the change!”

If your small room has a vista out to trees or a garden or trees, an easy green such as Resene Linen will provide a seamless link outdoors. Coupled with plenty of lush potted plants indoors, the link between inside and out will feel smooth, thus enhancing the space of your room. Often, when using colour in a small room, painting the trims can make the walls feel taller than they are too. Or if you prefer the contrast with colour, a crisp white such as Resene Wan White can enhance your wall colour.

Prefer lighter shades? Beautiful blue-greens are perfect for creating the illusion of space in a room – try Resene Ziggurat or Resene Gulf Stream, complemented by Resene Foam or Resene Jet Stream on furniture or accents. These light and uplifting tones will encourage the eye to look out, enhancing the sense of space in a calming, tranquil way. And if sweet, creamy neutrals are your heart’s desire, brighten your room with Resene Quarter Pearl Lusta or Resene Gin Fizz, making it feel more spacious than it is.

Some may feel put off decorating a small room, in fear of getting it wrong. But these rooms are just as worthy of looking beautiful as larger rooms, and with the right approach can hold their own within an eye-catching home.

A serene dressing room

A restful and soothing bedroom

Dressing room: The dark, inner wall (in Resene Dark Slate) of this serene dressing-room brings depth to the small space. With lighter blues on the front walls (in Resene Hermitage and Resene Destiny), the contrast provides a visual lift. The pendant light is in Resene Zumthor, desk in Resene Destiny, trims in Resene Sea Fog, boxes in Resene Hammerhead and Resene Zumthor, vase in Resene Zumthor and floor in Resene Colorwood Whitewash. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.  Bedroom: A restful, soothing base of Resene Eighth Stonehenge (on the main wall) and Resene Half Gin Fizz (on the return wall at right) welcomes livelier accents. Resene Corvette is on the lamp and mirror, Resene Ebony Clay on the shelf and skirting board, Resene Double Stonehenge on the headboard, Resene Corvette (bottom) and Resene Half Barely There (side pockets) of the tote bag. Vases on chair are in Resene Double Stonehenge (tall), Resene Half Barely There and Resene Cinnamon (small). The floor is in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Noir

October 29, 2020

For more ideas and inspiration for your home inside and out, see the Resene Inspiration Gallery online then visit your Resene ColorShop for all the expert advice and products you need to get your decorating projects done.

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