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Suburban to Urban: Decorating Small Spaces

The early 2000s were almost synonymous with “bigger and better”, “suburban”, and “luxury”. Houses had rooms that were never used, additional space was wanted even if it wasn’t necessary, and people were leaving urban centers for “just around the corner” suburbs to achieve these goals without breaking the bank. The recession of 2008 and the world’s subsequent recovery, however, caused a dramatic shift in how many people think about housing – and how they prioritize their housing needs. If you spend a few hours watching HGTV – Home and Garden Television, you’ll see how many people regularly struggle to decide between staying within budget and maximizing space. You’ll see narrower rooms, taller homes, smaller spaces, more open concept layouts, and multi-purpose spaces (think: dining room and kitchen combined). With such a suburban to urban shift, decorating small spaces has become the norm for many interior decorators. In this post, we’ll discuss how decorating has changed from the early 2000s to today as well as how you can best position yourself to take advantage of the small, urban space niche market.

1. BudgetApartment living room

One might assume that a smaller space equals a smaller budget, and often times that’s true. However, the price of housing in an urban center, even if it’s small, is often much higher than a suburban one. So, while a space may require less actual decor, you might still find yourself working with a decently sized budget. Decorating a small apartment or condo will require more careful planning and space allocation, so you may even find yourself working longer on such a project than you would a larger space.

2. Goals

While the goal of larger homes is generally to tie the rooms together and to keep everything looking spacious, inviting, and luxurious, the goals of a smaller space are a little different. Most spaces will need to be multi-purposeful, meaning more than one activity can be carried out in a space. A living room might become a living room/office mixed use space. A kitchen might become a kitchen/dining mixed use space. The goals of a small space owner are generally to maximize the space available and take advantage of each room’s potential.

3. Colors

While larger spaces can get away with being decorated with darker colors, smaller spaces can end up looking even smaller when dark colors are introduced. Lighter colors produce a larger feeling space, more airy environment, and are most commonly used in small urban spaces. Often, also, small spaces are very open-concept and many different spaces are visible from a single area in a home. This means you want everything to flow and look as though it’s part of a single home, and want to avoid too much competing color or distraction.

4. Furniture

The size and amount of furniture you use within a space changes when you move from a large space to a small space. Suddenly, 5-seater sectionals are less convenient and take up far too much space. Arm chairs are unnecessary, and large sprawling coffee tables are awkward. King sized beds are downsized to queen, and 6-seater dining room table and chair sets aren’t really an option. Keep in mind the size of the space with which you’re working when selecting furniture, but be even more careful when you’re working with a small urban space – particularly one with mixed-use rooms.

To learn more about interior decorating and the very lucrative design industry, visit QC Design School to learn about their at-home design courses.