A small matter
Homes & Gardens|February 2022
Increasing the sense of space in rooms that are small in stature is a design issue everyone wants to solve – we spoke to a few of our favourite interiors people to find out their solutions
KATE BURNETT

Living rooms

Ways to enhance the feeling of space and character

CHOOSING FURNISHINGS

‘Furnishings play an essential role in how a space is received. When working with less spacious living rooms, we recommend a considered curation of essential pieces – spreading a large rug as an anchor for the scheme and then building out from there, picking out tones from the rug and embellishing these throughout the room. A central table can create a focal point in a smaller room, best framed by inward facing armchairs which help create depth and volume.’

JAMES THURSTAN WATERWORTH, founder, Thurstan

‘Getting the furniture right in a living room is one of the biggest challenges in design. This needs to be a practical space, whether for watching TV or creating good conversation. What you choose needs to be stylish and contribute to the personality and harmony of the space. Inevitably, I find people often graduate to the smaller rooms of a house as they are more intimate and cosier, whereas big rooms can make you feel small and uncomfortable. Be bold with your little space and use large-scale furniture sparingly to give the illusion that the room is grander than it is.’

MIKE FISHER, creative director and founder, Studio Indigo

‘People often assume they should buy small-scale furniture for small rooms, but that actually makes a space feel smaller. Don’t be afraid to fill the room - get a rug that fully sits under all your furniture, and don’t buy a love seat if you can actually fit a three-seater sofa in the room. Not only will buying larger scale furniture look better, it will also make your experience of the space so much more comfortable: win-win!’

SHEENA MURPHY, partner, Nune

‘It is worth noting that a pair of armchairs can often take up more space than a small sofa. Certainly, a smaller armless sofa, complete with a little side table to put down a drink, and a floor lamp rather than a table lamp can be a much better use of space.’

LONIKA CHANDE, founder and creative director, Lonika Chande

WORKING WITH COLOUR

‘When a single colour is used on both walls and woodwork, a room suddenly feels bigger because having no contrast means that you are less aware of the confines of the space. The eye does not stop to register a second colour and glides straight out of the window to the view, blending the garden and room together.’

JOA STUDHOLME, colour curator, Farrow & Ball

USING PATTERN

‘The living room is a communal space and should reflect everyone who lives in the house. It is a room where we socialise, entertain and relax so the design should be functional, but also fun. I like to play with pattern and colour here. For example, I might use patterned scatter cushions on a sofa alongside occasional chairs and pouffes upholstered in fabrics of your choice. These themes can then be echoed in accessories such as ornaments with colourful designs.

EVA SONAIKE, creative director, Eva Sonaike

CLEVER LIGHTING

‘Some people feel the need to flood small spaces with ceiling lights to make them feel brighter and therefore larger. However, I think atmosphere and dimension can be added to small spaces with different levels of controlled lighting. The lowest level might be lamps on side tables; the next would be lamps on a desk, console or chest. Finally, add fewer rather than more directional ceiling lights, positioned closer to the walls and angled away from the centre of the room to create a feature glow on, for example, a piece of wall art.’

CLAIRE SA, director, De Rosee Sa

Studio Indigo (top left) believes using some large furnishings evokes a feeling of grandeur. In this modest room (top right) Salvesen Graham fit in a work area. This scheme by Nune (bottom left) includes a striped rug to create the illusion of a wider space. Thurstan studio used a table with chairs facing towards it to establish depth and volume.

Bedrooms

Good design can make a small sleep space a sanctuary

WORKING WITH COLOUR

‘For me, rule one in a bedroom is to paint the ceiling the same colour as the walls. Who wants to lie in bed looking at a white ceiling? It’s much better to create a space that feels as if it’s cocooning you, and of course this will make even the tiniest space feel bigger because you can’t tell where the walls end and the ceiling begins. Cupboards should also be painted the same colour as the walls, to avoid them being too prominent.’

JOA STUDHOLME, colour curator, Farrow & Ball

‘We would usually lean towards quieter palette combinations, but darker shades can work really well within smaller spaces. They create a perception of depth and lend a cosy, cocoon-like feel – welcome in every bedroom. For the walls, we suggest a deep midnight blue or a petrol green, then lift this by layering careful accents of colour, perhaps a burnt orange or a similar earth-toned hue – ochre, terracotta or a softer peach.’

JAMES THURSTAN WATERWORTH, founder, Thurstan

USING PATTERN

‘Layering patterns of a similar scale and tone will distract from a room feeling small, and ensure it feels cosy and inviting. Nothing should shout louder than anything else, so that the eye is not drawn to one feature and the space will not feel too busy.’

MARY GRAHAM AND NICOLE SALVESEN, founders, Salvesen Graham

‘In this tiniest of bedrooms (far right), to make the most of the space, I created a bed nook on the side of the room where the sloped ceiling became very low. I then filled it with a lively pattern to set it apart from the rest of the room, although the colours used in the fabric, cushions, wallpaper and furniture subtly echo each other to give a sense of structure to the space.’

SARAH PEAKE, founder and creative director, Studio Peake

CLEVER LIGHTING

‘In small bedrooms I really like using wall lights as opposed to table lamps for bedside lighting. Smaller rooms inevitably call for smaller bedside tables and when the full surface is taken up by a table lamp it just seems to defeat the object. There’s such a wealth of amazing wall light options available, whether wired or plug in – they really allow us to add a statement to the space as well as maximise the surface available for the bits and bobs we like to store beside the bed.’

IRENE GUNTER, founder and creative director, Gunter & Co

‘Lighting is one of the most important elements, particularly in a bedroom. A small bedroom can be incredibly inviting and considered lighting can take a room from feeling stark and pokey to sweet and cosy. Our number one rule is to add dimmers to all light switches so you can adjust the mood, and having one decorative light overhead (no recessed lighting) and two bedside lamps – if space permits – is preferred, so again, you can amp up or soften the ambience, according to how you feel.’

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM HOMES & GARDENSView All

Colour of the month

Lilac in all its infinite shades is being embraced by the interiors world - some see it as the new grey and here insiders reveal its beauty and the best way to use it

2 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

Back to nature

Dappled sunlight, fragrant flowers, a warm breeze - it's time to refresh our outdoor spaces

6 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

IN FULL BLOOM

LEGENDARY TEXTILE DESIGNER TRICIA GUILD'S WORK CELEBRATES THE BEAUTY OF NATURE - HERE SHE LOOKS AT THE COLOUR, SHAPE, AND FORM OF FLOWERS AND HOW THEY GIVE SOUL TO THE SPACES WE LIVE IN

2 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

Changing tides

The coastal look has been deconstructed to something altogether more minimalist but with a warmth that is as alluring as the sea

3 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

COMING OF AGE

This Edwardian townhouse has matured into something quite beautiful with just the right amount of pattern, colour and bold designs

4 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

Modern heritage style

There's a nostalgic mood in interiors now - stylist Selina Lake talks us through rooms that have this timeless look

2 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

Table talk

This summer, all the stylish garden parties will be a bounty of colour, pattern and, of course, blooms

2 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

Pasta perfection

Discover the taste of Italy with these recipes from the Amalfi Coast

6 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL

International interior design duo Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen's Sussex garden is designed to captivate all year round

3 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022

UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN

The renovation of an unloved Italian villa resulted in a home that is, in every sense, a little piece of paradise

4 mins read
Homes & Gardens
June 2022