scorecardThe biggest mistake people make when decorating small spaces, according to experts
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The biggest mistake people make when decorating small spaces, according to experts

Samantha Grindell   

The biggest mistake people make when decorating small spaces, according to experts
LifeThelife2 min read
  • Many people think they should fill small spaces with a lot of compact furniture.
  • But experts at Apartment Therapy's Small/Cool NYC showcase told Insider that's often a mistake.

If you live in a small space, it might be your instinct to think small when decorating your home.

You might find yourself googling "small couch" or "small kitchen table," searching for ways to cram a multitude of different pieces into your limited square footage.

But according to two experts, downsizing everything could be a mistake as you furnish your new space.

Insider spoke to Apartment Therapy editor-in-chief Laura Schocker and interior designer and HGTV star Carmeon Hamilton at the launch of Apartment Therapy's "Small/Cool NYC" showcase, an in-person event designed to show that living in a small space doesn't mean your home has to be less beautiful or comforting than a large home.

The showcase, which runs from April 22 to May 15, features multiple 120-square-foot rooms designed by experts like Hamilton that highlight the multitude of ways you can make a small space your own.

"It's showing people what's possible, no matter what size your spaces, no matter what your budget is," Hamilton said of Small/Cool. "You can go all out on design or curate spaces that are very personal to you no matter what your resources are."

When asked about mistakes people make when decorating a small space, both Hamilton and Schocker had the same answer: small furniture.

"One of the biggest mistakes that people make in a small space is going small on their furniture, like trying to dumb down the scale of their furniture," Hamilton told Insider. "That is the first and fastest way to make your space look like a dollhouse."

"I think people sometimes buy small furniture because they think it'll fit the space better, but then it just makes everything look smaller," Schocker agreed.

Rather than making it look larger, a room full of small pieces can end up looking cluttered. Plus, small furniture will just emphasize that the space itself is small.

Schocker went on to say that people make the same mistake with rugs, accidentally emphasizing the lower square footage by getting a rug that isn't big enough.

"Get regular-sized furniture and make those pieces work in the space that you have," Hamilton advised people who are furnishing small spaces. "Especially your main pieces, like your bed. And if you need to scale down on your side table or your nightstands, then that's the way to go."

Hamilton took that approach to the space she designed for Small/Cool, putting a full-sized bed in the 120-square-foot space with smaller nightstands next to it.

The rug and chairs were also full-sized, while the side table was smaller, creating a functional space that feels larger than it is.

Hamilton also made the most of the space by hanging lights above the nightstands rather than using traditional table lamps.

"You free up the surface space for decorative things or more storage, so your lights are actually unobtrusive," she said of the creative lights.

Hamilton's clever decor was the exact kind of out-of-the-box thinking Schocker was hoping Small/Cool would emphasize.

"In small spaces, we unlock creativity," Shocker said. "It makes you think really critically about what the special pieces that you actually want are."

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