16 smart strategies for small-home décor

In a small space, being creative with color, materials, and layout yields big payoffs—and savings

Before

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Before getting creative

At the height of Seattle’s real estate market in 2003, when Leah and Chad Steen bought their first home, the property was far from picture perfect. “There was no landscaping; the previous owners even left us a note about the sad-looking Charlie Brown tree in the front yard,” says Leah, who owns Revival Home & Garden (revivalhomeandgarden.com), a shop in Capitol Hill. “But the house had tons of character, and there weren’t holes in the ceiling, like other places we’d seen.”

The early-1900s house’s footprint (1,300 square feet) is small, and the high sticker price left little cash for decorating. But limits only bred creativity. “Designing a small space means you can be discriminating, and vibrant decor updates don’t have to be pricey, just imaginative,” says Leah. Besides, “when I met Chad, he was living part-time in a VW bus, so this was definitely a step up for him.”

Strategies: Pair contrasting colors for pop

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Strategies: Pair contrasting colors for pop

The front yard—once patchy grass and a parking strip—is now defined by bright boxwood, comple­menting the house’s purple paint. Chad built the side gate from salvaged metal.

Mix high and low

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Mix high and low

Inexpensive furniture mingles with high-end touches in the living room: Ikea curtains hang on plumbing pipe behind a $1,200 chandelier from Leah’s shop; custom pillows sit atop a bargain (at $579) settee from Urban Outfitters; a hand-painted chinoi­serie coffee table rests on an old Pakistani rug ($85 on eBay). 

 

Update secondhand furnishings

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Update secondhand furnishings

A $10 framed mirror from Goodwill reads “high class” with a couple of coats of high-gloss red paint.

Find treasures at thrift stores

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Find treasures at thrift stores

This large oil painting was just $2 from Second Use (seconduse.com).

Add fancy touches in small doses

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Add fancy touches in small doses

The back of a $40 thrift store couch was updated with just a few yards of Leah’s favorite fabric (Chiang Mai Dragon in Alabaster by Schumacher; $206/yard; fschumacher.com).

Create multi-purpose areas

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Create multi-purpose areas

With no proper dining room, the breakfast nook functions as such—and doubles as an art table for the Steens’ two daughters. Thankfully, the vinyl cushions are specially treated to resist ink “and basically everything known to man,” says Leah. The benches provide storage space under their hinged lids. Bold wallpaper (Chinatown Toile by Flavor Paper; $150/15-ft.roll; flavorleague.com) accents a single wall. “In a small house, sometimes touches have to be small, like with patterned wallpaper and fabric,” Leah says.

Repurpose furniture

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Repurpose furniture

An old candy making table serves as a mobile kitchen island.

Create attractive storage space

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Create attractive storage space

A tray atop a narrow storage cabinet between the living area and the kitchen (really one continuous room) holds ingredients for cocktails.

Mix art

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Mix art

A mix of inexpensive art—from eBay, Goodwill, and 5-year-old Piper—hangs above an old (and well-washed) fire hydrant that serves as a sculpture.

Use wallpaper as artwork

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Use wallpaper as artwork

In 2-year-old Romy’s bedroom, playful wallpaper graces a single wall—a nice technique for a small space.

Be bold with color

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Be bold with color

Five-year-old Piper’s bedroom is a cheerful orange—a happy hue on Seattle’s rainy days.

Shop salvage

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Shop salvage

The windows and door of the garage-turned-guesthouse came from Second Use (seconduse.com), one of Leah’s favorite local secondhand shops.

Reinvent materials

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Reinvent materials

Split concrete from the former backyard parking strip becomes pavers.

Showcase artful reuse

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Showcase artful reuse

The side yard gate was built from salvaged metal.

Recycle materials—and resources

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Recycle materials—and resources

A discarded syrup barrel becomes a rain water harvester.

More clever reimagining

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

More clever reimagining

Plumbing pipe from Pacific Indus­­trial Supply (pacificindustrial.com) becomes a garden gate.

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/home/decorating/creative-use-of-space-00418000071407/