5 design principles you need to follow in your small space

Do you ever look around your space and just wonder *how does this work?* Trust me, I do - a lot. For me, the most important thing is to *feel* comfortable in my home. A big part of that is considering design principles when I decorate so I can create my *best* home. These principles are the *relationships* that elements have to each other.

Every space - big or small - should have a focal point, or an item in the room that dominates the eye and allows for arrangement around it. Many living rooms use the fireplace or windows as a focal point and in bedrooms, yep, the headboard often is the focal point. In my bedroom, my d.i.y. headboard pulls the room together and makes my space feel comfortable. And a tip about focal points - you create it! So if your main room is missing a focal point or you don't like the obvious one (say you don't care for the fireplace), make a statement and balance beyond it. Arrange your room around a main item that you want to showcase. 

Ah, yes, my favorite design principle. Balancing your small space is key to feeling good in your home. Balance provides a feeling of equilibrium. There's different types of balance that work too - symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial balance. The latter two are a controlled placement so it feels ok in the space. In the photo above, the shelves create lines and balance in the space, allowing for a very comfortable vibe even though there's lot of stuff in there. It just works!

The design in your space doesn't at all have to *match* but it should all connect in some way to strengthen the composition (or layout) of your space. I love the look of this seating zone for a small space. There's a lot going on - decor, color, style - but it feels connected and, overall, creates one zone or area. 

Although you may have smaller square footage, it's important to consider how your furniture, decor and the actual layout of the room relate to each other in terms of size. Proportion and scale definitely go hand in hand. Proportion is the relation of one element to the other and scale is the actual relationship of size between items. For proportion in my small space, I showed you guys a photo of my living room. I knew that I wanted the look of built-in units in my home for storage and because the room is rectangular. I need something vertical to make the space proportion to the large bank of windows on the opposite side of the room. The scale in the seating area above (one of my fave's that I snapped at the Parker when I was in PS a few months ago) works. I love how the pieces of furniture make sense together - although they are different shapes and sizes.

:: images by 1. Typefiend 2. A Country House 3. me 4. Typefiend 5. me ::



10 Responses to "5 design principles you need to follow in your small space"

StarletStarlet said... 1/31/2011

Ahhh, just in time when I'm about to work on my 11 x 10.5 office / guest bedroom!!!

Invaluable read, thank you!

Unknown said... 1/31/2011

Great tips!! Small spaces can be hard to plan sometimes, so it's always great to find good advice :)

Sheryl J. said... 1/31/2011

Loved the design inspiration. Where did you get your couch from? Love the color and it looks comfortable and fitting for the space.

Vanessa Elizabeth said... 1/31/2011

Great tips! I also like the concept of emphasis.

Liz said... 2/01/2011

Just in time for my Feb 1 move in date! My new apartment is a studio and although I've been living in a small apartment for a couple of years (with roommates) I think its going to be a challenge to adequately design the space myself. Thank you so much for these useful tips and I love your site!

Nathan Mattox said... 2/01/2011

Did you know the blog was mentioned in "The Week" Jan. 28 edition? I'm going to link you to my sis who lives in a small space in Boston. We had a small space when we lived in LA, but now are spread out in Oklahoma. Thanks!

loving. living. small. said... 2/02/2011

Nathan - yes, a few people turned me on to THE WEEK mention - very cool!

Sheryl J. - the couch is IKEA Krammfor and now discontinued.

A lot of you are moving in to small spaces soon it seems - good luck! I am sure they will all look amazing :)

Cynthia at Coffee On The Patio said... 2/03/2011

Such great advice. I really like your blog - lots of inspiration. I've lived in "cottages" most of my adult life and always have loved them.


di0nyb said... 2/06/2011

Hi new reader here I just found your blog a few days ago. Slowly working my way back through your archive and I really enjoyed your recap of 2010 Keep up your good work

annie said... 2/13/2011

thks for the tips! i really need them right now.


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