True or false: An all-white color palette will make an apartment look larger. False! This is a common misconception of small-space design, along with the idea that less furniture makes an apartment feel larger. Instead, carefully placed furnishings and carefully chosen color can create an inviting space with style way beyond its diminutive size.
The number one color rule for a small space? There are no rules — really. If you want your apartment to look like your favorite Pucci scarf, do your thing. The goal should always be to make your rented space personal and appeal to you. Having said that, the experts who deal with color and interior design all the time do know a thing or two. Here are their tips and tricks.
One of the best ways to expand a space is with very clear colors, says designer Mark McCauley, ASID, author of Interior Design for Idiots. “Choose a palette of sharper colors as opposed to duller ones. Sharp as in bright chintzes mixed with colorful plaids or really hot reds and electric blues, yellows and greens (with plenty of air between the pieces). Color combinations with negative space in between will enhance the space’s clarity and openness.”
Bring splashes of color to a radiator, the inside of a bookshelf or a windowsill to bring excitement and depth to a room. If you’re lucky enough to have a foyer or hall, paint that a dark color and ease into a lighter shades in the living room, which will make it feel more spacious by comparison.
While some designers frown on the idea of painting one wall a different or deeper color than the others, it can work wonders in a small space, says designer and actress Libby Langdon, a contributor to HGTV’s Small Space, Big Style. “Don’t be afraid of bold colors,” she says. “Sometimes a darker color on one wall can make it recede, making the space look larger.”
Just as different wall colors can divide your apartment into different work areas, different shades of the same color can unite all the rooms, as can a pattern that’s repeated. “In a small space, in particular, these little touches — the pillow that matches the lampshade fabric, the style of the mirror that echoes a side table — can all add up to a cohesive space,” McCauley says.
Apartment kitchens are a great place to use color, says kitchen designer Jason Laudau of Amazing Spaces, LLC (www.amazingspacesllc.com) in New York. “Hang up the china you never use — it saves space, adds color and glams up the kitchen,” he says. “Or be very bold and paint the walls a trendy color. Red is hot!”
Sure, something pastel in the peachy-pink palette will look great in the bathroom — especially when you look in the mirror and see your rosy complexion. But for major affect, increase the bodacious scale. That’s what designer Ron Marvin www.ronmarvin.com (www.ronmarvin.com) did in his New York City apartment bathroom that’s painted a rich, chocolate brown.
What About Faux Finishing
Beautiful faux texture paint finishes and specialty techniques can add a lot of character to a small space, says designer Dawn Burns-Pratt, ASID. “Painting the ceiling a darker color and extending the same color down the wall about 14 inches, or using metallic stripes in that same space with a chair rail and lighter color below looks terrific — and expands the appearance of the space,” she says.
The wonderful thing about color is that it’s a really cheap way to decorate, and it can be added in non-paint ways, says designer Alice Fakier, this year’sHGTV Design Star runner-up and host of Ask Alice on HGTV.com. “Apartment dwellers can get color on their walls by painting big canvases, hanging fabric or using wall decals,” she says. And when you’re ready for a larger space? You can take your color with you and go.
Draw the eye up with a wall of colorful stripes, says Langdon. Or paint the ceiling a lighter color than the walls to make it seem airier.
Whatever colors you choose for your small space, add one object that is black, says designer McCauley. “The black item — say, in a torchere lamp or a frame — will help ground the space and clarify the other colors. Try it, it works!”. Contact us, Decorfin USA, to help choose the best decorative plaster, faux paint finishes or venetian plaster in New York City.