Proportion plays an important role when it comes to styling a room. Too large and it feels unwelcoming; too small and it appears crowded. Follow expert interior design tips to balance the challenge of differently sized spaces.
You need to feel comfortable in a space, and whether that space is large or small, what ensures comfort is the way a room relates to you. Successful interior design uses furniture and surfaces to balance the challenge of differently sized spaces and make them relatable.
Interior design expert Greg Natale, fills us in on the secret to styling large and small spaces.
The secret: It sounds so simple, yet many people get this wrong – a large space requires sizeable furniture and plenty of it. Don’t be afraid to fill a room with furniture – the last thing you want is a sprawling space that looks like an airport lounge. And furniture doesn’t always have to be about function – sometimes it can provide an ornamental display in itself. While you’re at it, bring a few pieces in from the walls to make your room feel cosier.
Furniture: In a spacious living room, a large, modular sofa works well and is a versatile option, accompanied by a coffee table, a sofa table, even a pair of side tables. Opt for strong silhouettes, for example large armchairs, or wide bedside tables and a standout headboard in the bedroom, or two island benches instead of one in the kitchen. A generous space allows you to introduce extra pieces of furniture such as étagères, consoles, sideboards and ottomans, and to create separate ‘breakout areas’ like a reading nook or desk space.
Walls and ceiling: Picture rails and pendant lights can help bring a high ceiling closer, while timber panelling or panels of wallpaper can break up an expanse of white wall. Darker paint or wallpaper choices can create a more intimate space, but make sure you have enough natural light to carry this look. Here is also a great chance to display large artworks or a cluster of smaller ones, or to install bookshelves and fill with eye-catching displays.
The secret: Working with a small space is not about reducing the pieces you have – you still need those elements that make up a livable interior, such as a sofa, tables, rug and lights. What’s key here is reducing the scale so that pieces take up less space but bring just as much comfort and character.
Furniture: Look for low, narrow sofas and chairs with smaller arms. Raise your furniture on legs to visually open the space further – this technique works with sofas as well as kitchen benches. Consider two side tables instead of a coffee table, and opt for round instead of square, as this shape seems to take up less room.
Walls and ceiling: Use unobtrusive downlights, and try removing cornices to create a seamless transition between walls and ceiling. Think about other optical tricks – can you conceal your cabinets so they look like part of the wall; can you use mirrors to suggest more space? Don’t rule out wallpaper – subtle patterns will add detail and interest, but even a bold, striped diagonal can elongate the look of a wall.
Large or small, there’s a way to work your styling so you end up with a space that’s just right.
Greg will be joining The Conversation Series at Life Instyle Trade Event, Australia’s destination for homewares and trends, Hordern Pavilion, 19 - 22 February, 2015. Greg Natale’s book, The Tailored Interior, is available from all good bookstores or online at Bookworld.