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Decorating small spaces

Kathleen Rellihan is a writer and editor living in Washington, D.C. She has contributed to a variety of lifestyle magazines and websites nationwide, covering everything from Salsa dancing to doggie daycare.

Maximize it!

A cramped corner doesn't have to equal cramped style. Whether you are trying to fit your entire life into a 500-square foot apartment or you just want to feel the walls expand in your living room, there are simple decorating secrets that will maximize and any small space.

Maximize it!

Proportion Distortion

A small room needs small furniture, right? Not necessarily. Many tiny pieces of furniture will actually clutter a smaller space. Instead opt for several key pieces of furniture that will make the space feel grounded. Of course, that doesn't mean you can pull off an overstuffed sofa. A better option might be an armless couch or chaise.

Multipurpose Furniture

If you can fit only several pieces of furniture, they should have more than one use. Storage ottomans are great for concealing clutter, additional seating, and a foot rest. Put the TV on top of a chest of drawers instead of a separate media unit. Make an end table double as a desk. Use a trunk for storage and a coffee table.

Mirror Magic

Mirrors not only reflect light but they fool the eye into thinking there is more space. They add depth and open a window for your eyes to look through. They work in entry ways, hallways, or any place you like to erase wall space.

Lighten Up

A compact space looks larger with light — natural or artificial. Don't block window light with furniture and replace heavy draperies with sheer curtains and blinds. And always have plenty of lamps to illuminate dark corners.

Hang Everything

A flat screen TV is perhaps the best investment for small quarters. Floating shelves can hold your photos, knickknacks, and books to free up floor space. In the kitchen, hang up your pots and spices to free up cabinet and counter space.

Clutter Control

Perhaps the biggest mistake in small quarters is the easiest to fix. Taking control of your clutter frees up space and makes any environment more relaxing. Decorative storage boxes and bins are perfect for concealing miscellaneous items that have no home. Also, take inventory regularly of your closets and cabinets and get rid of what you don't need.

Focal Points

Don't always want the focus to be on how tiny your place is? Refocus the attention on a large piece of artwork or a collection of photos hung together. Deemphasize the smallness of your space with showing off your personal style. There is always room to decorate!

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