Sabrina Soto
decorating for a small space

Small space,
big style

Living in a small space can be frustrating; you have to be selective with furniture and color choices, avoid clutter more than most and decorate in a way that enhances rather than overwhelms your home. But square footage doesn't have to dictate style. There are some simple ways to open things up and create a look that stands out.

We have Sabrina Soto, decor expert, HGTV host and author of Sabrina Soto Home Design here to share her top design tips with SheKnows. This week, she's showing us how to make the most of a small space.

Small living room

Small space challenges

Designing a small space can sometimes be overwhelming and knowing where to start can feel like a challenge. You don't have the luxury of numerous rooms or floor space to spread out however you choose. You have to be much more strategic in how you designate the space you have, notes Soto. "Designating a specific area to a certain function can result in the space looking like a jumbled mess," she says. What does this mean for you? Avoid trying to force a small room or area into becoming something it's not. Instead, work with what you have, she advises.

Small space mistakes

Paint selections are very important when it comes to decorating a small space, and there are some colors to steer clear of. "Darker hues tend to create a 'cave' effect," says Soto. "The darker the colors, the smaller the space will appear to be." This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but be strategic about what color goes where. "You want to figure out what mood you're going for, before picking the color," adds Soto. "If you want a light and airy feel, choose brighter, lighter colors. They open up a space and make it look fresher," she explains.

When it comes to choosing furniture, be aware of dimensions and don't buy something that will just work against your space. "Make sure to buy furniture that won't overwhelm the already limited space," advises Soto. "Keep it balanced and to scale."

Color tip: Pair buff colored walls with accents of bright pinks and canary yellows for a fun and flirty feel. For a touch of sophistication, use whites paired with navy blues and soft teal patterns.

Small space decor secrets

The first trick to enhancing a small space is to keep it neat. "Try avoiding clutter and make the best of your floor space," says Soto. "Closet space may be limited, but vertical closet organizers can help you keep those floors mess-free." Ensuring floors are free of toys, books and piles of clothes will go a long way in opening up your space.

In the bathroom, go bold. "A bright shower curtain or bath mat will certainly liven up your bath area," notes Soto.

Next, group your furniture, don't scatter it, Soto suggests. "Designate an area for your living room space and stick with it. Screens and floating room dividers or bookshelves can also be used for room separation." We love the idea of sectioning off part of a room to easily turn it into an office, craft corner or kids play area.

Mirrors are also a great way to give the illusion of more square footage. They reflect light and space, creating visual depth, Soto explains.

As darker colors tend to enclose a space, choosing lighter colors is usually best for smaller spaces. For a quick update, Soto suggests choosing light neutrals accented with pops of color and pattern to make your space appear larger.

Small space trends

If you want to stay on trend and still make great use of your space, Soto suggests choosing larger patterns that are fun and add character to the space. Glass and acrylic materials are also great choices. "They appear light and weightless," she explains.

Multifunctional pieces are very popular in small spaces, notes Soto. "Storage ottomans are great for seating while storing your personal items. People love pull-down beds and futons as they're great space savers during the day or for when you have company over," she adds. "Vertical bookcases are not only fashionable but can hold large quantities of books."

Tell us

How do you maximize a small space? Share in the comments below!

Watch: How to maximize space in your kitchen

Kitchen space always seems to be at a premium. Watch this video for ideas on how you can maximize the space in your kitchen.

More decor tips and trends

Home decor finds: Decorating with stripes
8 Stylish ways to organize your stuff
Prep your home for fall with Sabrina Soto

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Comments on "Sabrina Soto shares her small space decorating secrets"

Kendra September 16, 2012 | 2:22 PM

I love this guide! My husband is a painter so he usually does a good job with picking out paint colors. And it's SO TRUE that dark colors make the space look a lot smaller. We have a small family room, so we have cream colored walls, a dark blue accent wall, and we've chosen smaller furniture to fit the room without overcrowding it.

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