No Room at the Inn

Adele Shotton-Pugh | Posted

If your house isn’t the biggest, but you’ve got quite a lot of family visiting throughout the Christmas period, then here’s some tips on how to make the most of what little space you have.

Put Function First

Collage of folding sofa beds in beige and black

It's a proven fact that People actually socialize better in smaller more intimate spaces, but you don’t want the intimacy to be uncomfortably enforced by falling over each other in a space that is too cramped and confined, so you need to put function first in a small home. Create your living space based on your personal habits, but for occasions like Christmas or other parties, consider what you will be doing most with your guests – eating or sitting chatting.

If people are sleeping over invest in or borrow temporary beds such as folding camp beds, guest beds, air beds or sofa beds.


De-clutter and Get Items off the Floor

Get as many items as possible off the floor. For example, the CD collection that’s gradually grown into a sky scraper at the side of the TV may be something you live with every day, but it doesn’t need to be there. Clear out all the clutter. There's nothing that makes a small space feel cramped more than having too much stuff. Work out ways to get your clutter out of view, organized behind doors, under table skirts, in boxes, or on shelves. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space that is in view will feel orderly and open.

A lot of interior images in a collage, showing storage options

 

Try and think creatively in your small space and make it a family game trying to find clever places to store things. Be clever and repurpose where you can too to create space and style at the same time. If you can see the floor, the room will look larger. A really good tip is to hang your flat screen TV on a flexible arm, or on the wall where possible, as this eliminates the need for a TV stand or entertainment unit and frees up more floor space.


Balance the Room and Open the Way

Make sure you leave adequate seating (dining or lounging) for the number of guests you are having, then eliminate any excess pieces of furniture as well. People with small homes often try to create the space they want in a room by moving things to the outer edges, to create more floor space, but this just kills the warmth and the intimacy.

Similarly, furniture and accessories blocking the view into a room and out to open spaces, will make a room look cramped. By moving furniture out and away from walkways, you'll open up the space and make it feel larger. To enliven the space, try a triangle or square arrangement with a central coffee table, with your furniture. Both arrangements are sociable and will leave floor space showing around the edges as well as walkway access, giving the illusion of space. And the great thing about this change is that it doesn’t cost anything! In addition, a tiny room doesn’t have to hold only tiny furniture.

Often in a small space people avoid large furniture thinking it will dominate the room, but this isn’t true. You can make a compact room feel much bigger with a few large, well chosen, bold, pieces rather than several smaller ones, if you keep the main furnishings in proportion to each other. You can incorporate smaller pieces to increase available seating for your extra guests and you don’t have to buy new furniture to transform or balance a room.

Bring other pieces in from other areas of the house that can serve a suitable purpose, like an ottoman, an armless, open chair, or a low table. If it doesn’t match, paint it, change the handles to change the look or drape a throw over it to co-ordinate the look until you take it out again.Large scatter cushions are good for extra floor seating.

 

Rustic French dining table in matching kitchen 

A lot of the time when you have a house full of guests it’s the kids that end up on the floor so why not make them comfortable with some big cushions to lounge on. They’re inexpensive, a good way of adding colour to your Christmas scheme and can be neatly arranged on your furniture when not in use. 

Emergency Seating and Make-do Tables – beg/borrow or  improvise and drag an old table in from the garage or the garden. Don’t worry about it looking too shabby or scruffy as a gorgeous piece of fabric and a few accessories can make even the sorriest of articles look deliberately glamorous – and you can always pretend that the look is deliberate as you were going for the rough-luxe look. The only consideration that you need to make is that it’s safe and sturdy enough if you don’t fancy eating your Christmas dinner off the floor!!???

 


Go From Dark to Light

You can make any room seem larger with new colours. A cramped living room will feel much more spacious if you choose soft, light hues to lighten the walls with. Dark, warm colours will make a space feel cosy and intimate, but light, cool colours make a space feel open and airy. For optimum effect, select soft tones and use a monochromatic colour scheme. That is, choose shades of colours that are in the same family for a tone-on-tone look. Cool colours and delicate warm colours on most surfaces will give the room a more open look.

Collage of white and black venetian blinds

And if you're colour cautious then you can't go far wrong with  a classic black and white combo. These simple sophisticated schemes are easy to coordinate with accent colours and suit any style, genre or period. These two images show perfect examples of how a different balance of dark and light can dramatically change the look and proportions of the room, but both to good effect.

 

If you need more advice on colour scheming take a look at the Colour Wheel and Living with Colour section of our on-line Interior Design Guide.


Coordinate Wall and Furniture Colours

Avoid bold patterns on your furniture. Contrasting colours tend to break up a space. Pieces of furniture are less interrupting and tend to blend with the space if they're colour matched to your wall colour. A quick fix for heavily patterned or miss-matched furniture is to cover it with plain coloured or patterned luxury throws. They’re affordable, easily removed again and versatile as they can be used in many other areas of your home.
Throws magazine
 

Create an Illusion

Striped walls in bedroom and on staircase wall

 

Wallpaper isn’t just on-trend, it’s practical as well. In small or narrow rooms wallpaper can create the illusion of space too. Just remember though, a small space is no place for high-contrast colour or bold patterns, so go for tone-on-tone muted papers and preferably stripes. Horizontal stripes to give width and vertical ones to add height. You don’t necessarily need to paper the entire room, just a single feature wall or prominent chimney breast will achieve the desired effect at minimum cost.


Create Reflections

Making a small space seem grand, depends on maximizing light. Use mirrors and glass to create reflections and bounce light around
Collage of different mirrors

 

Mirrors are a tried-and-tested way to open up space. They always help a small room look bigger, sometimes almost twice the size. They add a new dimension to a room and maximize the amount of light reflected by both day and night.You can further maximize the light reflected in a room by adding a glass coffee table or console table, rather than a solid wood or opaque one. You can do it by tucking mirrors into corners, and by hanging pictures with glass frames, which create even more interesting reflections. Glass chandeliers not only look great but reflect interesting light spectrums in both natural and artificial light.And nothing looks better reflected through a mirror than candlelight!


Think Vertically

Use valuable wall space to best effect as well. If you don’t want to paper or repaint you can use a large piece of wall art or a canvas in much lighter tones than your wall colour to give expanse to a dark wall, so don’t let the vertical space go to waste. Whether you’re hanging art or shelves, the trick is to draw the eye up making a space feel more expansive and giving the illusion of height. Any room with a low ceiling will seem loftier if you hang pictures up high.

Let the Light In

Any room will look larger if it's well-lit, either by natural or artificial lighting. Swap heavy weight or dark coloured draperies for lighter shades and weights of fabric. Opting for ready-mades will help you to achieve this within a reasonable budget. Don’t worry about losing warmth and insulation for the winter months, opt for thermal linings or thick curtains for added insulation.Open up your windows to let as much natural light in as possible, by ensuring that curtain rods extend well beyond the window frame to give a generous stack-back area for the curtains to hang in, thus avoiding any of the window being obscured. Consider hanging curtains from the ceiling or directly underneath the coving line, rather than from the top of the window where possible, as this will add height and drama to the room.
Lamp magazine

For the evenings add more lamps or additional festive lights. (Just make sure they’re white!) Candles are an obvious accessory for the Christmas period, but that lovely, ambient, flickering, glow doesn’t have to be reserved just for the Christmas period, you can use it all year round. You can create a look that is either authentically traditional or stunningly modern with natural candlelight. Candles are available in a plethora of shapes, colours and sizes to complement any room style or colour scheme. Votifs, glass vases, tea-light holders, lanterns and hurricane lamps are all suitable additions for a Christmas interior. A portable light source, that can be refilled and used over and again year round, they eliminate the need for trailing cables or flexes, keeping your clutter free look consistent.

For more inspiration then why not browse through our Christmas Shop.

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