When shaping a small space, it’s more important than ever to have a vision to drive a cohesion, otherwise it will feel chaotic, visually jarring and likely smaller.
First choose a colour palette. My staging training recommended 60% main colour, 30% second colour and 10% an accent colour. I’ve heard respected designers and colour experts focus on two colours in 80/20 or 70/30 ratios, with just minor pops of accents. The key is to simplify the palette used in the space. Repeating the colours and changing the balance in different rooms can tie the areas together while creating a variety of different feels.
I chose ivory as the main colour, in keeping with the flooring and light quartz counters. Big pops of energetic colour come from two tall orange bookcases in the living room, rugs and a console in the foyer, and bedding in the guest room. Fuschia is the accent colour which you see in flowers, notebooks, some cushions, bedding and pompoms my daughter made for me. The pillow fabric in the photo above was my inspiration, although you can probably tell from this site that these have long been favourite colours!
Metals add brightness and interest in a room throughout hardware, lighting, furniture, accessories and even carpeting. Use one dominantly and another as an accent, or mix several being careful not to let any tone dominate. If you choose one metal, play with texture in the finishes. I chose predominantly gold toned wood and metal to visually warm up the space, but also included some silver pieces, including a weave of shimmery thread in the living room carpet. This complements the room hardware which I wasn’t going to change.
Repetition of shapes, such as the rectangles and circles you see in the foyer above, and the curved lines you see in the living room settee and tables, is another way to bring cohesiveness to a space. Create vignettes for your eyes to rest on. Group smaller items in odd numbers as this is often more visually appealing.
A theme is another way to bring a space together. I drew on my Anglo-Indian heritage and chose to bring elements from both cultures into the space I call it “Tea Time” for in both cultures, it is always tea time! I got lucky that pieces from India were on trend while I was putting the condo together which made it easy to find bedding, carpeting, tables, art and accents.
It was also important to me that the condo express some of my personality and interests. On the foyer wall, I collected travel photos (mine and friends), and art (mine, loose term!), as well as posters and clippings that have meant a lot to me over the years. Some are black and white, but many are colourful. They work well together because all are framed in a unifying black.
I lay all the pieces on the floor to map out how I would hang them. Playing with composition on the ground really pays off. I got everything up on the wall in about an hour and a half. Work from the centre and move outwards. Measure twice, and don’t assume that art that comes in two pieces has the hanging brackets in the same place….whoops! Good thing nail holes are easy to patch. If you haven’t tried Monkey/Gorilla hooks, before, I highly recommend them. You can push them in drywall by hand and they leave minimal holes while supporting quite a load. Here is a link to an example.
In a rental space there are very often vertical blinds which function very well to control light entering the unit, yet don’t look particularly elegant. Consider adding drapery by hanging it onto the blind’s valance. Look for lightweight curtain panels with 4” tabs and simply slide them over the valance. Can you see the drapery which complements the carpet (it’s a smaller pattern in similar colours) in the image above? When the blinds are open, they tuck right behind the drapes and disappear. The blinds protect the drapery from fading in the sun which meant I could use a beautiful pure cotton fabric.
Coffee tables, settee, carpet, drapery and art on the far foyer wall all from Homesense. Orange rugs in foyer from Ikea, art above orange console from Homesense.
* Note – I was sponsored by Homesense, Ikea, Neatfreak and FoodSaver in completing the condo. All opinions are my own after testing and working with the products.