8 Decorating Mistakes To Avoid In A Studio Apartment Real Simple

June 10, 2018 5:14 am by admin
Treating it as one room
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8 Decorating Mistakes To Avoid In A Studio Apartment Real Simple

Few things in home decor look as sad as a bunch of dining chairs clinging to the edges of an area rug like castaways on a raft. Ditto for rugs in the living room that barely support the coffee table and nothing more. A larger rug will not only make your home look more sophisticated, but the room itself will look larger, as the scale of a larger floorcovering tricks the eye into creating square footage. Check out our handy rug size guide below to avoid this common mistake.

While we’re talking about color choices, let’s get down to specifics and tackle this common misconception: I hate to break it to you, but painting a small, dark room white won’t help it look any larger. White works best in spaces which get a lot of natural light, and it can’t magically create space where there is none.

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I’m a staunch advocate for using color, but I’m not saying that anything goes. Not having a color plan in place can be a recipe for a decorating disaster, as over time things can seem disjointed. You want your home to feel cohesive, so deciding on a loose, flexible palette (see “Being too one-note” below) and sticking to it is a great way of achieving that.

Correctly placed curtains can transform a small room. “When hanging drapery, mount the rods as far up on the wall as they will go: the closer to the ceiling, the better,” says interior designer James Wheeler. “This draws the eye upwards, making the windows appear larger. I love using track-like hardware that can be mounted directly to the ceiling.” You’ll want to choose curtains that reach all the way to the floor. 

Re-edited from a post that originally appeared 01.07.2017. – AH

You can be adventurous in a small space, too. In fact, experimenting with different colors and patterns might enhance the room. “Consider wallpapering with a dramatic patterned paper to create interest and depth in the design. Your apartment will feel much larger,” says interior designer Young Huh.

It’s difficult to envision how your new furniture will fill your space, and having a solid furniture plan in place can help avoid mistakes in scale and flow. By drawing out your room in scale, you can see what works and what might not be quite right in terms of usage, size and what might block circulation paths. A larger sofa or sectional in the living room above from Suzy Hoodless could have easily blocked the doorway at right if not planned for properly. Same goes for choosing a side chair for the narrow space rather than a larger love seat which would have restricted the room’s flow.

Not sure why your room doesn’t look quite right? You may have committed one of these 10 decorating offenses. If you’re pairing your standard seven-foot sofa with a teeny three-by-five-foot rug, the small rug could be throwing off the balance in your living room. Or, if you’re lining furniture along the walls in an attempt to maximize space, it could be making the room look more cramped than it is. So what to do if you find out you’ve been inadvertently breaking every last design rule? Not to worry: We asked top design pros to bail you out with easy-to-follow fixes. If you learn you’ve been using too-bright lighting, the solution is as simple as screwing in a new light bulb. Realize you’ve been hanging your curtains too low? A five-minute hardware adjustment could make your ceiling appear a few feet taller. With trustworthy pros guiding the design intervention, getting your home back on track is easier than you might think.

A rug that’s on the puny side makes a room look fragmented and feel choppy.The Fix: Go beyond the edges of your biggest piece of furniture. If you have a standard seven-foot sofa, choose a rug that’s at least nine feet, which will extend about a foot past each side of the couch, says New York City designer Elaine Griffin. (Stuck with a small rug? Layer it on top of an 8-by-10-foot or 9-by-12-foot solid jute or sisal rug.) For a bedroom, choose one that’s at least 1½ feet wider than the bed (an 8-by-10-foot or 9-by-12-foot rug for a king- or queen-size bed and a 6-by-9-foot rug for a full-size bed). In a dining room, pick a rug that extends at least three feet beyond the table on all sides, says Los Angeles designer Timothy Corrigan. “No one likes pushing back from the table and having the chair legs fall off the rug.”

→ Everything You Need to Know: How To Get the Perfect Rug Size for Your Room

Now that small space living has become more popular, a wide variety of furniture pieces are available to do double duty—offering extra storage or folding to become more compact. “Murphy beds are always good, plus ottomans which open for storage. Sofabeds are great, too—I slept on one from Avery Boardman for years!” says interior designer Brett Beldock. “IKEA has terrific storage units and movable closets which can divide a room.”

“The biggest mistake I see in studio apartments or small spaces is homeowners using the incorrect scale of furniture in their space,” says interior designer Abbe Fenimore. “Using too small or too large furniture can wreak havoc on a room, ultimately making it appear smaller than it actually is.” On the same note, avoid crowding the space with too much furniture.

A considered, cohesive scheme is one thing, but a place which feels too designed, in color or style, can easily become boring. The best spaces have a bit of tension to them—a quirky piece of furniture, an unexpected light fixture, a surprising piece of art hung off-center. The hue of the green velvet chair in the bedroom above from The Debrief breaks up the yellow-and-burgundy color palette nicely without standing out too harshly.

I’m talking about art hung too high, curtains hung too low or too narrow, and light fixtures hung at awkward heights over tables. All of these pitfalls have the potential to sabotage the finish of your home, making spaces feel smaller, darker and more uncomfortable. Luckily, these problems are easily fixed.

A common misconception is that painting any room white will make it feel bigger and more beautiful. “Sometimes that works,” says Los Angeles designer Emily Henderson, “but if the room has very little natural light, white walls can look flat and boring.”The Fix: Tryamedium-toneneutraltoadd depth. “Two of my favorites are Portland Gray by Benjamin Moore and Aloof Gray by Sherwin-Williams,” she says. “They have soft bluish undertones that change the wall color slightly throughout the day, bringing more life to a space than plain white paint would.”

Craning your neck to see a piece of art: awkward. “You want your eyes to move around a room in a fluid way, which only happens if you’re eye to eye with the art,” says New York City designer Suysel dePedro Cunningham.The Fix: Try Cunningham’s hanging trick: “Visually divide the room into four sections horizontally and hang your art in the one that’s second from the top. To make sure you get the layout right, trace the frames onto paper, cut those pieces out, and tape them to the walls before you hang the art.”

→ The Dos and Don’ts of Hanging Curtains: An Illustrated Guide

Your studio apartment will feel more pulled together if the walls are painted one unified color. “I tend to paint small spaces all one color, so it doesn’t break up the flow,” says Fenimore. “Not to say that accent walls can’t be achieved, but these are better served in larger spaces, behind beds, or in an entry. As a studio is all one room, it’s best to keep everything really clean and basic. This makes it easier to layer in color and texture into each individual area.” If you want to add something eye-catching to a wall, why not try art? “Instead of accent walls, I prefer gallery walls with a mix of framed artwork or prints to add personality and interest,” says interior designer Wendy Labrum.

When you have limited space, every design decision counts. Experts share how to make the most of your one-room abode. Bonus: These helpful tips translate to any small space.

Since we spend so much of our time discussing design on Apartment Therapy, I’m willing to bet that most of us have pretty good-looking homes. But style is all in the details, and sometimes it’s easy to overlook things that are right in front of you, day after day. Read on for the small things that might be letting your home down, and the easy tweaks you can make to change them.

When you have a tight space, your instinct might be to push every piece against the walls. (It opens up room in the middle, right?) A stick-to-the-perimeter plan actually makes a small space feel even smaller, says Tracy Morris, a designer in Washington, D.C. “Breathing room near the walls makes a space feel more expansive,” she explains.The Fix: “Float” a few pieces instead, says Morris. In a living room, set up a conversation area with slipper chairs on a small rug a foot from the wall. “It gives the illusion of a room that’s airier and less crammed,” she says.

→ How to Pick a Color Palette That Will Pull Your Home Together

When you choose artwork that’s too small, it looks like it’s awkwardly floating on the wall instead of anchoring the space, which is distracting.The Fix: There’s an easy rule of thumb for hanging art above a sofa or bed. “It should fill at least two-thirds of the wall space above that piece of furniture to look and feel balanced. If you go smaller than that, even if you can’t articulate why, your eye understands something is amiss,” says Griffin. But that doesn’t always mean you need giant framed prints. “You can ‘cheat’ by hanging multiples either salon-style or in a grid to get that wall coverage,” says Griffin. If the pieces are uniform in size, leave an equal amount of space between them; if they vary in size, you can mix it up.

Thick drapery can be beautiful, but if it’s keeping outside light from streaming in, your room will be a lot less inviting.The Fix: Hang sheers made of neutral-colored linen, suggests Los Angeles-based designer Shannon Wollack. “They bring texture and warmth, and they’re also gauzy enough to let light filter through,” she says. “To maximize natural light when you have only small windows in a room, avoid placing any pieces of furniture in front of those windows if they are taller than the sill.”

“Don’t just put your bed right out in the room,” says interior designer Kyle Schuneman. “You can create visual separation by creating a bed nook with cabinets, wallpaper, and a sconce so it feels like a room within a room.” Another quick and classic trick is to use a bookcase or folding screen as a room divider.​

Your first instinct in a studio apartment might be to treat it as one open room instead of dividing the space into even smaller spots. But creating zones will help maximize your space (and sanity). Using room dividers or rugs to delineate spaces means you won’t have to eat on your bed anymore. “Think about how you use space and lay out furniture accordingly, making sure to define zones for entertaining, sleeping, and working from home,” says interior designer Heather Hilliard. “Tuck one or two ottomans under a console table to pull out into the space when you need extra seating for guests. Try to include pieces of furniture that can have more than one function, like a desk that can be used as a dining table. With the right layout, you can pack a lot of utility into a small space.”

Hanging curtains just above a window’s trim, or halfway between the trim and the ceiling, used to be the norm. But the pros say that’s a missed opportunity.The Fix: Hang curtains as close as you can to the ceiling line. “It makes even teensy windows look gargantuan,” says Griffin. Width-wise, extend the curtains five inches to a foot past the outer edge of the window trim. “That way you can see most of your window when the curtains are open,” she explains. If you’re picking out new ones, choose curtains that are about twice the width of the windows. “That fullness helps them drape well and look expertly styled,” says Griffin.

Too many accessories could make your small apartment look like an episode of Hoarders, but with too few, it may look sparse. With the accent pieces you do choose, aim for those that will create the illusion of more space. “Incorporating taller, oversized pieces of art in a small room elongates walls, and opens up the room,” says Wheeler. Mirrors will trick the eye, too. “Use mirrors to create the illusion of space and to bounce light – it’s the oldest trick in the book,” says interior designer Jason Grant. “Position them opposite your window to double your view.”

It’s tempting to arrange a sofa facing a window or fire- place, but if that means you’re seeing the back of the couch when you walk into the room, it’s generally a bad move. “Being greeted by the back of your sofa—and the backs of anyone sitting on it—feels unwelcoming,” says Andrew Howard, a designer in Jacksonville, Florida.The Fix: “Whenever you’ve got a large wall, use it to ground your sofa,” says Howard. It’s less jarring to look at the backs of accent chairs because they aren’t as bulky. No way around exposing the sofa’s back? You can soften the look with a console table in front, styled with low stacks of books or decorative objects.

If you have a smaller space that you wish to appear larger, you’d be better off using a mid-tone or even a deep shade (how luscious are the peacock walls in the above powder room from Design Sponge?)—think about it, you want those walls to recede away from you, giving the impression of space. The same goes for creating light—white just looks dirty in a dim room, so you’re better off going with a cozy color.

Brighter isn’t always better, says Morris. “High-watt bulbs tend to ‘blow out’ a space, so it ends up feeling cold and stark instead of warm and cozy.”The Fix: Go with 60- to 75-watt-equivalent bulbs in common areas to give off task-level lighting that isn’t too intense. In personal spaces (bedrooms, bathrooms), a 40- to 60-watt-equivalent bulb is your best bet—it provides a softer, more atmospheric light that’s still bright enough for reading, says Morris. Another common misstep: sticking with a single overhead light. For functionality, that might provide the right amount of light, but aesthetically it falls short. “An overhead can be glaring and feel overbearing in a room,” says Mat Sanders of Consort Design in New York City. “To balance it and make the space more inviting, you need a mix of table, floor, or wall lights.” Some good guidelines: In a living room with a standard-size sofa (about six to eight feet long), use at least two table lamps, suggests Los Angeles designer Melissa Warner Rothblum. If there’s more than one seating area in the room, anchor each with a floor lamp beside a bench or a pair of chairs. In a dining room, opt for a pair of table lamps on a sideboard or floor lamps flanking a console.

It’s easy to feel like you need a whole bunch of throw pillows to make your couch feel cushy. But a big mix usually just ends up looking messy, says Los Angeles–based designer Vanessa De Vargas.The Fix: Stick with a more streamlined setup. “Two pillows on each end are really all you need for a sofa that looks chic but not stuffy,” says De Vargas. “I prefer one big pillow and one small one on both ends, but you could also use pillows that are all the same size.”

I understand wanting a neutral base to decorate against: It’s versatile, can be easily updated, it’s reassuring. But sometimes, it’s also boring. Spaces which make you take note are rarely decorated in a sea of beige or gray. I bet the first thing you noticed about the image above from House & Garden was the vibrant red wall, right? A deep wall color, brightly-hued drapes or even a statement sofa will all up the style quotient of your home—you don’t have to do them all, but I’d urge you to consider incorporating at least one.

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8 decorating mistakes to avoid in a studio apartment real simple
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