Rules Were Meant to Be Broken: 3 Little Spaces That Don’t Give a Damn


Most of the conventional wisdom about small spaces advises restraint. Paint it white. Pick furniture with clean, minimal lines. Don’t choose a color palette that’s too wild. But what if you threw all that advice out the window? What if you saw your tiny apartment less like a problem to be dealt with and more like a tiny laboratory for your most outrageous decorating ideas? It might look something like this.

These three homeowners have, in very different ways, broken the “rules” for small spaces, and created homes that feel like experiences in and of themselves — tiny departures from the expected, little retreats into a world all one’s own.

The conventional wisdom for small spaces is to paint the walls light colors, but black walls are an unexpectedly perfect choice for this UK home from Desire to Inspire—also featured at the top of this post—which is on the small side at 840 square feet. The consistently dark palette helps to pull things together, and against the dark walls, plants and a few bright accessories seem to almost glow.

Wild, complicated patterns are another unusual choice for small space, but that hasn’t stopped artist George Venson, whose 275-square-foot New York studio was featured on New York Mag. His own prints are featured on almost every surface in the space, giving the apartment a wild, almost otherworldly feel.

I am more than a little obsessed with this studio apartment by designer Tom Delavan, which I have written about on the site before. Here, once again, dark colors are an unexpected and perfect choice for a small space — the soothing gray scheme brings everything neatly together. The designer doesn’t shy away from oversized pieces, either. Although you might think that a small space should mean small stuff, there can be benefits to going in the opposite direction. A few larger pieces (like the chairs here) can really help a room feel bigger, as opposed to a larger cluster of smaller things. And the oversized lamp emphasizes the space’s best feature — its height.

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