Small-Space Design Tips from Stephen Saint-Onge

Designing any room can be challenging, but making over a small space might make you feel like you have limited options.

However, just because a room might be small doesn't mean you should scale down your ideas.

Here are a few tips from designer Stephen Saint-Onge to get you started on your small-space design.

Warm wall color and streamlined accessories bring soothing calm to this newly redone bedroom.
  • Clean Up and Clean Out To start your small-space redesign, get rid of what is not a necessity. This will help you get the room down to the basics. For example, if you notice a piece of furniture in a room that you don't feel works in the space, move it out or store it, especially if it is an heirloom or antique.
  • Create a Look Book Once the room is down to the basics, it's time to be creative. Create a "look book" full of inspiring ideas from rooms in magazines, catalogs, notes from TV shows, movies, etc. When it comes time to make decisions about your likes and dislikes, you will have creative direction at your fingertips. Look books are great solutions for couples wanting to combine styles and create a unified environment.
  • Rearrange Your Space Rework and rearrange what you currently have in the space. If you're designing a living room, veer from the traditional seating area and create different inviting spaces. For a bedroom, position your bed against another wall to change the flow of the space. Simply reorganizing what you already have will help you see the space from a fresh perspective, and you haven't even spent a dime!
  • Accentuate and Accessorize Don't feel compelled to buy all new stuff for a different look. Redesigning can be as simple as buying new end tables and slipcovers or splurging to buy your favorite sofa. Focus your budget on buying accessories such as throw pillows, interesting artwork, frames, books, or candles. I love placing candles in a room, but if you have small children or allergies, consider using the LED Candles. These candles give you the look and feel of candlelight without the associated risk of an open flame.

More Photos: Before and After Slide Show

Bruce hardwood flooring adds richness and opens the space.
  • Create a Theme If you don't know what your style is, determine a theme for the room. Themes help simplify your styling needs, such as a beach house theme, New York loft, or perhaps a country cottage.
  • Use Color The background of any room is color. Painting a room is the most dramatic and inexpensive way to change the look of the room large or small. Particularly in a small space, you shouldn't be afraid to work with color, even dark colors.
  • Add Height In small spaces, ceilings can help make a room look larger. A fun trick is adding trim five feet up on the wall around the room. Everything below the trim is painted white, and everything above and the ceiling is painted a darker shade or coordinated color. This color scheme helps create an infinite look to the ceiling, which creates the illusion of more height and space in the room.
  • Bring in Natural Light Another key element to a room is lighting. To bring in more natural lighting, consider removing bulky or dated window treatments. Changing out lighting fixtures can also help brighten up the room. Also, using dimmers allows you to control the levels of light in the room and create different moods.
  • Consider Hardwood Flooring If your room is carpeted, consider replacing the flooring with hardwoods. Wood floors are a great way to open the space, and wood allows light to bounce off the floor to give the effect of more openness in a space. If you're using hardwoods, area rugs are a great way to define seating areas or an area of interest in the room.
  • Streamline Bulky Products From a design perspective, technology can often take up a great deal of room, especially in a small space. Be smart about turning to products that are designed to make your life simpler, more efficient, and stylish. Consider using a flat-panel television -- it's space efficiency and minimalist look will complement your design scheme.

More Photos: Before and After Slide Show

More About Stephen Saint-Onge

Stephen Saint-Onge firmly believes that "good design has the power to change lives." Stephen's keen understanding of the homeowner and his friendly, approachable, and creative style has others hailing him as "the Home and Style Designer for the Everyday Family."

Visit his Web site at


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