Tips and Tricks for Decorating Small Spaces – Farmhouse Style
The other week I wrote about our experience of moving to Washington DC and my Cozy Small Space Farmhouse Makeover. (You can read about that here.) I learned a lot while on this adventure of moving to DC and decorating our small apartment home. I’ll be writing a series about Tips and Tricks for Decorating Small Spaces – Farmhouse Style that I used in our apartment to create an updated farmhouse feel while making good use of the limited space! Try these first 5 ideas to add farmhouse style to your own small space.
5 Basics to Get Your Farmhouse Style Started in a Small Space
1. Start with a lighter palette on walls and floors.
Do a Pinterest or Google image search on “farmhouse style” or “farmhouse décor.” You’ll see lots and lots of white, cream and beige. Farmhouse Style is the lighter side of country after all, and white, or off-white, is its iconic color. But any neutral shade works when considering walls and floors. Lighter shades of grey, taupe, beige (greige), or cream are perfect colors for walls. Not only do lighter shades complement farmhouse style, but these neutral colors also make small spaces look larger! Darker colors absorb light and visually seem to draw closer to you, while lighter colors reflect light and cause walls to visually recede – creating the illusion that the room is larger than it is! That’s a big help in a small apartment! And it’s a great place to start when decorating your own small space.
Any wood or wood-look floor is perfect for farmhouse decorating. We were fortunate to find a place with laminate wood flooring. The ivory colored area rug we found for the living room keeps things light and bright, and its geometric design adds a hint of modern styling that feels right in this city setting. A natural jute braided rug also looks great in a farmhouse room and adds interesting texture. Of course carpeting or tile is perfectly fine too – especially if it’s a neutral color like the walls.
2. Use neutral colors and simple patterns on most fabrics and furniture.
Too many bold patterns and colors can quickly overwhelm a small space, so keep it simple by using neutral colors, and solids or open patterns on your largest furniture pieces. You can always add in color and extra pattern with throw pillows, curtains, and other fabric accents.
Another benefit to using light, neutral colors on most larger pieces is that it helps create an open feeling in a small room. Most of the large furniture pieces in this living room/dining room combo are beige or off-white. This contributes to the illusion that this room is larger than it is and keeps the space feeling open and airy. Choosing dark or bright colors on the sofa and other furniture would visually break up this space and could have quickly made this room feel crowded.
To be clear, neutral doesn’t mean that everything is white or the same exact shade! Neutral just means that it blends easily with other similar shades and colors. Soft shades of blue or green can be just as effective as shades of taupe or grey. Use subtle hue contrasts, different textures, and the occasional pop of color to keep things interesting and uniquely you!
I found a slip-covered sofa in a beige canvas fabric and paired it with a dark grey wing chair and an oatmeal-colored ottoman. The various shades blend together nicely but look more interesting than if they all matched perfectly. An assortment of farmhouse pillows in different shades of grey, beige, and taupe add additional texture, create a “collected” feel, and make it easy to add or change color with the seasons. I expect I’ll add a bit of yellow or green during the summer months, tone it down a bit with earthy browns in the fall, and then spice things up with a touch of red for Christmas!
3. Use a bit of color to grab attention
A touch of red stripe on a pillow, barn red checked curtains, a blue glazed crock, a bunch of yellow sunflowers, or a painted green table…when placed on a neutral background the eye is automatically drawn to anything with color. You can really use this to your advantage when decorating a small space!
For instance, a painted piece of furniture adds extra emphasis in one part of the room. We found a cute little drop-leaf table at a local antique/junk shop. This table for 2 was just what we needed for our almost-non-existent dining room space. We loved it’s spring green paint and it turned out to be just the perfect thing for our dining room area! It’s bright happy color immediately draws the eye when entering the room – helping to reinforce the idea that there is a “separate” dining area.
You can also use color to draw the eye upward with a colorful wall sign or print. Add a touch of color in pillows or a bouquet of flowers to celebrate the changing seasons in an understated way. Or draw attention to a pretty display with a touch of blue-green or your favorite color.
4. Choose lighting fixtures with lots of style impact
In a small space every item is important and should ideally add both style and function. Lighting is no exception, in fact it can be one of the most important items in a farmhouse room! Not only does having the right lighting illuminate the space properly, it also can go a long way towards setting the mood and style of the room.
I chose this funky Pemberton Farmhouse Chandelier not only for it’s room lighting possibilities, but also because it carried a lot of style for a small light! The galvanized shade is perfect for a farmhouse style look and the off-white painted base adds a hint of cottage chic styling that I find myself drawn to. Of all the items in the room, this is the piece that has had the most compliments – probably because it’s hard to miss (being right in the center of the room), but also because it has so much unique farmhouse styling. This was definitely a winner in the function-with-style department!
There are lots of lighting choices that work beautifully in a farmhouse-style home. You might prefer a classic wood turned chandelier or a metal pendant light. Whatever your preference, make sure your lighting does double duty as both a means to add light and style to your home!
5. Choose furniture and decor that offers extra storage space
Speaking of doing double duty…in any small space it’s vitally important that most home decor pieces are as functional as they are attractive. This large storage ottoman fills most of the space in front of the sofa. But not only is it large enough for two or three sofa users, there is also room for a tray on top to hold glasses and snacks. It has the added benefit of lots of space inside for extra blankets, throws, and even some extra table linens.
We were also fortunate to find a bed with four under-bed storage drawers that function as an out of the way spot for seasonal clothing and extra sheets. In the living room area the antique 12-drawer file cabinet not only added farmhouse-industrial styling, it also gave us 12 convenient drawers for organizing extra batteries, candles, tools, and all that general “junk” that seems to follow my husband wherever he goes! We found a metal cabinet to set it on and gained extra space underneath as well.
This set of 3 nesting tables works great for the space beside our sofa. The tallest one serves as a typical lamp table, while the two shorter ones are available to pull out for TV dinner nights.
And while most pieces we brought to our farmhouse style apartment are as functional as they are stylish, some things we just have because we love them! My husband’s vintage telescope for example, the antique Victrola record player that needs winding up to play each warble-y record, and the old, triangular shaped, wooden washtub base that’s currently serving as an interesting side table – these things are just for us, because we like them. They don’t have any real utilitarian use, but they still have purpose…they make us smile.
And that’s what this is all about after all – creating a space, no matter how small, that feels like home and reflects who you are. And at the end of a long day we all long to come home to a place that offers comfort and makes us smile.
These tips will get you started creating your own small farmhouse makeover. Look for more Tips and Tricks for Decorating Small Spaces – Farmhouse Style soon, and visit our Farmhouse Style Decor pages for inspiration!