If there’s one thing most Hongkongers have in common it’s their affinity with small spaces. Hong Kong is notorious for its exorbitantly priced real estate market and its tiny living spaces. The shortage in space often causes most people to focus on practical design sensibilities rather than aesthetic, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are a few tricks you can try to make your space look bigger without having to sacrifice beautiful design.
1. Have a cohesive color scheme
Small spaces generally benefit from lighter colors like white, cream, ivory, or beige because they reflect light and make a space feel light and airy. Dark colors on the other hand, like red, black, and blue tend to absorb light and make a space look smaller. Instead of vivid colored walls, opt for contrasts in color and accents using furniture pieces like sofas, coffee tables, side tables, armchairs, and even floor lamps.
2. Opt for a few well-chosen large-scale pieces
Instead of filling your small space up with small pieces, a handful of tastefully chosen furniture items is more than enough to make a design statement. Start with the basics like a sofa or armchair, a coffee table, and a rug. If you’ve got a bit more space, you can also add a side table and floor lamp as well.
3. Skip the overhead lighting
Overhead lighting such as chandeliers, hanging lamps, pendant lights, or drop lamps can generally take up a lot of space and make your space look cramped. Go for floor lamps and table lamps to add height and layers to your space. Lighting placement is also very important – you can use floor lamps in the corners of your space to brighten them up and spread out the table lamps as this helps draw the eye around the room, creating the illusion of a bigger space.
4. Utilize transparent or glass pieces and accents
Reflective furniture items like mirrors and glass tables always make a space seem bigger than it actually is. Mount wall mirrors on your walls, opt for glass coffee tables or consoles, or place glass table lamps on high surfaces to help create an illusion of a bigger space.
5. Look for multipurpose items
Everyone likes a 2-in1 feature, right? Especially when it comes to saving space! Choose furniture pieces that have dual purposes or allow you to save more space. For example, a TV mount like the Vilhelm Industrial Solid Wood TV Cabinet that allows you to store books, remotes, or cables is always a bonus. Or even a coffee table with an extra shelf for you to keep your knickknacks in like the Josette Industrial Coffee Table is always handy!
6. Go for slender silhouettes and open bases
Furniture items with slender silhouettes and open bases are a great choice for your small living space as they can help minimize visual clutter. Try avoiding bulky floor lamps and robust coffee tables and instead choose pieces like the Freya Floor Lamp or the Faye Arched Floor Lamp. For coffee tables, you can go with items like the Johan Glossy Top Coffee Table or the Julia Minimal Coffee Table. Another example of this is choosing a sofa with exposed legs. Skip the ones with a skirt which tend to look more stuffy and can make your space look smaller.
7. Use rugs to section off areas
A good rug is key to an aesthetic home as it helps set the tone, design atmosphere, and can also indicate a specific space. However there are some rules when it comes to decorating with rugs. The most important of them all is getting the size right. You don’t want to get a rug that’s too big as it might dwarf your space. You don’t want to get a rug that’s too small as it will ruin the design aesthetic. A good rule of them when choosing a rug for your living room is to measure approximately 6-8 inches (15-20cm) on either side of your sofa.
8. Leave a little breathing room
One common mistake people make when decorating is pushing their furniture against the walls. While the idea behind it is to make more space, this can actually make it seem like your space is tighter than it is. Try leaving some negative space or distance between your furniture and the walls.
9. Try layered coffee tables
Instead of one large coffee table in the center of your living room, why not go for two smaller coffee tables in different sizes? They can be two completely different designs like the photo above or two of the same kind but in two different sizes like this Juno Glass Coffee Table.
10. Display artwork strategically
Having artwork on your walls is a great way to design and add some color and personality to your space. You can choose to have a gallery wall of artwork or one large piece, depending on your taste. The important part is to display the artwork high on the wall to keep the illusion of space. This will also draw the eye higher and upward as well.
11. Let light in
© Mitchell Geng for Vogue HK via Foerni Furniture Rental Instagram
No one likes a dark living space! If you live in a dark and somber environment, this can also affect your mood and overall well-being. While you don’t necessarily have to keep your windows open all the time, you can opt for light colored or semi-sheer curtains, blinds, shades, or drapes. If you don’t have access to natural lighting, getting a floor or table lamp to brighten up your space is an absolute must!
12. Don’t forget to keep organized
Even if you have the prettiest furniture and an Instagram-like living space, it will amount to nothing if you’re surrounded by clutter. Keeping organized and having a system of what goes where is essential when you’re living in small quarters. As the popular Japanese Netflix star Marie Kondo says, “Life truly begins after you put your house in order.”