Small Space, Big Style Last of a four-part series on making the most of little living spaces

It's done: With rugs, window treatments and lighting, a room becomes a home

aroberts@herald-leader.comJuly 26, 2013 

  • ABOUT THIS SERIES

    For four weeks in Life + Home, Anyssa Roberts, a summer reporting intern at the Herald-Leader, has taken readers through the process of decorating her room in her new home. Read the entire series at Kentucky.com/home.

As I reflect on this four-week interior design series, I have to take a step back, look at all of my work and grab a tall glass of water.

Anyone who has followed along and tried any of my do-it-yourself projects, tips and tricks deserves a drink as well.

Let us raise our glasses to a job well done as we gave our small spaces big style on a budget.

I have developed my color scheme, found homes for all of my things and clothes, and decorated my walls. In this final installment, I will tie it all together.

The finishing touches of a room are possibly the most important. Just as shoes can make or break an outfit, the final details can be the difference between a good room and a great room.

Based on advice from Duane Anderson, co-owner of House by JSD, I added an area rug, lighting and window treatments to tie everything together in my small space.

Area rugs

True, many homes — dorms, apartments, houses — come with carpeting installed, but it usually is a bland beige that just lies there or a color no one can seem to match with anything.

Using an area rug is a way to add color that fits your scheme, tie the room together and preserve the installed carpet underneath.

Area rugs come in endless materials, patterns, colors and textures.

When choosing a carpet, Anderson says, there are two distinct directions one may go.

"It can be very patterned and bright, or very neutral," he said.

His suggestion is to look at an ikat rug, meaning one with an intricate design, to add multiple colors and a strong graphic to the room.

A neutral rug can offer a subtle assistance to the color scheme and ambiance of the space to make it feel cozier.

Area rugs create a "connection" between the walls, uniting the space without drawing away from its size.

Places to look for rugs include HomeGoods and Carpet World, which has remnants for less than $100.

I chose to go with a neutral. My off-white area rug is 4 feet by 6 feet and was $44 at Target.

It adds dimension to my room and ties together my color scheme of black, white and turquoise.

Lighting

Lighting is important for small spaces and can serve different purposes. Sinead Kelly of Dulux Magazine says there are four basic types:

General lighting fills a space with overall illumination and includes overhead lights. This type is good for everyday tasks.

Accent or feature lighting, such as up lights, is directed at a specific area.

Task lighting is illumination for performing a job such as reading or cooking. This type of lighting usually sits over something, like a desk lamp.

Decorative lighting provides decoration and architectural interest, such as chandeliers or strobe lights.

I wanted lights that created a sophisticated and calm mood in my space and added visual appeal to the corners of my room.

Anderson suggested up lights to add a subtle amount of light to a room.

Chinese rice paper lights are becoming more popular and can be found in the home décor sections of discount stores including Wal-Mart and Target.

I bought two black rice paper floor lamps from Wal-Mart for $13.99 each to provide up-lighting. When turned on, the darkness of the paper shade and the yellow of the light relax the mood in my room; when they are shut off, they are sophisticated art pieces.

Curtains

Curtains and window treatments serve multiple purposes.

Being decorative, providing privacy, and controlling temperature and light controlling — some window treatments can do it all.

"Always do panels if you are hanging window treatments," Anderson said.

I did not realize how much curtain design had evolved.

After half an hour of deciding whether I wanted three-dimensional rose print wall panels or a plain look, I chose a light-blocking window panel in a popping, turquoise chevron print from Target ($29.99) to add character.

"Hang them higher than the actual window," Anderson said. "It visually enhances the room and makes it look bigger."

Hanging treatments higher was a useful trick to make my small space look much bigger.

My panel was a standard 84 inches long, and I hung it 8 inches above my window frame to create the illusion of high ceilings and a longer window.


ABOUT THIS SERIES

For four weeks in Life + Home, Anyssa Roberts, a summer reporting intern at the Herald-Leader, has taken readers through the process of decorating her room in her new home. Read the entire series at Kentucky.com/home.

Anyssa Roberts: (859) 231-1409. Twitter: @heraldleader.

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