7 (Simple) Ways to Decorate your Small Space for the Holidays

Successful interior designer gives insight on how to utilize holiday decorations to maximize space.

Holiday decorating is a perfect way to get into the spirit, but unfortunately, it’s also a little stressful especially when you don’t have space to work with. According to the U.S. Census, the number of people renting has grown more than a quarter over the past 10 years, meaning a lot of Americans living in smaller apartment and condos versus single family homes. Don’t let your small space turn you into a Grinch this season by following these tips to learn how to use it to your advantage.

ESTATENVY chatted with Rebecca West, owner of Seriously Happy Homes, a successful interior design company based in Seattle, Washington to get some professional advice. West has been in the industry for 11 years and gave us great insight on how to make the most of your small space when decorating for the holidays guaranteed to impress any family or friends.

Light up the room

When you live in a condo or apartment you don’t always have the capability to hang lights outside of your home. Frankly, it is a blessing in disguise because bringing out the ladder and scaling the roof can be a lot more hassle than it's worth. West recommends bringing the lights indoor to set the holiday mood.

“String lights are a wonderful way to add a bunch of ambiance, especially with the main lights turned down for a holiday party,” said West. “Drape them over your curtain rods, bundle them on your mantle with a little bit of greenery, or tuck them under your sofa to create some great lighting effects.”

Mirror the look

Mirrors have the ability to really open up the room by naturally drawing the eye up and making any space feel lighter and brighter. It can also create the illusion of a window which is helpful to make space feel less cluttered with decorations.

“Play with mirrors, especially to make your holiday decor go further. If there is a piece of art that hangs on the wall behind where you are going to place your tree, hang a mirror there during the holidays instead,” said West. “Not only will it feel better not to "block" that piece of art, but you'll also get more bang for your buck out of your tree by getting to see the ornaments hanging on the far side!”

Stop and smell the candles

Around the holiday season, there’s nothing more delightful than walking into a room that smells like freshly baked goods or a crisp pine forest. By tapping into your other senses, even the smallest amount of decorations can seem more thoughtful and cheerful.

“Use your sense of smell to set a holiday mood - even if you are limited in space you can have the scent of the holidays in the air from a pine, cinnamon, or vanilla-scented candle,” said West.

Deck the walls

A small space can mean you don’t have room to add more clutter like a tree or even have a mantle to hang stockings. West recommends going with a fake skinny tree that can fit anywhere and using your walls a canvas for unique decorations.

“Be creative with your walls and ceilings. Consider hanging paper star lanterns from the ceiling - whether lit or unlit, a grouping of these will create the effect of a beautiful snow shower in your home,” said West. “If you have a gallery wall you can wrap the frames to look like gifts.”

Don’t be afraid of the dark

Accenting a room with dark features can really open up your space. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, West explains her top reasons why it can help, especially during the holidays:

  1. Clutter doesn't show up as much against a darker wall.
  2. A dark wall doesn't need as much decoration to feel interesting and finished, so you don't have to decorate it as much.
  3. A dark wall acts kind of like a shadow - your eyes don't quite know where it starts or stops. So if you are considering a refresh to your space, why not try a deep paint color?
  4. Bonus - silver and gold metal finishes seem to sparkle just a little more against a deep background. Examples from Ballard Designs/Pinterest and theeverygirl/Pinterest.

Less can be more

Okay, this is a more obvious one but it is easily forgotten. Nothing cramps up a space like too much stuff, before decorating for the season schedule a day for “winter cleaning” and get rid of anything you don’t need.

“Use the "season of giving" to let go of anything you haven't used it a while, or no longer enjoy,” said West. “Give it to charity with a sense of generosity, and let someone else put those neglected things to good use.“

Relax and embrace the season

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in decorations, gifts and family craziness that comes with the holidays. This year, try and focus on staying calm and joyous that you are surrounded by the ones you love, because that’s the reason for the season, right?

“Just remember that perfection isn't the thing that makes memories - your friends and family are there to see you - turn down the lights, light a couple candles, and don't worry about things being perfect. Relax and celebrate a year well-lived,” said West.