How to Use Color in Small Space Decorating

The most common myth in decorating small spaces in your home is that you must use white on the walls. Nothing could be further from the truth! Here are some easy guidelines to using color in your small rooms or homes!

It is true that lighter tints of your chosen color scheme on the larger surfaces of a room, such as your walls and floors, do help a room look larger and brighter. But this doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with white!




Use a lighter version of your favorite hue on the walls, and then add some brighter or richer highlight in small areas, such as the accessories, curtain trim, or painted furniture.

color small space decorating


Speaking of your furniture, remember not to clutter up a room with five different types of furniture finish. Pick one color that goes well with your chosen color scheme, and paint all the furniture in the room the same color. This will tie the furniture together and cause your eye to glide over the room more effortlessly, making the room appear larger. If you have large pieces of furniture against a wall, or built-ins such as this  bathroom, consider painting the same color as the wall…it will seem to melt into the wall visually, expanding space. Use small accents to add pops of color around a room.



If you have an open floor plan as many modern homes do, keep the eye moving by using related colors in every room. Use colors next to each other on the color wheel and in the same color family such as blue, blue green, and green or yellow and melon. Alternatively, you can use the same print fabric throughout all the rooms, and then use a different color from the print fabric on each room’s walls. To tie all the rooms together, paint all the woodwork the same color, or all the ceilings the same color. In the example below, the green, yellows and melons lie next to each other on the color wheel, and they are all the same value against a bright white background to keep the room looking light. The art over the fireplace echoes the colors in the room. This continuity allows you to use lots of color in a small room, yet not close it in.



This photo also sticks to colors close on the color wheel. Throw in a neutral to ground the stairs, and paint all the woodwork white and you have a recipe for a colorful small space.



Finally, be sure the room you are decorating is one you actually WANT to make look bigger. Just because its small, doesn’t mean you have to fight it! Many times if I am working in a room smaller than 13×13 I actually prefer to take advantage of the cozy space and make the most of it! I use rich and deep colors on the walls, with some light accents and white to keep it from looking dungeon like, but allowing the natural character of the small space wrap you in comfort! Bathrooms, smaller bedrooms…even your laundry room is a great place to showcase those rich earthy tones!


Image Credits: bhg, Th Lovely Side, Desejo Concedido, BHG, BHG, BHG

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Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates & Steve Bates (co-owners) – Woodard Bates Media LLC consisting of three blogs:, and

Kathy Bates’ previous writing credits include:

Former home decorating expert for Lifetime TV, Galtime and Country Woman Magazine.

Her book spent time at #1 on Amazon’s Home & Garden Topseller List in 2002.

Published or featured in numerous national publications, including:

Country Sampler’s Decorating Ideas magazine, Woman’s Day magazine, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Marketwatch, Decorating Solutions magazine, Decorating Ideas magazine, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City News, The Oklahoman, Akron Beacon Journal, Pensacola News Journal and The Telegraph.


  1. Deborah
    March 30, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    Do you have the color chip or number for the Kelly Moore paint called Lemon Chiffon? I lost my chip.

    Thank you so much,

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