Design & DIY

Design tips to make a cramped cottage more spacious

Kitchen storage

No matter the square footage, it’s possible to transform a cramped cottage into an airy, cozy retreat. Here are six design tips—from the right paint colours to clever window treatments—that will keep your pint-sized cabin spacious.

Favour neutral tones with pops of colour

Colour lovers, rejoice! It’s an urban legend that the best colour scheme in a small space is boring all-white or beige. The perfect palette should be a mix of both neutral tones and bold splashes. We love a soft grey wall next to a graphic wool rug and a neutral couch covered with citrus-coloured throw pillows. A mix in textures and patterns can create a lush, homey environment. Alternatively, choose a statement hue for one of the walls, like a rich cranberry, and edit back the rest of the room’s colour.

Use dual-purpose furniture

In a small space, every piece of furniture matters. Invest in signature pieces that work double duty. An upholstered ottoman in the living room works as extra seating, and when outfitted with a tray, transforms into a coffee table. A bench with extra storage underneath is the perfect piece to hide extra flip-flops, sunscreen and bug spray at the front door. Trundle and Murphy beds are space-saving marvels, but a comfy couch in the living room with a pull-out double bed for extra guests is just as practical—and cheaper.

Choose slim silhouettes

When physical space is limited, it’s just as important to focus on the visual space. To keep a small cottage airy and spacious, choose de-cluttering slim silhouettes. For example, a bedside table can be replaced with floating shelves, while skinny towering bookshelves in the living room add height and draw the eye up. Rather than a bulky TV stand, hang your flatscreen on a flexible arm that can be pivoted depending on the occasion. Although the rule of thumb is to hang artwork at eye-level, don’t be afraid to break the rules. We love a gallery wall that reaches nearly all the way to the ceiling. It creates a grand statement without taking up any space.

Get clever with storage

Take advantage of unused space and convert every nook and cranny into a storage solution. The wasted area behind a staircase? Install floating shelves to store books or bring a dresser out of the bedroom to store out-of-season clothes. The awkward area between two closets? Carve out a built-in desk or install a shelving unit filled with cloth-covered boxes or wicker baskets. And don’t forget the wonders of made-to-measure closet systems. Although they’re more expensive than just hanging another rod, you will free up floor space in the rest of the bedroom.