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Big and inexpensive touches that can transform a little house

By Monica Boyd

Breathing new life into a small home is a cinch with the right know-how. “It’s important to know that a small house or room doesn’t necessarily need just small pieces,” says . Make your changes substantial and on-budget, and watch your house be transformed.

A rug can make all the difference. Photo: Photographer: Annette O’Brien, Styling: Julia Green, Campaign: The Style School Series 2

Let in the light

“Natural light is important in a small space,” says Hailey Mitchell, of online interiors store Milly and Eugene. “One trick of the trade is to hang curtain rods that are wider then the window. This allows you to open the curtains wide, exposing the entire window. You’ll have more light, and your windows will seem larger. Directing the eye outside creates a feeling of space. Also hanging curtain rods higher than the top of the window creates the effect of a bigger window and higher ceiling.”

Shake it up

Give your small abode a furniture reshuffle. “Make each area useful and comfortable,” says Brisbane interior stylist Catherine Cornish of Sachs and Cornish. “If you need to purchase furniture, spend money on one really good quality piece of furniture and buy the rest second-hand. It’s cheaper and looks cool.”

Consider what the room’s primary uses are. “Use furniture and objects to differentiate areas,” agrees Cornish. “For example, move a little desk to one corner of a lounge room that informs guests ‘this is a work area’. This way you are utilising every inch.”

Lay a rug

“Lay a rug that is large enough to accommodate a couch, armchairs and coffee table,” says Mitchell. “It makes a great statement, grounds the room and makes your space look more generous.”

Oversized reflections

“A large mirror is guaranteed to transform a room,” says stylist Emily Salom of OMG Styling. “It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money, as long as it is large and high and framed minimally. Try leaning it against a wall, and secure the top to stop it from slipping.”

A mirror not only looks luxurious but gives the illusion of a more generous space. “An oversized mirror is a great way to make a small room feel larger,” agrees Mitchell. “Facing a mirror towards a window will flood the room with natural light, and create a great impact and feeling of space.”

Photo: My Scandinavian Home


“Dressing a room in different textures is an easy way to create cosiness,” says Rebecca Johnson, owner of interiors boutique Bird Lifestyle. “It’s particularly effective if you are working with a monochromatic colour scheme, like white walls and ceiling.  Adding a macrame wall hanging, velvet cushion or woven cotton blanket in a similar shade adds instant style.”

Photo: Bird Lifestyle


“Wallpaper applied to a small space can be impactful,” says Pearson. “It creates a real moment.” Choose a traditional paper, mural, or a contemporary design that emulates natural elements, or a new generation digital print for a distinctive bent. “They’re a great way to add personality and open up a small space,” says Ann-Louise Jansson, ofScandinavian Wallpaper & Decor. “Have a favourite print enlarged, or even a personal holiday snap, to really give the space an edge.”

Go Jungalow!

With Jungalow (think inside-jungle) a thriving trend, bringing greenery indoors has never looked hotter. “More the better,” agrees Morag Barron, co-owner of Little Leaf Co.  Low maintenance plants from the 1970s are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity. “Cascading greenery and succulents are very popular,” she says. “And fast growing, hardy varieties like mother-in-law’s tongue, zz plants and devil’s ivy are ideal for indoors because they thrive in darkness and only require the odd water. They make a dramatic difference to any space, don’t cost a lot of money.””


“It’s not only people who look better by candlelight – so do homes!” says Johnson. “Candles add personality, poetry and ambience,” she adds. “Create a focal point on a coffee table with a collection of candleholders, or light scented candles in unexpected places like the laundry or kitchen. It’s an easy change but it’s effective.”

Photo: Bird Lifestyle


“Create clusters of objects and hang on the wall, or arrange on a bench top,” suggests Johnson. “Group a few small side tables of different sizes to make one coffee table. Look for emerging artisans who turn out beautiful work and who are still affordable; you don’t need a huge budget, just a good eye to create an interesting centrepiece.”

Unique ceramics, prints, antique spoons, old mirrors or pretty shells all make for a high impact presentation with five-star style cred.

Photo: Bird Lifestyle


A packed bookcase always looks impressive. Determine the height you require. For low ceilings, opt for a short bookcase and set under a low-hung print.  If your home features high ceilings, take advantage of the space, and install floor-to-ceiling shelving. “A large bookcase in a small space looks just wonderful, particularly one that wraps around a door, down a hallway or is installed in a small sitting room, library or study,” agrees Pearson.

Elizabeth Clarke
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