7 Ways to Decorate Functionally in Small Homes

I ran out of shelving for all my books!  And I needed an occasional table between these two chairs. Problem solved!
I ran out of shelving for all my books! And I needed an occasional table between these two chairs. Problem solved! | Source

7 Ways to Decorate Functionally In Your Small Home

Decorating with useful & needed objects is a great idea if you’ve decided to buy in bulk. It also provides a stunning look that seems more natural & less contrived than pure "objects of décor" otherwise would.

With homes getting smaller, not many of us have the space for knick-knacks or objects of décor. But you can still decorate, even in a small space. The secret is to decorate using functional objects.

But first things first! It's wise to learn the concepts for decorating! This way, when you bring out a different set of items, or even buy something new, you can display it in a way that remains efficient, uncluttered & beautiful.

Decorating concepts:

  • Consolidating like items or items of the same colour will look tidier & less cluttered.
  • When crafting displays, an odd number of items, to a maximum of 5, will be more pleasing to the eye.
  • Better yet, display one large piece instead of a collection of small pieces. The effect can be dramatic.

Of course, breaking these rules can sometimes create the best results of all. Please enjoy the following ideas!

1. Groceries

Groceries are probably the most abundant & needed of objects. Here are some ideas that allow you to decorate with your bulk purchases.

Instead of a useless decorative table centre, corral a cornucopia on a large wooden cutting board & clear up some counter space.
Instead of a useless decorative table centre, corral a cornucopia on a large wooden cutting board & clear up some counter space. | Source

In The Bathroom

  • A lidded glass container full of soaps
  • A one off crystal dish filled with cotton balls, Q-tips or lip-sticks
  • A large glass floor vase full of toilet paper

Kitchen counter: used grocery jars filled with brown rice, popcorn, almonds & dried hot peppers.
Kitchen counter: used grocery jars filled with brown rice, popcorn, almonds & dried hot peppers. | Source

In The Kitchen

  • A beautiful bowl holding fruit & vegetables
  • An airy container full of onions garlic & root ginger
  • Stacked cans of tomato sauce
  • A wine rack or crate full of delicious wine

An old Kraken Rum bottle containing dishwashing soap. The wine spout controls the pouring speed.
An old Kraken Rum bottle containing dishwashing soap. The wine spout controls the pouring speed. | Source
Cut kale, basil & mint in mason jars.
Cut kale, basil & mint in mason jars. | Source

2. Plants & Flowers

Flowers are beautiful & can freshen & scent a room. But cut flowers are expensive for something that is already starting to die as soon as you’ve left the shop. Hence, the single-stem vase. One flower is inexpensive & just as stunning as a bunch.

Another idea is to place cut vegetables & herbs in mason jars - now that's useful!

Plants absorb carbon dioxide while expelling oxygen. There are also many indoor plants that will clean your home's air. Here are some plant examples that all require the bright indirect light that is easily found within a home:

Air Cleaning Plant
Temperature
Humidity
Boston Fern
Cool
High
English Ivy
Cool
High
Devil's Ivy
Room
Average Room
Spider Plant
Room
Average Room
Bamboo Plant
Room
High
Selloum Philodendron
Room
High
Rubber Plant
Room
High

3. Lighting

Electric lamps come in an overwhelming choice of shapes & sizes. They can be bought inexpensively or improvised from flea-market, second hand or recycled objects.

When you live in a small space, you need to choose each object wisely!

You can buy make-your-own-lamp kits choosing the specific hardware that you need. Then for the lamp itself - anything you can string a cord-set/plug through, such as a statue, vase, jug, urn, globe, teapot, candlestick, canister, clock… use something you love!

But remember, a lamp-shade is just a lamp-shade & not a statement piece. It should be coloured so as to flatter your lamp & blend with the room.

A chandelier will bring glamour to your room. It should have a diameter of 12” less than the width of the table with the bottom 30” above the table. However, it’s better for the chandelier to be too big rather than too small. If you’re going to make the investment, be sure the piece is a statement. They are most widely made of cut crystal, but you can also find them in wrought iron, brass, wood, ceramic, steel, chrome & even paper.

Sconces are the most versatile lighting option. They can be discreet washes of light or fancy illuminated artwork. Place them on either side of the bathroom mirror to prevent shadows on your face.

For the perfect balance of function & mood, make sure every light in your home has a dimmer. Dimmers give you the flexibility to adjust the light according to your needs at different times of the day or year. Brighten the area during activity & lower the light when it’s not needed - adding drama.

Candles provide a warm & cosy light that dramatically adds to the atmosphere of your home.

UCO 12 Hour Beeswax Candles for Candle Lanterns (3.5 Inch), 3-Pack
UCO 12 Hour Beeswax Candles for Candle Lanterns (3.5 Inch), 3-Pack

Display luxurious candleholders or luxurious candles, but not both. For the most dramatic effect, one should be a foil for the other. Opt for gorgeous candleholders cause they’ll be with you forever. Pair them with white or cream candles – whatever suits your décor better.

Beeswax candles have the added benefit of being non-toxic.

 

With all candles – light ‘em or get rid of ‘em. An object unused is just a dust collector! Unless, of course, they're in storage waiting to be used. And even then, they are so beautiful that they can proudly be out on display.

A uniquely shaped vase & old tomato can containing home-made beeswax candles.
A uniquely shaped vase & old tomato can containing home-made beeswax candles. | Source
This gorgeous red tea cup makes such a lovely holder for pencils & erasers.
This gorgeous red tea cup makes such a lovely holder for pencils & erasers. | Source
An old olive oil tin & coffee tin holds cooking utensils.
An old olive oil tin & coffee tin holds cooking utensils. | Source

4. Containers

If your goal is the uncluttered look, then containers are a necessity as they keep everyday clutter out of sight. As well, all of your belongings, regardless of the location in your home, will probably store more efficiently if you use containers.

Make sure you buy the correct containers. They must fit into the designated space as well as fit what’s needed inside.

Measure twice. Carry those measurements & the tape measure with you when you shop for containers.

Above all, take your time & only buy when you are very clear about what you’re looking for. Don’t be content with “this will do”. It won’t. You’ll eventually find what you need. Unused containers just become clutter themselves.

Otherwise, look for "things to put things in" around your home that are both efficient & decorative.

Is there something you love, but rarely use that can be repurposed into a container?

Keep boxes strategically placed about the home to hold those needed odds & ends!
Keep boxes strategically placed about the home to hold those needed odds & ends! | Source
This clock is so large that it makes quite the statement.
This clock is so large that it makes quite the statement. | Source

5. Clocks

Wall clocks, grandfather clocks, train station clocks, pendulum clocks, cuckoo clocks, even a tambour.

Clocks are an incredibly useful, classic decoration with the added attribute of being able to tell you the time!

6. Mirrors

Mirrors are mostly useful because they reflect your image.

However, a narrow room can be widened either by hanging a large mirror or by adding a floor-standing mirror on the long wall.

If the mirror is on a wall that’s adjacent to a window or patio door, not only will it reflect the outdoors, it will reflect double the light into the room therefore brightening it up.

A large framed hanging or standing floor mirror has great presence & adds grandeur without taking up precious space.

Books bring warmth & interest to a home in a way that no other object can.
Books bring warmth & interest to a home in a way that no other object can. | Source

7. Books

Books are invaluable as they provide stories, information & pictures.

There is something very special about books. They contribute to a room’s warmth & intimacy. They also add a layer of interest in a way that no other object can.

For an uncluttered appearance: group your books by colour & store them all on the same plane (standing vertically or stacked horizontally).

For a textured appearance: Mix the colours, sizes & planes of your books & store beloved objects amongst them. However, be warned, this approach can look cluttered.

It’s a matter of individual taste. Experiment!

Do you have a functional decoration that you positively love? Is it one of these?

  • Something that one would consider groceries
  • A plant
  • A candle holder or candle
  • A lamp or chandelier
  • A container (basket, box, can, vase, bowl, etc.)
  • A clock
  • A mirror
  • Books
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It’s a little understood fact that everyone has an innate style of their own. Your style is unique & rest assured, it will not fit inside a category in an interior designer’s dictionary.

You just need to allow your style to come out. Give yourself permission to go wild! You can always change things around later if you decide you don't like it.

I'd love to hear your ideas about functional decorating! Please share in the comments below.

All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without prior permission. Copyright 2015 - 2016.

- Sylvia Leong

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© 2014 Sylvia Leong

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Comments 8 comments

yasirchohan profile image

yasirchohan 2 years ago from Reisterstown

You have some great ideas here. I love flowers, but to be honest I can't afford them. Placing one in a Vase sounds like a good idea. Your hub reminded me I need a clock!


Sylvia Leong profile image

Sylvia Leong 2 years ago from North Vancouver (Canada) Author

Thank you for your kind comment. I hope your flower savings helps you afford the most gorgeous clock you can find!


sheilamyers 2 years ago

These are some wonderful ideas. I can't say I have any great functional decorating in my house. I do use an old coffee tin to store sugar and a candy tin to store my teabags. I also have some of those large popcorn tins like they sell around Christmas that I use for wastebaskets. Every cat I've had would dig through the papers to find used Q-tips and other things to play with. Since I couldn't break them of the habit, I started using those old tins because they have the lid I can put on it and the cats can't get off.


Iris Draak profile image

Iris Draak 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Sylvia, your pictures are a feast for the eyes! I absolutely love your boxes. They are lovely. My husband and I love to pick up rock, bones, shells and paper wasp nests when we are in the woods and on the beach. We do some of the things you listed as well, like grocery stuffs in re-used glass jars. Great ideas!


Sylvia Leong profile image

Sylvia Leong 2 years ago from North Vancouver (Canada) Author

@ Sheilamyers, I love that you use lidded tins for wastebaskets! Repurposing is the best. Whenever my husband & I need something new, it's a competition to see if either of us can figure out a way to use something that we already own. It works more often than not.


Sylvia Leong profile image

Sylvia Leong 2 years ago from North Vancouver (Canada) Author

@ Iris Draak, Thank you for your comment! I must confess that I have a bit of an obsession for "things to put things in" whether it's boxes, baskets, tins or jars. In fact, I currently have more "things to put things in" that I have things to put in them! Ha, ha! Say that ten times fast.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 2 years ago

I love your ideas! The pictures fuel the imagination. Mason jars, boxes, vases - great way of putting them to use. Enjoyed the hub.


Sylvia Leong profile image

Sylvia Leong 2 years ago from North Vancouver (Canada) Author

Thank you anglnwu

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