Design & Style
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10 Tips for Small Cabin Decorating

How to enlarge your space ... without tearing down walls!
By Kristin Sutter
Published: February 1, 2012
Even if you'd describe your getaway as “small-ish,” you can still craft it into a comfortable, efficient retreat. To keep your space from feeling cramped, follow these key techniques for creating the illusion of never-ending space. (Now if we could just figure out how to create the never-ending weekend …)

1. De-clutter. If your cabin has become a storage shed for your extended family’s hand-me-down furniture and rummage sale knickknacks, then it’s time to edit. Clutter will prevent your small retreat from feeling like an oasis. So pitch the stuff you don’t love or need.

2. Pick out a new color palette. Whites, creams, and ivories create the illusion of spaciousness by reflecting light. You can also use a monochromatic color palette; without distracting color changes, viewers will get the impression of limitless space. Try painting the cabin walls a light new color, then upcycle that rummage sale dresser by painting it a similar shade to blend into the walls. Hang window treatments that mimic the wall color as well.

3. Create a fun focal point. Remember that clutter? If you couldn’t part with your endearing collection of moose-themed salt-and-pepper shakers, that’s fine. But instead of scattering them throughout the cabin, arrange them as a collection (think shadow box on the living room wall). A focal point allows eyes to rest and distracts them from noticing the dimensions of the room. Be careful, though – too many focal points will result in unwelcome visual clutter.

4. Hang depth-defying artwork. If you want to hang a picture of your son grinning as he shows off his big catch from last summer’s fishing adventure, opt for the version that shows the lake and shoreline in the background, rather than the close-up of his dimples (it’s tempting, we know). Images of landscapes lend the illusion of depth to a room.

5. Invent bonus space with mirrors. Place a mirror on a wall, and it’ll create another dimension – almost like adding on to a room. Position mirrors where they’ll flaunt natural light from windows, give viewers a double dose of your amazing lake views, show off your collection of vintage fishing poles, etc.

6. Amp up the lighting. As much as possible, let natural light into your cozy cabin to highlight existing space. Dark corners seem like nonexistent space, making a room feel smaller. To evenly distribute light, scatter a few lamps in a room rather than using a single overhead fixture. Choose simple window treatments that are easy to tuck away when the sun rises.

7. Scale objects to fit. An overstuffed couch in your petite cabin living room will look, well, overstuffed. Instead, pick furniture with clean lines that’s scaled down to fit the space. That said, don’t clutter your space with lots of tiny furniture. Maintain balance by using just the pieces you need for comfort in sizes that fit your body and your rooms.

8. Employ the amazing multitasking object! You know, choose the ottoman that doubles as extra seating, the cushioned bench that holds extra sheets and pillows for guests, etc.

9. Use vertical lines to create breathing room. Unbroken vertical lines create the illusion of height. So, run vertical elements, like drapes and bookcases, from floor to ceiling instead of cutting them off partway up the wall.

10. Think see-through decorating. A room will look more spacious if viewers can see through the furniture, shelves, coffee table, etc. You can accomplish this by selecting “leggy” furniture, like a rustic log armchair with twiggy armrests. If you don’t have toddlers or roughhousing middle-schoolers to worry about, a glass coffee table is also a great option.
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