Small Space Decorating with an Open Plan

Mentor LeAnne Bunnell, Principal of elle design, shares insight and great tips on small space decorating with an open plan!

Small space? Open Plan?  Some tips and hints for your home:

We’ve all been there, or want to do it: the walls come down to make a small home feel larger.  Be gone pokey little rooms!  You are banished maze-like hallways!  Welcome in long sight lines and natural light from other directions


Its not all that easy though.  After the dust settles there are some things to keep in mind.

Space Planning:

  • The measuring tape is your friend: complete accurate measurements of your space and your furniture.
  • Note any permanent architectural details that you want to highlight, or minimize.
  • Watch for sight lines.  What do you see when you first walk in?  Where does your eye go when you are sitting on your sofa?  Do you have a perfect view of the dishwasher?
  • Ensure you use all areas of your space to their best advantage.
  • Allot sufficient spacing around furniture for circulation but recognize you may have to ‘cheat’ some placements to accomplish your goals.

Furniture Selections:

  • Choose tidy pieces with tailored lines.  Don’t give up valuable real estate to oversized arms or pieces that don’t function well.
  • Look for narrow or open arms on furniture. Armless pieces work well to maximize seating.
  • Use double duty pieces like a chest of drawers over just a hall table.
  • Low profile backs on seating allows you to see the views beyond and makes a space expand.


  • Monochromatic selections for your walls, floors and large furniture pieces is a tried and true way to expand a small space… but remember monochromatic does NOT mean it all has to be beige.
  • Every flooring change tricks your eye into thinking the room stops at that line.  Blur the edges of each room, and allow for more flexibility in space planning by keeping flooring consistent throughout a small space.
  • Judicious use of contrast is important in an open plan. Recognize that each change in surface or contrast element you add makes your eye stop and register. This CAN be a good thing! Add drama through the addition of colour, pattern and texture.
  • Create vignettes throughout your space that repeat design elements (material, colour, texture, pattern, shapes) to make your home feel cohesive, consistent and thoughtful.



  • Clutter is an open plan enemy! Choose furniture pieces with storage options, or invest in custom built-ins.
  • Guide your eyes from room to room by varying heights of the art and furniture along the walls.
  • Small rooms do not necessarily equal small furniture. Always go with the least amount of large seating elements that will fit your space.
  • Try before you buy: a roll of painter’s tape, a friend and your trusty measuring tape will allow you to layout potential furniture plans on your floor to ensure a good fit!

If you would like to know more about having your room professionally designed and decorated, contact LeAnne Bunnell of Elle Design in Calgary.


13 Responses to “Small Space Decorating with an Open Plan”

  1. Decor Mentor Says:

    LeAnne, Such great professional tips! This is a article people will want to continue to refer back to!


  2. Tania @ Passport2Design Says:

    Great tips for an open space interior, LeAnne! I’ve always been a fan of your work, you create truly special spaces. Thanks for sharing :)


  3. Nyla Says:

    Another beauty LeAnne! Great images and a wealth of info.


  4. LeAnne Says:

    Thanks Nyla; you’re so sweet. :)


  5. Bree Palmer Says:

    LeAnne this article is great! saved it to my instapaper and will be re reading at a later date when I am sure I will need some great small space advice. amazing images too!


  6. Sarah Says:

    Great article … many helpful tips with a very practical application. Love your posts on Decor Mentor, LeAnne.


  7. Jacqueline Corea Says:

    Great tips LeAnne! There is some great information in this article that people really need to consider before opting for an open floor plan. Great job!


  8. Lisa Says:

    Fantastic advice, many things in here you just don’t think about until the walls are down! Thanks!


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