5 Small-Room Rules to Break

Forget what you've been taught! Top designers throw small-room decorating rules out the window and share how to maximize your space.

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Photo by Sarah Tanskley Clark.

Rule to Break: Keep Knick-Knacks to a Minimum

Small, spare space; sleek, empty surfaces. It's a great look for a trendy hotel room, says New York-based designer Alan Tanksley, but at home, even the smallest space benefits mightily from the addition of favorite objects and collections.

Although the main living space in Tanksley's own studio apartment is just 400 square feet, it provides several of what the designer calls "visual destinations" - arrangements of interesting objects carefully placed on shelves and tabletops to attract the eye. Among his favorite arrangements is a collection of white objects from several centuries and many countries, grouped together on an antique roll-top desk. "Although they're made of different materials," he says, "the objects harmonize because they are a single color."

Which is not to say that colorful objects can't work well in a small space, too; it's just a matter of editing. "Always remember that you need a place for the eye to rest," says Tanksley. "It's better to group a large number of like objects together than to scatter them on every tabletop throughout the room."

 

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