Dramatic small spaces are the way to go. Everybody says so. However decking out a powder room in blue frolicking zebra wallpaper, with brass hardware, marble sink, and a chandelier just doesn’t seem like smart idea, yet somehow it works. The experts cite 3 main pieces of evidence as to why this is:
- You can tolerate more chaos in an environment you don’t have to spend all day in (see: daytime drama).
- There’s no point in trying to give the illusion of spaciousness in a tiny room.
- It’s not a huge commitment if you hate it.
So basically dramatic small spaces are the design equivalent to dating on Tinder. Okay. That seems reasonable. But is this one of those “design tips” that only work for those of us with small spaces the size of Big Macs? Or can this work for real folks who don’t exactly have a ton of space to get it wrong with?
The small space I’m referring too in our apartment was our gallery– or foyer if your not planning on installing plaques next to your artwork. The foyer is approx. 13 x 7 feet and has a small hallway attached that connects to all the rooms. It’s the nonleg part of the starfish if you will. The space already had some nice detailing with two archways and a built in bookcase. We knew we wanted to keep our main spaces calm and neutral, primarily using furniture, art, and textiles to bring in color and drama. So the idea was to flip this and go bold with our walls in the foyer and keep the furniture and art more utilitarian and sparse. Or if I can’t contain myself (#notaminimalist) maybe just to lay the detailing on real thick and gaudy. More is more dammit.
But, theres more than one way to skin a cat or make dramatic small spaces. Lets review some of the main options I came across in diligent Pinterest research.
The wallpaper in these examples heightens the drama of the space and sets the tone. The imagery chosen can also evoke a time period or color scheme that could also carried throughout the entire apartment. Also who doesn’t love wallpaper with all sorts of crazy shit on top? This is the RuPaul’s Drag Race of drama. Delirious, unexpected, and unforgiving- only for the bravest and most shady of souls.
Color can be terrifying for us neutral folks (🙋🏼). To me it screams I AM A YELLOW BE HAPPY NOW or I AM GREEN THINK ABOUT EITHER PLANTS OR MONEY, DOESNT MATTER YOU FAIL AT GROWING BOTH. Try as we might bold colors invariably have emotions and references attached. I love the look of these spaces but to be honest I am too very “all the colors/emotions of the wind” to get tied down. Trust me it’s exhausting. White it’s nice to be told what to feel every once and a while (hi Nicholas Sparks!) I’m sure on a day to day basis these rooms would just make me mad. Not the vibe I’m going for.
This is where stuff gets heavy. Breaking Bad, Man Men (RIP LANE), House of Cards- this is where television that gets upgrade to cinema feels most at home. These rooms stay sophisticated and versatile but still have drama to spare. I mean at least one person is going to die during February sweeps, for sure. My favorite part? These dramatic small spaces remain neutral. So yes you may need to watch the end of the season between your fingers but at least it’ll match all of your furnishings.
Can you guess our winner?
You know my heart is black as night. I loved the idea of going dark with the foyer. It had drama, versatility, and it wasn’t a color. Hurray! We tried a couple of swatches but ultimately chose BM Witching Hour while keeping the trim glossy Simply White. Bonus points if you can tell any of these colors apart.
It’ll be too dark, depressing, and weird, they said.
Didn’t you already go through your goth phase, they said.
Not fabulous, they said.
Well let me tell you something, she is many things and fabulous is definitely one of them.
The color (BM Witching Hour) is a soft black/deep navy that changes color with the light and works marvelously with the trim (Simply White) and architecture of our space. It gives our pre-war apartment a grander nature than its 750 square foot size and works with all the adjoining rooms (shades of white/grey). Most importantly? Everything you put on it just pops.
You want proof?
Look at how gross that chandelier looks in the before versus the after. I thought for sure that I’d be getting rid of it but after painting I was like, nope that works. By painting everything black it modernized the space and allowed the vintage pieces to feel like carefully selected heirlooms rather than just belongings that the former tenant didn’t clear out. So sure, my chandelier is covered with toilet roll cardboard tubes (true story) but somehow that’s not quite as obvious after the room got a paint job. So I guess the moral to this story is as simple as that- go big with small spaces and people will ignore their imperfections and get lost in the drama. Misdirection at it’s finest. David Blaine need not apply.