When it comes to trying to make a small apartment feel, well, not small, there are the go-to design tricks you’ve probably heard before: adding mirrors to create more light and depth, hanging oversized art that pulls a room together, and using double-duty furniture to prevent clutter, to name a few. But one overlooked yet very accessible tactic is utilizing light and dark colors to create designated spaces within your limited space — and the team at Clodagh Design is spreading their knowledge on that very principle.
Clodagh, founder of Clodagh Design, and Jose Achi, Director of Design Development, recently spoke with Apartment Therapy inside the Miraval Berkshires, a wellness resort in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. They designed the resort to have both compressive corners for individual or intimate gatherings as well as spacious areas for mingling, creating intentional spaces within one large space. And while it seems impossible to replicate a similar dynamic in a tiny apartment, they reassure that by using dark and light colors in a correct manner, you can create similar, intentional sections, no matter the square footage.
“Dark color compresses, and you don’t realize it, [until] you open up into a lighter area,” Achi said. And while small apartments are restricted with square footage, Achi explains that entryways are a great way to infuse compression and expansion with color. Paint your entryway a dark, moody shade, and then allow for the connecting living space to be a light color, which makes it feel much more expansive with the contrast.
In addition to color, Clodagh mentions that directional lighting can also create a feeling of compression and expansion, which is good to keep in mind so you don’t unintentionally make your space feel smaller when adding lighting fixtures. “The lighter expands, the darker compresses — down lights are compressive, up light are expansive. So you’ve got to balance your light very carefully when creating space through lights,” Clodaugh said.
Since mostly everything is easily visible in tiny apartments, Achi recommends utilizing indirect sources of lighting so you can create a glow versus dots on the ceiling, not only for design but functional purposes (aka all corners are lit equally).
So the next time you’re looking to lean into tips for making your small space feel larger, think color and light. Those small shifts between dark and light contrasts can go a long way.