Turning your house into a home is all about creating a functional, living space while adding your own individual style to to it.

We are currently finishing off our last renovation jobs to our home before we move next year. Having lived in our house for nearly 12 years, add in two children and one dog later, you can understand how we have amassed household items and effectively outgrown our small first home.

Whilst there are some benefits to living in a smaller home, it’s cozy, intimate and energy efficient, – it can come with its challenges. Fitting all your ‘stuff’ in is often the first challenge to overcome while wanting to make the house feel bigger. If you’re in the same boat, I’ve learnt a few tips and tricks along the way to living in a small house.

+ White is your friend

Decorate your interiors by painting or wallpapering in white tones.  By doing this you create light, airy spaces and a blank canvas for styling.

If you aren’t a natural lover of monochrome styling, don’t worry – you can still create a vibrant colourful home by adding pops of colour with furniture and your styling – think cushions, prints, and pieces for your shelving.

+ Good lighting

Good lighting is a must, particularly with small spaces. Dark rooms not only make the space feel smaller but it can also affect your mood.  Creating a well lit space helps to create a feeling of space .  If you have limited options with lighting, add in options like a large lamp to a living room, that not only functional but also serves as styling.

Don’t just think indoors with this one.  Look at your shrubbery and trees outside any windows. Often this can be overlooked and affect the natural lighting that filters into your home. Cut back trees that block natural light and you’ll see a significant difference. An old 5 metre high plum tree was one of the first things to go when we moved into our home. It was positioned directly outside our dining and kitchen window and once this was gone, the warmth and light that came from this one change was significant.

+ Eliminate Clutter

Whether it’s the amount of furniture items you have cluttering up your home or the items we amass over the years, pare back where you can to create space.

Storage: This is your number one friend. Give everything a place to go and store the items you can’t part with. If you have children and find their toys start to take over the living space, place their favourite ones in a basket that can be packed up and moved back to their room at the end of the day. These small items can create clutter and take over the living space.

Regular spring cleans: With our home, our children acquire ‘stuff’. Bits of this and that from school, home, drawings and craft sessions….you get my drift. It’s not just our kids though.  I like to do a regular spring clean several times a year. Go through cupboards, wardrobes, shelves and drawers. Get rid of anything broken and unusable, store any treasured items and donate or sell items that you no longer want.

I feel so much calmer and ready to face the day when my house is tidy and I’m not overwhelmed by clutter. It also makes it easier to tidy up at the end of the day when there is not as much unnecessary ‘stuff’ hanging around. I appreciate for some a completely tidy house with everything in its place is unrealistic so work to what is right for you.

+ Proportions

Proportions are key to a well designed space. Getting the proportions of a room right can alter the way our rooms and spaces feel.

Large oversized furniture that leaves no space to walk around is just not going to work. It’s important to create a liveable space that your family can enjoy. If you simply must have that large oversized couch, consider the other furniture that occupy the same room.

If you have inherited items, make do with them the best that you can; appreciating we can’t all go out and refurnish our homes with unlimited budgets.  That said if you are on a budget, you can source items like TV units, coffee tables and smaller items for styling through second hand stores, Trade Me and local FB trading groups and up-cycle old furniture to suit your taste and style.

+ Layout

One thing my family know, is a room will never stay the same with me. My husband often comes home to find I’ve rearranged rooms.  I like to play with the layout until it feels just right.

Look at the room that doesn’t feel right and consider how else you could rearrange the furniture to create a more inviting space. If you aren’t sure – start with moving the larger, key items to a different spot until you feel happy. Then start incorporating the smaller items and finish up with styling.

Don’t be restricted to placing key items of furniture in so-called ‘traditional’ locations. Feel free to play until you find your desired layout.


If you have a small space or house, I’d love to hear from you – how have you worked with a small space or what room are you looking to change?