When it comes to dec­o­rat­ing small spa­ces, one lit­tle rule can make a huge dif­fer­ence

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Stellar - - Contents -

Neale Whi­taker believes big­ger is bet­ter when it comes to dec­o­rat­ing small spa­ces.

Idon’t be­lieve it’s on the statute books, but in in­te­rior styling there is, ap­par­ently, an edict known as the can­taloupe rule. Like all such rules it’s there to be bro­ken, but I find this one quite use­ful. The ba­sic premise is that whether you call them knick-knacks, tchotchkes or life­style ac­ces­sories, noth­ing on dis­play in your home should be smaller than a can­taloupe (or rockmelon), re­gard­less of the di­men­sions of the room or sur­face on which they’re placed. It can, how­ever, be big­ger.

Daft as it might ini­tially sound, the can­taloupe rule is sur­pris­ingly rel­e­vant, es­pe­cially with more and more of us (this colum­nist in­cluded) liv­ing in apart­ments. Noth­ing makes a small space feel smaller than small things. It is ad­vice I could have done with as a kid. My seashell col­lec­tion and teeny Dutch clogs cer­tainly didn’t meet can­taloupe code, nor did the palm-sized Eif­fel Tower. My pre-ado­les­cent bed­room must have looked like a gift shop – for elves.

But can­taloupes aside, think­ing big re­ally is the best way to go in a small space. Any­thing that draws the eye up­wards will make a room feel taller. Floor-to-ceil­ing shelv­ing (or shelves placed at a height) is a great idea, and although they’re not for the faint-hearted, ver­ti­cal stripes on walls can have an elon­gat­ing ef­fect. Like­wise, an over­sized rug with stripes run­ning length­ways will sug­gest the room is longer. Re­mem­ber that un­less you want the room to feel like a 19th­cen­tury opium den, light is the most ef­fec­tive way to max­imise its size. And choose pale colours that re­flect, rather than ab­sorb, light.

As ev­ery 1970s night­club owner can at­test, mir­rors are also your best friend in a small space. I live in an apart­ment full of them and they make it feel twice the size. But large mir­rors can be ex­pen­sive for sure, so think about hang­ing a group of smaller mir­rors, gallery-style, as if they were art­works. Don’t as­sume ei­ther that small-space fur­ni­ture needs to hug the walls. Mov­ing the sofa and chairs into the room to al­low pas­sage around them will cre­ate an il­lu­sion of space, plus you can al­ways pop a con­sole or cre­denza be­hind. And the can­taloupe rule not only ap­plies to ac­ces­sories, but to fur­ni­ture too. One over­sized piece can add scale and drama to a small room. I once saw Gaetano Pesce’s volup­tuous Up Series chair in a stu­dio apart­ment and it looked stun­ning. That chair ain’t called Big Mama for noth­ing. Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-at-large of Vogue Liv­ing.

“Think­ing big when dec­o­rat­ing re­ally is the best way to go in a small space”

SIZE MAT­TERS (clock­wise from left) Floor-to-ceil­ing her­ring­bone bath­room tiles make a su­per-sized state­ment in this Mel­bourne bath­room by MMAD Ar­chi­tec­ture; a large wo­ven rug gives this small liv­ing room the ap­pear­ance of space; this look by Kim Ver­bist In­te­ri­ors ticks the can­taloupe rule, with the Fog & Mørup pen­dant light adding drama.

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