Natural textures and colors can do much for small spaces. Just because they are most often neutrals, they can expand space visually. They blend with one another to make a light, bright palette, nonetheless rich in form and texture. Unlike a white room, they do not give a feeling of sterility. But like white, stretch space and give a feeling of airy splendor to almost any space.
In a tiny living room I designed recently in an old house, naturals seemed to make sense. The room had a northern exposure on one side and the other window, facing east, was under the shadow of a deep overhang. The room was always shady and rather dark, not at all conductive to a brightly colored scheme that would read drab because of the lack of natural light.
I selected two matching, small-scale upholstered pieces, one a generous-sized love seat and the other a three-seat sofa, and covered these in a texture off-white cotton, adding many pillows in natural tones, some gray, some deeper beige and white. Brass wall-mounted swing-arm lamps with glossy white paper shades provide an even, mellow light. A glass-covered natural oak cube is the coffee table for the right-angle grouping. Wicker ottomans with canvas pads and a comfortable wicker chair with the same canvas upholstery complete the seating group. Green plants are cool accents.
To make the walls and windows work with the upholstery, I painted the walls in camel-color to beige. The rich, warm color works with the upholstery and pillows and looks very much like the color of natural oak. The window trim, wide and covered with much molding, is painted bright, glossy white and becomes a clean accent for the room. The windows themselves are covered with natural-color matchstick rollup blinds, very similar to the color of the walls.
For the floor, which are also pale oak, I used an area rug large enough to go under all the sitting furniture. The natural Berber yarns, a wool mix of natural creamy colors, is in a geometric raised pattern in a lighter colored yarn, almost white.