Whether it’s a shoebox apartment or a particularly tiny bedroom, designer Libby Langdon has seen it all.
“In a big space, the sky is the limit,” Langdon said. “Designing a small space is much more challenging. How do you trick the eye to make a small space feel larger? How do you make it function for your needs?”
In her stint as host of the home makeover show “Design Invasion” and her work on HGTV’s “Small Space, Big Style,” much of the New York-based designer’s career has been focused on small rooms and spaces. On “Design Invasion,” Landgon had 10 hours to completely redo a room, giving her what she called a “training ground” to craft her style and gather tried-and-true tips for small-space design. In 2009, Langdon published her first book with those tips, “Libby Langdon’s Small Space Solutions: Secrets for Making Any Room Look Elegant and Feel Spacious on Any Budget.”
We chatted with her about her style, her career and her advice for designing a small space.
What is most difficult about designing a small space?
People have stuff. We want to hold on to our stuff, and unfortunately one of the worst things that can happen is clutter. What I tell people sometimes is, “When in doubt, throw it out.” As far as rooms go, bedrooms are the biggest challenge. A lot of times people can basically fit a bed in a small bedroom. But what do you need? You need storage, a dresser. But there are things you can do. Instead of just nightstands, you can do two small little dresser drawers. I think balance is important. Get two of the same nightstands and two of the same lamps. Then you have a feeling there is a game plan, which visually helps unify the space.
What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to design a small space?
Small rugs. People put in a tiny little rug, and it looks like a postage stamp. [A larger rug] extends the room. It makes it feel much more expansive. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You can buy wall-to-wall carpet, but have it cut to the size of the room It’s not expensive and has a more luxurious feel.
How would you describe your style?
I would say it’s easy, elegant, everyday. I love rooms that are warm and inviting. Rooms that just feel comfortable and that are livable, nothing too avant-garde or crazy. . . . And I’ve tried trying all different styles, not just regurgitating the same look over and over again. That’s what’s fun.
Any new trends you’re seeing for interior design and small spaces?
Wallpaper is making a huge comeback. It can be fun in a small space if you limit it to one wall. . . . So many of my clients love it. If they are renting . . .there are lines that are removable.
What are some of your go-to design tips?
Have fun with color in a space. Paint is an incredible tool. If you leave the walls white, they won’t seem bigger. White walls do not increase the square footage of a space.
Lighting is so important, too. Sometimes I go into people’s homes, and I see they have one little lamp in a corner, and they are using some kind of overhead light. That makes a space feel cold and unfeeling. If there is an area that’s dark in your space, or a corner that is not lighted, it’s like that square footage isn’t there.
Also with a small space, do not always use lots of little pieces of furniture, which visually clutter a space. You are better off having fewer, larger pieces of furniture.