Designer Insider Tips From Tracie Butler
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Size Matters1 of 11
By Emili Vesilind
When it comes to decorating smaller spaces, it's important to think big. Which is why we asked interior designer Tracie Butler — the decor mastermind behind some of Hollywood's hottest homes, clubs and restaurants — to spill her secrets on how to make any room feel roomier.
Let There Be Light2 of 11
Rather than take up space with floor and table lamps, look for "lights that hang from the ceiling," says Butler, who's currently "loving anything vintage from the '40s through the '60s that has a transparency to it. Think pale Murano glass and light-diffusing acrylic fixtures." Butler's motto: "Never cut corners on fabric and lighting."
Object Lesson3 of 11
Disorder doesn't help the space, but if decorative objects are put together in clever, unexpected ways, then they can add a certain vastness to small rooms. Butler likes mixing "bigger things with smaller things — and things you don't feel are necessarily appropriate together." After all, "it always looks good to have a mistake in the room."
Walled Up4 of 11
Butler lightens up the walls, as well, to add the illusion of more space. Super-pale gray and butter cream are currently her favorite hues. For ceilings, "I add 50 percent white to the paint color I used on the walls, so you have color continuity with the walls, but it opens up the space even more," she says.
In Treatments5 of 11
Heavy, weighty or patterned window treatments "are a big no-no in small spaces," says Butler. Instead, opt for light-colored linen drapes without a lining. "Even if I'm doing a guy's room, I'll keep drapes sheer. I always want to have light coming through the fabric."
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Color Cue6 of 11
"The first thing I do is lighten the floors," says Butler. "It makes everything feel so much airier." Try natural hardwood, stone and carpeting, or even a cream-colored area rug.
Mirror, Mirror7 of 11
Take a cue from '70s-era interior design and load your space with mirrors, says Butler, who "always tries to do a mirror that's facing a view or a pool." The reflection will make the room look bigger and brings in the maximum sunlight. And "don't be afraid to put a larger mirror in a small space—it adds drama."
Low Profile8 of 11
Butler notes that a common mistake in small rooms is adding a jazzy, high-pile rug, such as a shag, that "tends to close the space." Instead, "go for a low-pile rug, like a jute or a nice weave." Butler loves brightly colored woven carpets and ombre-dyed rugs that move from light to dark in hue.
Face Forward9 of 11
"In any room, you always need to allow for foot traffic," says Butler. "And in smaller spaces, flow is really important. The back of furniture shouldn’t face the entrance of a room. In a big room, that can work, but it will only make a smaller room look tiny. Having furniture face the door creates impact."
Open Season10 of 11
The scale of furniture in any room can make or break how spacious it looks, says Butler, who picks smaller, more delicate pieces for itty-bitty rooms. Think Lucite tables, ottomans with skinny legs (as opposed to stout, floor-grazing versions) and chairs and sofas with openings in the backs or arm rests.
Screen Time11 of 11
TVs can suck the space (and style) out of any room—even flat screens, if they're placed in a too-central spot. "The TV shouldn't feel like the main thing in the room," says Butler. "I'm still a believer in hiding it in an armoire or bookcase."
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