Three designers update three living rooms to make the most of a small space.

(Photo: Tracey Ayton.)

Look #1: Modern Mod

Gillian Segal is the first to admit that she’s her own toughest client. “I constantly see what’s new in the marketplace, which makes it difficult to commit in my own space,” says the designer. Segal took the time to curate gender-neutral favourites for her own living room which blends contemporary and traditional styles.

Designer Tips

Play with contrast. When paired with ample natural light, a few darker accents don’t shrink a small space. This charcoal feature wall sets the tone for drama, while an eclectic mix of wood species adds warmth and texture.

Make light a focal point. Light fixtures are the perfect opportunity to experiment with mixed metals. A brass pharmacy lamp creates flattering eye-level light and the perfect reading nook.

Open it up. A glass coffee table helps natural light bounce around the room, and makes show-stopping pieces—like this gorgeous Burritt Bros. rug—stand out.

(Photo: Eric Scott.)

Look #2: Hide and Seek

The yellow accents in this Coal Harbour condo—designed by Gaile Guevara Interior Design and Creative—were inspired by the owners’ beloved Le Creuset kettle. Hailing from the warm Philippines, they wanted to bring a splash of sunshine into Vancouver’s greyer months.

Designer Tips

Let the view do the work. If the selling point is the view, don’t upstage it. A black frame and fixtures that cast diffused light help this fireplace blend into the background at night. It’s a tactic that Guevara calls ironic. “It’s a feature that’s designed to disappear,” she says.

Always consider comfort. The Chinese-Filipino family needed a big enough table for their traditional hot pot dinners. Upholstered swivel-base chairs were then chosen with comfort and accessibility in mind.

The bigger the rug, the better. A floating area rug actually makes a space feel smaller. Instead, find a large rug that tucks under your furniture to cause the opposite effect.


Look #3: Opposites Attract

Built for a bachelor, this pad demanded a polished but masculine vibe. Designer Peter Wilds paired bold prints with ornate details (including that stunning chandelier!) to bring balance to the small space.

Designer Tips

Create optical illusions. Reflections play with light and depth perception, making a cramped corner look and feel larger. Consider how you can incorporate mirrors in unexpected ways—like behind a sofa—to give the impression of extra space.

Consider the purpose. Furniture choices should be dictated by the function of a room, especially when space is limited. But that doesn’t mean you have to think small. If a room is intended for entertaining, select the largest possible sofa that suits your style and space.

Let life choose the details. The final touches on shelves and tabletops should reflect those who live there. In order to avoid clutter, choose items from your personal collection that you always like, or need, to have around.