Nate Berkus Warns To Think Twice Before Painting Small Spaces This Color

When designing a small space, whether it's a major one like the bedroom or a random nook under the staircase, the first thought is usually how to make it appear bigger so you feel like you're getting more out of the space. Many people know you can achieve this by painting the space white, but interior designer and HGTV personality Nate Berkus wants to push back against the notion that this is the only way. In an Instagram post where he dispels some interior design myths, he wants people to think deeper about whether they actually need or want white paint in their small space.

Another common way to make your small space look bigger is to use mirrors because the reflections work to open up the room and bounce light around. So, a couple of mirrors combined with all-white walls will be very helpful in some rooms, such as a basement-turned-office, but it might not be necessary for a bedroom where you want to create a cozy, intimate atmosphere. The main takeaway of this is that you should think beyond what you're automatically expected to do with a space.

Why white isn't always the best color for small spaces

It's a very popular concept in design that painting a small room white will make it feel larger, and Berkus agrees. However, it's more important for him that people think first about what they want to achieve with the space and let that lead their paint choices. "The problem is you have to make the decision as to whether or not you want the room to feel larger," he explains on Instagram.

Is it a room that absolutely needs to feel bigger or can a different atmosphere be created with the smaller space? "There's something really interesting in design when you actually go with the worst quality about a room," he says. "If you think the worst quality about the room is that it's small, why not try painting it dark, maybe even painting the ceiling dark, because that can embrace that and make it really dramatic and really interesting," he suggests. Embracing and enhancing a small space can also involve using warm lights, bold decor, and strong textures.

Think about the purpose and limitations of the space

Instead of trying to make everywhere feel bigger and more spacious, think intentionally about each space and what you can communicate with it. The area underneath the stairs, for example, might be better off with paint colors that will make the space feel even smaller like a warm gray or bright yellow if you want to create a reading nook there because it needs to feel cozy. The foyer or entryway can also benefit from a darker color. If you want to design a more interesting introduction to your home, or want people to feel welcome immediately, a darker paint color can do that for you.

Another thing to consider before painting a small room white is the limitations of the space. White can be notorious for making a place feel flat when used in a space with little to no natural light especially when it's not the right paint shade. When there's no light to bounce off the walls and move around the room, it just ends up being boring and sterile. It's much better to go all in and embrace the dramatic atmosphere of a small, dark room.