Published on February 7, 2019

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Photography by Fantastic Frank

If there was ever a space that understood and utilized small square footage, it’s a cruise ship. Albeit, a cruise isn’t always associated with ingenuity in design—until now, with the launch of Celebrity Edge, aka the “ship of the future.” Every inch of the large-scale ship was painstakingly perfected by some of the most forward-thinking designers, like Patricia Urquiola, Jouin Manku, and Kelly Hoppen.

Which got us thinking, how do designers of this caliber carry out small-space planning? It was Hoppen who was tasked with perhaps the most challenging opportunity: designing the 1400-plus bedrooms on the Edge. It turns out that you can learn quite a lot about small-space ingenuity from a cruise shi and replicate some tips in your home.

Zero In On Materials and Textures

Think your bedroom is small? The Edge can relate, with rooms that are 131 square feet. This led Hoppen to get clever with colors, materials, and multipurpose furniture. She chose a muted color palette and textured materials to invoke a relaxed, luxurious vibe while enlarging the space. “I like to layer different materials to create depth and character in a room that doesn’t feel heavy but more comforting,” she says.

Another clever decorating decision was swapping out traditional dark wood furniture for lighter beechwood materials, which gives the illusion of a larger space. You can replicate this at home by choosing lighter wood options instead of darker ones and even by painting your kitchen cabinetry, if possible.

When in Doubt, Add a Mirror

Adding a mirror to a small space is no new trick, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Hoppen elevated the classic optical illusion technique by having one main mirror that acts as a panel between the bathroom and bedroom to make the room more spacious. While it might not be possible for renters to blow out a wall for a large-scale mirror, you can always utilize a large floor mirror to add depth, dimension, and interest to even the smallest of spaces.

Find and Showcase the Focal Point

If you’re not sure how to decorate a smaller space, find the focal point of the room. For the Edge, it was the ceiling-to-floor length windows in each room, which enlarge the space and give stunning views of the ocean. Hoppen arranged the furniture and space to focus on the view.

Find your point of interest at your home, which might be an interesting door frame, unique crown molding, or stunning views from your window. Find the headlining star of the room and put it in the spotlight, decorating around that one aspect.

Make Your Furniture Work for You

Struggling to find furniture for your small space? Take Hoppen’s lead and opt for multifunctional items like retractable tables and writing desks that fold into coffee tables.

She also recommends showing restraint in a small space so items aren’t “too over empowering.”  She chose small cylindrical side tables instead of a bulky coffee table, which could be easily moved around the space and utilized as needed.

Who knew a giant ship could leave us with so much small-space insight and inspiration?

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