Roundup: Small Space Wall Decor

One of the goals of small space living is to shift emphasis away from belongings, and redirect time and energy towards experiences instead. One of the ways we practice this philosophy and further simplify our lives at the Cottage is by finding alternatives to traditional wall art. 

I feel the need to preface this by sharing that I'm a fervent lover of the Arts. My mother has been a champion of arts education, and she made sure that her own children were immersed in the arts. I've worked professionally and enthusiastically with galleries, museums, and libraries for over a decade. I am an avid believer that art experiences and appreciation are vitally important for people of every age and background. 

But now, with finite walls and very limited storage options in general, we have to get creative in devising places to store our essentials for daily life. As such, I no longer regard our walls as being reserved strictly for 2-d art. Luckily, hanging a basket, guitar, plate, or scarf can be beautiful, AND save storage space. Plus you can change up your look with ease by swapping out pieces, while allotting spots here and there for more traditional works of art that speak to you. 

So grab a scarf off your wall and step out! Let’s go to galleries, become museum members, support street artists, and visit art fairs with the folks we love. And when you're back home, take a quick moment to consider these easy, inexpensive, and practical ways to liven up lil' walls:

USE THEM FOR STORAGE
Create functional, decorative walls by artfully hanging select everyday items. This will free up valuable space in your drawers and cabinets.

 Above: I love this simple yet personality-filled room that I visited recently. A horizontal hanging made of oversized beads takes up plenty of wall space, while providing a place for the designer-- my friend and neighbor  Heather Tierney -- to hang some of her necklaces.

Above: I love this simple yet personality-filled room that I visited recently. A horizontal hanging made of oversized beads takes up plenty of wall space, while providing a place for the designer-- my friend and neighbor Heather Tierney-- to hang some of her necklaces.

 Left: The front tiny cottage. Market baskets are displayed as decor when not in use. Right: The front tiny cottage. Kitchen goods, such as a spoon rest, bottle carriers, candles, measuring cups, and more are on view as functional art.

Left: The front tiny cottage. Market baskets are displayed as decor when not in use. Right: The front tiny cottage. Kitchen goods, such as a spoon rest, bottle carriers, candles, measuring cups, and more are on view as functional art.

 Left: The back tiny cottage. A found branch is repurposed for bath storage. Right: The back tiny cottage. A mixed-media gallery wall in the bedroom holds a half-moon basket that stores our son's brushes, alongside hats, a grape leaf from our garden, and an ink drawing by an Insta-friend/Etsy artist.

Left: The back tiny cottage. A found branch is repurposed for bath storage. Right: The back tiny cottage. A mixed-media gallery wall in the bedroom holds a half-moon basket that stores our son's brushes, alongside hats, a grape leaf from our garden, and an ink drawing by an Insta-friend/Etsy artist.

 Left: The back tiny cottage. Adam's bedside wall holds our son's diaper changing roll, as well as hats and clothes. Right: The front tiny cottage. A  mirrored wall basket with hooks from Wayfair  holds a coloring book, a leather note roll, a produce bag, a leash, and keys.

Left: The back tiny cottage. Adam's bedside wall holds our son's diaper changing roll, as well as hats and clothes. Right: The front tiny cottage. A mirrored wall basket with hooks from Wayfair holds a coloring book, a leather note roll, a produce bag, a leash, and keys.

OPEN THEM UP WITH MIRRORS
No new news here-- we all know that mirrors can help make a small space feel larger. Reflect light and open up a room by using an oversized mirror, or give your walls more depth by using multiple smaller sizes.

 Left: The front tiny house. A collection of rattan mirrors in West's room bounce sunlight around an otherwise dark section of the space. Right: The back tiny house. A series of simple hanging mirrors enlarge the tiny bedroom and help disguise an ugly (disconnected) wall heater.

Left: The front tiny house. A collection of rattan mirrors in West's room bounce sunlight around an otherwise dark section of the space. Right: The back tiny house. A series of simple hanging mirrors enlarge the tiny bedroom and help disguise an ugly (disconnected) wall heater.

 Left: The back tiny house. Here are two views of the same space. The oversized mirror above the desk makes this room feel exponentially brighter and more cheerful. (We once removed the mirror to repaint the wall, and the house instantly felt darker and duller.)

Left: The back tiny house. Here are two views of the same space. The oversized mirror above the desk makes this room feel exponentially brighter and more cheerful. (We once removed the mirror to repaint the wall, and the house instantly felt darker and duller.)

BRING THEM TO LIFE WITH PLANTS
Plants will immediately make a home feel more inviting, while adding color and pattern, and even improving the air quality. I place most of our plants on invisible floating bookshelves. It's a quick and easy way to create a dynamic and easily updatable look at a very low cost. I don't even buy pots for the plants, and opt instead to continue using the containers in which the plants came. This makes everything even more affordable, while also ensuring that there's nothing to shatter if the plants tumble down during an earthquake. 

 Above: The back tiny cottage living room, with plants propped on invisible floating bookshelves.

Above: The back tiny cottage living room, with plants propped on invisible floating bookshelves.

 Above: The back tiny cottage kitchen, with herbs planted in wall pots near a window.

Above: The back tiny cottage kitchen, with herbs planted in wall pots near a window.

 Left: The cottage porch, with a living garden wall. Right: The back tiny cottage, with a plant on a floating shelf in the background, and market greenery displayed via reusable bags.

Left: The cottage porch, with a living garden wall. Right: The back tiny cottage, with a plant on a floating shelf in the background, and market greenery displayed via reusable bags.

 Above: My friend Lindsay's stunning home,  Casa Joshua Tree . I love how she created a beautiful mantel vignette (at a low cost) with potted cacti.

Above: My friend Lindsay's stunning home, Casa Joshua Tree. I love how she created a beautiful mantel vignette (at a low cost) with potted cacti.

GIVE THEM TEXTURE WITH CLIPPINGS
If you don't have the patience for plants but you still want the look, try dried items or clipped greenery. There are a myriad of ways to display lightweight bundles or branches from your walls.

 Above: My friend and neighbor  Heather Tierney  used a dried branch above her bed in lieu of a headboard or framed art. The draped capiz shells catch and reflect the sunlight in this Venice home.

Above: My friend and neighbor Heather Tierney used a dried branch above her bed in lieu of a headboard or framed art. The draped capiz shells catch and reflect the sunlight in this Venice home.

 Left: My friend  Lindsay of Casa Joshua Tree  suspended a tumbleweed from her ceiling to create striking visual impact at no cost. Right: Polly of  This House Our Home  tied dried eucalyptus to a driftwood branch, creating a lovely, natural work of wall art that can be modified to be as full or sparse as desired.

Left: My friend Lindsay of Casa Joshua Tree suspended a tumbleweed from her ceiling to create striking visual impact at no cost. Right: Polly of This House Our Home tied dried eucalyptus to a driftwood branch, creating a lovely, natural work of wall art that can be modified to be as full or sparse as desired.

 Above: The cottage porch, decorated with inexpensive  glass beaker vases  (simply tacked to the wall), and market clippings.

Above: The cottage porch, decorated with inexpensive glass beaker vases (simply tacked to the wall), and market clippings.

 Above: These simple strings of faux-florals made Olive & June one of the most instantly recognizable spots on Instagram. The garlands leave the walls feeling open and airy, while adding color and texture. Bunting like this can be made to accoMmodate walls of any size.

Above: These simple strings of faux-florals made Olive & June one of the most instantly recognizable spots on Instagram. The garlands leave the walls feeling open and airy, while adding color and texture. Bunting like this can be made to accoMmodate walls of any size.

TURN THEM INTO A LIBRARY
Put your books on double-duty by storing them in a decorative way.

 Above: The back tiny cottage: A wood + wire bookshelf mounted on the wall displays books as art.

Above: The back tiny cottage: A wood + wire bookshelf mounted on the wall displays books as art.

 Above: The headboard of @AllThatIsShe

Above: The headboard of @AllThatIsShe

 Left: A hand-crafted bookshelf-nightstand on Etsy. Right: Hanging book bins that keep kids titles on view and at-the-ready.

Left: A hand-crafted bookshelf-nightstand on Etsy. Right: Hanging book bins that keep kids titles on view and at-the-ready.

COVER THEM WITH TEXTILES
You can decorate your walls with textiles without feeling like you're tossing up a tapestry from college. Repurpose beautiful rugs, blankets and scarves by bringing them up onto your walls.

 Left: My neighbor  Heather Tierney  used an indigo cloth to decorate a larger wall. The textile draws the eye upward, adding height to the room. Right: My friend  Lindsay of Casa Joshua Tree  used a Blockshop scarf to add color and a modern, geometric look to her entryway.

Left: My neighbor Heather Tierney used an indigo cloth to decorate a larger wall. The textile draws the eye upward, adding height to the room. Right: My friend Lindsay of Casa Joshua Tree used a Blockshop scarf to add color and a modern, geometric look to her entryway.