As you reach your fifties, sixties and beyond, you may be considering downsizing, or moving to a home that’s more suited to your needs and lifestyle. Bungalow, small house, or a retirement living apartment – there are plenty of choices.

And the advantages of downsizing are plentiful. Financial savings from heating a smaller space and freedom from cleaning and maintaining a large family home, to name a few. Of course, making a fresh start in a new setting can also be just the opportunity you need, with downsizers looking forward to the prospect of decorating their new home and making it their own.

Yet tackling a smaller property renovation can be very different, especially if you’re used to larger rooms and lots of space. Here, Marie Buckingham from luxury retirement apartment developers, Burghley Retirement Living, shares her tips on how to infuse a smaller property with personality; without it becoming cluttered and chaotic. Here’s her top five décor tips for smaller spaces.

  • Create optical illusions

When decorating any property, most people think they must paint the ceiling and woodwork white but taking the same colour (or a similar range of hues) of the walls across the ceiling can help to create the illusion of space. This is known as ‘colour drenching’. The reason it works is that it makes you less aware of where the walls end, and the ceiling begins.

If you paint your skirtings and doorframes in similar colourways, it can also merge room boundaries and trick the eye into thinking the room is bigger than it is. Even painting radiator covers or furniture the same as the walls will help them to blend and can create the illusion of more space.

Colour blocking is another way to blur the lines of a smaller room. Take a block of colour up one wall and partway into the ceiling to frame a bed and elongate the walls into the ceiling space. Or create a colour blocking pattern that goes over several walls to bring the gaze across the walls or add a focal point in the room.

  • Choose colours for smaller spaces

When it comes to colour, it’s more about your own unique sense of style than following any set rules around decorating a smaller space.

People often think that you need to use light colours in smaller room and there’s a lot to be said for bouncing light off the walls and making the space feel bright and airy. However, brilliant white can have the opposite effect. It creates shadows that feel severe and can cut the room in half in certain lights.

Instead opt for lighter neutral shades, or something like a bright teal that will absorb the shadows and create a feeling of space.

If your style is bolder, then colourful palettes can add energy to a smaller room – use pops of complimentary hues on furniture and decorative pieces such as soft furnishing and ornaments.

Dark colours have their advantages too. Choosing darker shades can have a cocooning effect, making a room feel lovely and cosy, or representing a decadent style statement.

Remember to test your colours in all lights, both artificial and daylight, as they can appear wildly different.

  • Maximise floor space

To optimise your storage and decorative space without cluttering up the floor try floating shelves or nightstands. This creates the illusion of more square footage on the floor. You can then use the space beneath for further storage with pretty, decorative baskets or boxes.

Opt for furniture with legs and space underneath, as even though it may be the same surface area, it will feel like there is more floor space. And glass topped tables and shelving will allow light to flow and feel less cluttered.

  • Introduce a bold centrepiece

A centrepiece in a small space can draw the eye’s focus and distract from the size of the room. A statement piece of art or a patterned piece of furniture for instance will instantly capture attention as you walk into a room.

Don’t feel this has to be large – there are ways of making a statement without it being oversized and too big for the room. Pattern, bright colours, and graphic art are your friends in a smaller space.

  • Use multifunctional furniture

There are some very clever furniture designs that will help you to maximise the square footage of your smaller home. For example, do you need a desk or dining table all the time? If not, then you could install furniture that folds up when not in use. Beds can house ample storage underneath, dining tables can expand or retract, or what about a nifty expandable bookshelf? Utilise the best of your space with furniture that adapts to meet your needs.

Burghley Retirement Living is a specialist provider of one and two-bedroom luxury retirement properties. To find out more about luxury retirement living with Burghley Retirement Living in Shipley, Derby, Thornton-Cleveleys, and Brighouse, visit