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How to decorate an excessively large interior space

by Carlene Duffy
Posted: August 26, 2016

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I know what you’re thinking? Who has the problem of too much space? And is this really a problem? Well, I have this problem, writes Interior Designer and The Block TV Personality, Carlene Duffy.

We didn’t set out looking for a ridiculously large home. But because we purchased a burnt down property with an existing concrete slab, our house size for the most part was predetermined. And yes it can be a problem when trying to make your house feel like a home, not a museum/factory. 

So while the Aussie backyard continues to shrink to make way for our larger houses, we are then dealt the task of filling out our interior space. I’m not a minimalist. I love layers and I loathe dead space in a home so I’ve learned a few ways to fill out those empty corners and make my home feel right for me.

1.    Carve up your spaces

How to decorate a large interior space

Image credit: Photo by Natalie McComas and Design by Carlene for Cedar and Suede

Look at your interior spaces critically. Does your living room look sparse despite your sofa, armchairs, rug, coffee table and TV unit all in place? It’s possible that your dedicated living room space is large enough to carve up into two zones:

  • One larger seating area, which includes the TV and largest sofa etc. 
  • Another smaller seating area with something like an occasional chair, side table and lamp. 

I love the idea of creating two zones with the one space, as it promotes versatility of your space. This idea of multiple zones is also effective from a visual perspective as it adds to the dimension of the space, minimising the one-dimensional appearance of which large spaces can be susceptible.

2.    Utilise plants

Decorate your large home with plants

I’ve talked about the benefits of using plants in homes before but the fact that plants so effectively fill dead space is one of the best reasons to include indoor plants in your home. 

Given we are talking about large spaces, consider mature, large flourishing plants with height, or at least plants with the potential to grow nice and big. I also use plants to sit alongside furniture that otherwise isn’t quite large enough for the space. 

3.    Be creative with texture

Mosaic bathroom with different patterns

Large interior spaces can quickly feel cold if not given the right treatment. This doesn’t just apply to soft furnishings but also to your hard surfaced areas. 

You’ve probably heard the old adage that to make a small bathroom feel larger, lay large tiles. This theory is a bit simplistic and on the contrary, I love the interest and texture that mosaic tiles provide in bathrooms, big or small. 

Think about using a penny round or herringbone mosaic, which are ideal for creating interest through their small pattern detail. Subway tiles laid in any pattern (herringbone, stacked vertical, stacked horizontal, brick laid etc.) also provide plenty of texture without having to go as small as a mosaic.

4.    Lay large rugs

Living room with large fluffy pillows and rug

I know I sound like a broken record on the rug matter, but when your aim is to especially triumph over excess space, layering with rugs is the ultimate way to fill out floor space. 

Lay rugs under your dining table, under your bed, under the sofa and even use a runner in the kitchen. It’s true, runners are back. I am currently on the hunt for a runner long enough to fill out my own kitchen.

5.    Fill out your walls

Colourful dining and living room with paintings and floating shelves

Art and mirrors are the obvious choice to fill out your large walls but be mindful of choosing pieces that are proportionate to the size of the wall. 

Hanging art gallery style is effective in this situation and you can also very successfully fill out your walls with decorative wall hooks or floating shelves.

6.    Add small ticket furniture items 

Cosy nook with two armchairs, side table and pouf

I have a large living room that isn’t quite large enough to carve into two areas, but I have filled out the space by placing a daybed behind my floating sofa. You could also use a console table if you prefer storage to seating. 

I use two poufs on the floor in addition to the coffee table, which isn’t quite enough to fill out the space on its own. The poufs add another layer and added comfort. A vignette made up of an occasional chair, side table and lamp is also effective for filling out an empty nook in the home.

7.    Be grand with your windows

Elegant living room with large windows, fireplace and soft curtains

Yes, your windows should be large enough to be balanced to the scale of your walls and height of your ceiling, that’s a given. But also think about hanging grand, heavy curtains that puddle on the floor for an opulent look. 

This is one means of window treatment that smaller homes, with low ceiling heights can’t effectively pull off so this is your chance to make your oversized home shine.

8.    Think oversized

Large pendant light in lounge room

If you are more partial to a minimalist aesthetic and really averse to a layered home, you have the option of layering less and instead, really upsizing all your big ticket furniture items. 

This includes things such as your dining table, the pendant/s hanging above your dining table, and with your sofa, think deep and wide. It’s all about getting your proportions right within the space. In my experience, we are more likely to underestimate the dimensions of our home than overestimate when shopping for the home.

9.     Be patient

Lady in a flannel shirt, unpacking boxes in a new home

What can not be brushed over is the fact that filling large homes is costly. So in these homes more than in any others, you should work slowly. Source and collect at a leisurely pace so as to not become burdened and overwhelmed by your spending. 

Being patient with your purchases also means you can buy quality instead of quantity. Don’t be scared to mix vintage finds with good bones that may just need some stripping back and a fresh lick of paint. Mixing new and old both creates an eclectic, interesting interior and helps minimise costs.

Happy decorating.

Looking for career advice specifically in the field of Interior Design and Decoration? Read interviews and tips from more of Australia's leading Interior Designers here.

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Carlene Duffy

Carlene is best known as one half of Michael and Carlene Duffy; the down to earth Gold Coast couple who shared their highs and lows with Australia on 9’s series The Block ‘Glasshouse’. The dynamic duo also featured in Renovation Rumble, and have together established their business ‘Cedar & Suede’.

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