Need space for a study nook, more storage or a chill out zone? Transform an empty corner of the house into a functional space.

We spoke to Homemaker the Valley’s stylist, Morgan Braithwaite and got her top tips on turning an empty corner of the home into a stylish new space.

Creating new spaces

There are so many different things you could do to an empty corner, not just to jazz it up but to make it a functional space.

Study nooks and reading corners are always a great way to style an empty corner. Style reading corners with a large statement occasional chair (if there’s room), add a floor lamp and well styled side table.

Another great idea for these spaces would be to use it as a form of gallery or display for items that you have collected or family heirlooms and picture galleries. It creates little nooks of interest throughout your home, where people can get an insight into the personality and life of the owner.

In any space, make sure you incorporate some accessories that make the space appealing and welcoming and make sure that it has purpose.

If the space in your house is somewhere where there is a lot of activity and purpose, like a living room or TV room, you might consider using the empty corner for displaying items instead.

Try creating a beautiful gallery of prints and photos using a large portion of wall, where it can be viewed while people are utilising that space.

Spaces off the kitchen could be utilised as a form of ‘home hub’, where you can incorporate a console with a key bowl, a photo gallery or even a pin board with some inspiration pictures, photos and reminders. However, spaces like these can get a little over cluttered with bills and papers, so consider buying a desk or sideboard with some storage, like draws or a cupboard to be able to hide the mess.

How to style

When styling small spaces, make sure you utilise wall space as much as possible. Hang some modern shelving on the wall and use it to house some interesting accessories, like plants.

Use plants that are more sculptural with height, as well as some climbing plants that can cascade down the shelf adding a little drama to the space.

Mix it up when selecting the plant holders too, think mixing generic pots with interesting vases or earns, or similarly you can use a basket in a natural finish or a metal wire basket.

Add a focal point

A great way to create a styling focal point in your room is to bring in some lighting. Try ambient lighting in the form of a table lamp with a beautiful fabric lamp shade, or even a small laminated light that may sit on some shelving. This will create a warm and inviting atmosphere, and will also help to highlight the things you have on display.

When styling accessories on a table or on a set of shelves, make sure you highlight your larger pieces and make them focal points. I always place the feature or focal point a little off centre, and then I start clustering objects around. Play with size, shape, colour and texture when grouping your objects and always remember the magic number of three when grouping objects.

Incorporate some art pieces too, think of some smaller more cost effective canvas pieces that you can get framed into a box frame. A lot of the time, these can be simply placed on a table and you can create a layering effect of frames. You can also use a lot of the pre-finished frames from retailers, and fill them with some modern printed art or graphic designs.

Keep empty space

While you may think you need to jazz up every corner of the home, it’s always important to keep some corners of your home blank canvases.

Sometimes people think they need to fill every corner and every wall of the house with something, but they don’t. Just pick a space that you feel you will be able to best utilise in the house as a space for displays, storage, or it might be a study nook or sitting area for relaxing or reading.

When you dedicate certain spaces as focal points and interest in your home, it is important to also have somewhere for the eye to rest.

Sometimes people can get caught up in trying to fill spaces in hallways, or loft areas near a staircase and a lot of the time these spaces should just be stay minimal with the amount of furniture that is incorporated. Just try and include a key piece of art on the wall, where people will be able to walk past and view.

You could also use these spaces to place a single, large statement pot with a feature plant. This will bring greenery and life into some fairly boring spaces.

Just always make sure that the space has a purpose, and make sure that it isn’t overdone.

Colours

If you have a space that is dark, for example with a dark wall colour, you can enhance the use of this dark background by layering some more dark tones in furniture pieces.

Then, play on the dramatic impact by using some bold colour accessories to style the space. Think jewel tones and colours like cobalt blue and emerald, as well as metallic items and even the use of fluoro colours. This will add a burst of colour, which will really pop against the dark background.

However, if the space is dark because it’s lacking in natural light, it might be an opportunity to style the space with some lighting, like a statement floor lamp or a piece of furniture with a table lamp.

If the space is bursting with an abundance of natural light, use this as a great opportunity to bring in some living plants that can strive on the sunlight coming into the room.

You can enhance this organic natural look with lighter tones, neutral colours and textures. Think oatmeal colours, jute and tones of grey. You can also use other striking tones as seen in chambray, tan colours in leather and even soft pastels to really encourage the light and airy feeling that a light-filled room can bring.

Storage

A great way to incorporate storage into small areas is to use high display shelves, which will give you levels of storage in a small square space in the room. The different shelves can be used to store books and ornaments that you may want to have on display.

Break the look up by incorporating baskets and boxes, which can also be used to store things away. Use repetition, with the line up of magazine holders, where you can store editorials that you may collect.

Another great way to use a small space as a functional corner of your home is to use ottomans or bench seating. These can have upholstered seats, which can be dressed up with some scatters and a throw. You can utilise the inside of the ottoman or bench, by lifting up the seat and using it as storage.

If you’re in need of some styling help, Morgan Braithwaite is available for free styling sessions at Homemaker the Valley – located on the corner of Ann and Wickham Streets, Fortitude Valley. For more information visit www.homemakerthevalley.com.au/stylist

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