03/09/2012 02:48 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Dering Hall: How To Make A Small Living Space Work

Be it a tiny room in a house or a shoebox-sized apartment, decorating small living spaces is always a challenge. While the ultimate goal is to make the place comfy and cozy, a slightly oversized sofa or even the wrong paint color can easily create a claustrophobic atmosphere instead.

Luckily the design experts at Dering Hall, an online marketplace for custom home furnishings, have a few decorating tricks up their sleeves, thanks to designers Tim Clarke and Tamara Magel. They offer their insights here on how to make a small room work for you without having to completely forgo style. Here are a few highlights:

Do up the walls. Picking a darker paint color could work much better than a lighter hue; that's because a deeper, more dramatic color can actually make walls seem as if they're receding from the center of the room. Or, paint the walls with stripes -- Clarke points out how wide horizontal stripes "that wrap around a room" can make it feel larger, while Magel notes how vertical stripes would give the illusion that the ceiling is higher than it actually is.

Versatile furniture. In small spaces, function is key and pieces that can be moved around and used is best. For example, opt for an ottoman, which can serve as seating, footrest or also pinch hit as a coffee table to hold trays and beverages. And a good tip for arranging small space furniture? Clarke suggests placing "at least one solid piece against the wall, and create several areas for conversation with small moveable furniture in an informal, scattered way."

For more small space decorating tips and to learn more about what the pros have to say, head over to Dering Hall.