Queer Eye’s Bobby Berk reveals how to big up a small space

As the interiors expert on Netflix’s Queer Eye, Bobby Berk has all the tricks and tips for giving compact rooms more clout.

First things first: in small spaces every piece of furniture has to have a reason for being there and, where possible, multitask. Also, go for pieces with clean, sleek lines – big furniture won’t make a small room feel more comfy, it will weigh it down. Another important factor to bear in mind when space s at a premium is how you use it. For example, if you entertain regularly, you could invest in wooden cubes that double up as coffee tables, seating for guests and transportable storage areas that can be dotted throughout the home.

Bobby Berk tips for small spaces

  • A neutral palette, warm wood and tactile upholstery make this bijou space more inviting, while the clean lines of the furniture from my new range create a lighter feel

In terms of choosing a colour palette, pale neutral shades should be your go-to. Subdued tones such as dove grey, biscuit and chalky pink really open up small spaces and are the perfect foil for vibrant accessories. It is worth noting that light shades make walls recede, while dark colours will envelop the space, making the walls close in. 

Bobby Berk tips for small spaces
Image: Inger Marie Grini. Stylist: Line Dammen/House Of Pictures
  • If space is tight, multitasking pieces are key. This bed doubles as a seating area and has storage inside
  • Get stuff up, up and away – open shelving doesn’t just look great, it covers a lot of unused space, making it a savvy storage option
  • When mixing colours, textures and patterns pick ones that complement each other to create cohesion

Once you have worked out your colour palette, it’s time to focus on textures and patterns. You need to find a balance between not too plain but not too busy. In a bedroom, for example, try white sheets then add a throw in a neutral shade. This will provide enough texture without relying on bright pops of colour, which can make a small room appear cluttered. 

Bobby Berk tips for small spaces
Image: Rory Gardiner
  • In this galley kitchen handle-free cabinets and clutter-free surfaces create a seamless, more spacious look
  • Here dark colours contrasted with neutral tones add depth to a small area
  • A walk-in pantry gives the illusion of roominess and the tall cabinets make use of every bit of wall

For those wanting to make a statement, a gallery wall is the way to go – but use it wisely. When hanging pictures start high to draw the eye upwards, this will give the room a sense of height and make use of every bit of space. Also be bold with your selection of pictures – small images slotted in between larger ones will actually make the wall look larger and setting them against a white or pale backdrop will enable your artwork to blend seamlessly into its surroundings.

Bobby Berk tips for small spaces
Image: Andrea Papini
  • Just because space is tight doesn’t mean you can’t be bold. This gallery wall’s mix of prints looks fabulous 

A common mistake people make with a small space is trying to divide up living areas using colour blocking or creating hard lines. This approach will make your space feel cramped as opposed to cohesive. Instead focus on one design thread that can be carried throughout the home, such as a colour or pattern, to create a sense of unity.

Bobby Berk tips for small spaces
Image: Moser Pendant Light, louispoulsen.com. Stylist: Kristin Lagerquist/House of Pictures
  • A round table offers the same amount of usable table space as a similar-sized rectangular one but has a smaller footprint

The new series of Queer Eye is on Netflix. To check out Bobby’s work visit bobbyberk.com and to see his new range for A.R.T. Furniture, go to arthomefurnishings.com

Try these for size

Make your pad feel palatial with Bobby Berk’s space-saving solutions

Shelving, £122, stringfurniture.com

Paper vase, around £17, octaevo.com

Hanging baskets, £129, nunido.co.uk

Furniture set, £95, habitat.co.uk

Unit, £195, ikea.com

Sofa, £899, snugshack.co.uk

Bed, £649, made.com

Chair, £574, aram.co.uk

Shelving, £110, designvintage.co.uk

Ladder desk with shelves, £250, habitat.co.uk

Mirror, £379, heals.com

Tin boxes, £29.95 for three, hurnandhurn.com

Cube, £39, dunelm.com

Dining bench set, £349, made.com