Bathroom, Bedroom, DIY, Downsizing, Kitchen, Lifestyle, Living Room, Universal Design

5 tips to Upsize your Downsized home with Marianne Shillingford

July 13, 2016

Downsizing: you’re thinking of it, you’ve done it but how can you maximise your minimal space?

I spoke to Marianne Shillingford from Dulux about this – she has so much experience and love of colour and she explained to me that you can trick the eye and senses and make interiors feel more spacious and welcoming. I love colour but when it comes to decorating I’m so unadventurous- I keep reaching for the magnolia…everywhere! Marianne however, has some brilliant tips and insight to share with us, so here they are


Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Marianne Shillingford Creative Director of Dulux and Design Director of the Dulux Design Service

Tip 1: Creating a guest room/ home office combo

Whilst it may seem difficult to catch the balance between creating a productive home office and cosy guest bedroom it is important to remember that both spaces should encourage serenity.


To make the space feel larger, use pastel shades which reflect natural light. This year’s distinctive pastels contain just enough colour and a hint of grey to give them a sophisticated edge without making them look cold which make them brilliant for creating a clean yet cosy look – perfect for study or relaxation. You can bring all rooms painted in pastel shades to life with layered lighting like table and floor lamps too.


Consider how a room feels as well as it looks and use bedding, cushions, throws and rugs which feel amazing against the skin.  Add some fun and personality in the form letters and numbers to reflect a current trend that has a timeless feel.

Tip 2: How to make the most of a small master bedroom

When downsizing we often have to compromise on bedroom space, however there are a number of tricks you can use to make that space feel bigger.

When you paint a small room you have to make the most of every ounce of light by amplifying, bouncing and reflecting it.  Where natural light enters the room, paint the surfaces it hits with pure white or very pale cool shades which will reflect light further into the space. Click here to have a look at the bathroom styled by Catherine Woram which I feature in July.

Adding a bit of technology to your colours can increase that sense of light and space even more.  Dulux Light & Space paint contains Lumitec – which reflects twice as much light as an equivalent standard emulsion.


If you’re sharing the bedroom space then it’s important to make sure the room doesn’t feel too cluttered. Storage is king but as important is a scheme you are both going to love.

And finally in this downsized space, keep pattern to a minimum and use blocks and bands of colour rather than heavy oversized floral wallpaper.

master bedroom

Tip 3: Creating an open plan kitchen / Living Space

Something we need to be wary of when creating open plan spaces is that whilst using whites and neutrals will help the space to feel bigger, they can also make it feel impersonal and unwelcoming.

Use blocks of colour to define different zones in the space – like the cooking, dining and relaxing areas.   It helps to visually organise the space and show off your personality too.

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Define the relaxing areas like the living or dining space from your working kitchen area with colours that enhance a different mood.  String vibrant clean colours create energy and if you love cooking, have fun and add a blast of colour like it were seasoning in food.  Use smokier muted shades for the areas where you want to calm down, chill out and relax.  In these spaces, softer colours with an element of grey work beautifully.  Refine the look by teaming the colours in each zone with a slightly cool off white tone like Chalk Dust.  Paint it on the remaining walls to create balance and add a contemporary crispness to the look.


Use small and often overlooked architectural details to pique interest by painting them in contrasting shades.  For example: the edge of a door, window ledges, the face of a dividing wall, underneath the stairs, in small recesses or the inside of big built in cupboards and furniture .

To keep a sense of unity within the room simply pick up the colours on your walls and use them in other elements like the accessories, artwork and soft furnishings. Just like a great tie, shoes or jewellery, it’s those little details that draw admiring glances and complete the look.

Tip 4: Creating a spa like bathroom on a budget

Painting a small space doesn’t always have to be about maximising its size. To create a sense of luxury on a budget, and a space in which you can truly relax, embrace the dark and consider all over deep rich shades – as close to black as you dare.

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With clever layered lighting, small rooms painted in dark colours become something magical and remove the need to splash out on expensive accessories.  In the dark, our heart beat slows and we begin to properly melt into a pre-sleep state. Small dark spaces in our homes become sanctuaries in which we can truly unwind.  Something it’s worth sacrificing a bit of light for – especially if you have a full on stressful life.  Try colours like: Lights Out, Viridian Tide and Aged Bronze”.



Tip 5: Get inspired and try it out!

If like me you’re a bit nervous about using colour in your new home, Marianne suggests downloading the free Dulux Visualiser App on to your smartphone or tablet and get inspired. With this super easy app, take a photo of one of your favourite things and sample the colour using your phone or tablet’s camera. The app uses virtual reality to show you how that colour would look on your walls.

For more colour and styling inspiration follow me on Instagram @buildmumahouse or click here

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