When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no added cost to you. Thanks for supporting us and this small business!

How to Decorate a Small Space | Vanlife 

Learning to decorate a small space can make the difference between an area that feels like home versus a place where you keep your stuff.  Living in a small space doesn’t have to be impersonal, despite the idea that minimalism means having very few “things.”

Minimalism is a concept of design that is founded on highlighting the fundamentals of space.  When decorating as a minimalist, we focus on removing non-essential things from the space.  This way, it brings awareness to the essence of the space.  Sometimes that essence can be a piece of art or the architecture of the room, or your personality.

When you live in a small area, the essence we want to capture is something meaningful to you.  It usually becomes a direct reflection of you. Decorating a tiny home means you get a chance to find a few simple, and very impactful, items that reflect your personality and put dazzle in your day.

Clear out CLutter

Although it’s usually applied in a contemporary style, you can utilize the ideas behind minimalism while choosing decor that reflects any style you like.  The key is to keep clutter to a minimum. When you decorate a small space, you start with two or three items that compliment each other. Don’t add more until you know they will work in harmony.  In addition, minimalism is used as a method to bring peace to a place. That tranquility can be overrun very quickly with too much bedazzle and spunk.

Read below for a few great ideas on how to decorate a small space such as a van, RV, School bus, tiny home, or studio apartment.

Make use of Mirrors

Mirrors create an optical illusion and can make a small space feel much larger.  Also, you don’t need huge mirrors to make that happen either. On one hand, you can use a large mirror as a focal point. On the other hand, even a small mirror can bounce light around and create a new depth in a small space.  

Light up Your Life

In a small space like a van or RV, natural light can be hard if you don’t have a lot of windows.  But even if you do have windows, a tiny living area can feel even smaller with dark corners. While ceiling lights are great for seeing what you’re doing, additional lights add ambiance and character.  Reading lights, fairy lights, or salt lamps are examples of great accent lighting. These amplify the definition of space and highlight the different areas of your home. In addition, lights can add a decorative touch and an opportunity to show your personal style with the fixture type that you choose.

Plants that Perfect Your Space

Transform your miniature living space into a slice of heaven with a few pint-sized plants.  Even if they’re fake, it is scientifically proven that having greenery in your home can reduce stress and anxiety.  Placing a few simple plants in strategic locations will energize your modest home. For example, keep one near the bed so that you see it when you wake.  Plants in your kitchen area are a great addition too, as they bring positive energy to your meal preparation and cooking.

In addition, plants bring an outdoorsy vibe to your space.  While most of us live a simple life so that we can be outside more, sometimes we still get cooped up.  House plants make a tiny area feel bigger simply by invoking the thought of being outside.

Decorate with Simplicity and Style 

Choosing a few decorations that are simple and stylish will elevate the serenity of your space. Since some of us are mobile, we don’t have a lot of standstill furniture to set anything on.  But there are a lot of great ways to hang decorations in a van, RV, or school bus, and it keeps clutter to a minimum.

Utilizing your wall space is your opportunity to make the area your own, and reflect your personality.  Keep in mind that a small space can feel cluttered fast. Start with 2 or three things, then add more if you feel like you and your space can handle additional stuff.

Check out the list below for some great ideas to decorate a small space and still maintain a minimalist style. 


This wire grid doesn’t look like much on it’s own, but it provides a stage for you to show off photos of your travels.  Or hang a few little accent pieces with it.  These mount to the wall easily, and can be completely customized by you!


The best part about blankets is that they’re decorative AND functional!  If you invest in a good one, it will last a lifetime. Although they don’t fold down very small when not in use, a good wool blanket makes all the difference during chilly nights.  Any blanket you choose, should go along with the aesthetic of your space and amplify your good mood.

Framed Quote

Having one of your favorite quotes hanging on the wall is a great way to keep your decor simple and uplifting.  Keep these to a minimum though, as they can start to overwhelm the space very quickly if overused. The best bet is to pick your favorite one to start.  If you get tired of it, you can always find a new one and trade them out over time.

Dream Catcher

Dream Catchers are a whimsical way to heighten the serenity of a small space. Traditionally used to protect children while they sleep, they are timeless.  Adding one to your miniature home can invoke a sense of calmness and peace of mind.


Among many other wall decorations, macrame is a style that has been popular for generations.  Not only are there thousands of styles to choose from, but many are simple enough that you can make them yourself.  Macrame tends to be a more feminine style of decor, but it doesn’t have to be if you find the right kind. It’s a simple and elegant decoration that transforms a plain wall into a welcoming, homey space.

There are so many great options that you can use to decorate a small space, we could go on for pages.  But the key is to focus on a few things that work well together and that bring you joy. Keep your space organized and clutter free so that you get energy from the space, rather than it taking energy from you.  The decor you choose should elevate your mood and give you a sense of calm.

Let us know if you like to decorate as a minimalist in the comments below!  We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you decorate in your tiny home!