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  • Writer's pictureKatie Unicorn

How to design a sunlit nook

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Create layers of whimsy by adding depth to your décor

Corner in Katie Unicorn's home in Dallas with plants and pots

No one ever said that small spaces couldn’t be beautiful, functional, and stylish. It can be challenging to decorate these small spaces, but with a bit of creative design, you can unlock whimsy in any sunlit nook.

If you want to make the most of your tiny home or apartment, we’ll show you how to design small spaces that are attractive and joyful. Keep reading for inspiration!

Decorating your small sunlit nook

There are a few things to keep in mind when decorating small, sunlit spaces. First, consider the function of the space. Is it a reading nook? A place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee? A spot to relax after a long day? Once you know how you want to use the space, you can start thinking about furniture and decor.

In a small, sunlit space, less is often more. A single armchair or small loveseat can be cozy and inviting. A few well-chosen art pieces or a simple vase of flowers can add personality without overwhelming the space. Keep window treatments simple, too – light, airy curtains or shades will let in the sunshine without making the space feel cramped.

Color is also essential in small, sunlit spaces. Softer, lighter hues will help make the space feel bigger and brighter. But don’t be afraid to experiment – a pop of bold color can add interest and personality to a small space.

Remember that sunlight can change the feel of space throughout the day. If you’re using the space in the morning, you might want to orient the furniture to make the most of the sunlight. You might want to add lamps or candles to create a cozy, intimate atmosphere in the evening.

With a little bit of thought, small, sunlit spaces can be some of the most inviting in your home. Read on for step-by-step instructions to add a touch of whimsy to those sunlit nooks!

1. Add layers of different materials, sizes, and colors

Before/after shot of Katie Unicorn's nook

What do you see in this small space before/after photo? Can you spot the variety of materials and colors, sizes and shapes that make it an interesting focal point?

One way to add depth to a small space is by layering different materials, sizes, and colors. By carefully considering how you layer different elements, you can create the illusion of a much larger and more expansive space.

For example, you could layer a small rug on top of a larger one or use smaller pieces of furniture in front of taller ones. You can also play with different colors and patterns to create a more exciting and dynamic look.

2. Creatively add plants to beautify your nook

A plant in a white pot in Katie Unicorn's corner

Using plants is an excellent way to liven up your small space. You can add layers to your design by adding plants at different heights. This instantly makes a small space more attractive and dimensional.

For example, you could place a potted plant on the ground, followed by a taller plant on a table or shelf. This will create a layered look that adds depth and visual interest to your space.

There are many types of plants available, so experiment with different varieties to see what thrives in your unique space. The varying colors and textures of the plants also offer an opportunity to add some visual interest and variety to a passive space.

For example, if you have a small balcony, you could consider using potted plants to create a green oasis. Using a mix of different plant types, sizes, and colors can really help to brighten up the space and make it feel more inviting.

If you’re not sure where to start, why not visit your local nursery or garden center for some inspiration? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Plant colorful annuals in pots or window boxes for a splash of color.

  • Group together plants with similar colors or textures for a cohesive look.

  • Use taller plants as focal points and fill in around them with lower-growing varieties.

  • Consider adding some herbs or succulents for a unique twist.

With a little creativity, you can transform your small space into a verdant oasis that reflects your style.

3. Use pottery to add beauty and whimsy

Succulents in an orange pot and a metal pot in Katie Unicorn's home

The accent colors in this example include a mix of warm vibrant colors like orange, yellow, and terra cotta paired with neutrals in grays and cream. The antique orange stool, which I found at an estate sale I was exploring one random afternoon, serves as the focal point, adding height to the overall arrangement, and provides a unique solution for a plant stand.

Color is one of the most important factors to consider when decorating with pottery. A contrast of bright colors against neutrals can give your space a playful yet sophisticated feel. Or, if you want something more calming and serene, stick to a monochromatic palette.

When it comes to shapes, there are endless possibilities. You can go for a more organic look by opting for free-flowing forms or keeping things clean and modern with geometric shapes. And don’t forget about scale! Mixing different-sized pieces will add visual interest and depth to your display.

4. Personalize with customized pots and small figurines

Succulents in four tiny pots on the windowsill of Katie Unicorn's home

Pots and small figurines custom-made for your interests can personalize your living space and make it more reflective of your unique interests. There are pots and figurines for just about every interest and taste, so you’re sure to find some that fit your style.

Here are two small pots of a cat and a unicorn. These are the spirit animals of Katie Unicorn. What are your spirit animals? Consider incorporating pots or small figurines of what represents your unique interests or what calls out to you. This is what unlocks the whimsy of the design.

Baby succulent in a small porcelain cat pot in Katie Unicorn's home

Are you an animal lover? Try using figurines of cats, dogs, birds, and even reptiles – whatever brings you joy. For a more whimsical look, try incorporating some fantasy-themed figurines, such as unicorns or dragons.

If you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated, figurines depicting scenes from classic literature or mythology can add a touch of class. And if you’re interested in historical figures, there are plenty to choose from as well.

Alternatively, if you have any particularly beloved hobbies or activities, try to find some decorative items that represent those interests. By taking the time to incorporate these things into your decor, you can help make your home feel like a genuinely personal refuge.

Collect objects over time to beautify your space

“Found objects” can give your space a sense of history and story. Searching for the perfect items to fit your aesthetic can be really fun, and you’ll likely find that the hunt is half the fun. You can even get creative and repurpose some existing items you already have. The key is to make sure that the final design feels uniquely yours.

Get more DIY tips from Katie Unicorn

Check out @katieunicornofficial on Instagram for more do-it-yourself tips for small space design in your home and garden. If you are in the Dallas area, you can hire Katie Unicorn to help you design your home and garden. From furniture arrangement to storage ideas, we’ve got you covered. So, get creative, make the most of your small space, and bring more whimsy into your life.


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