Home
 
Choose Your City
Change City

Erin Gates' 'Elements of Style' is your new decor bible

Erin Gates’ new design book does more than look pretty on your coffee table.

HOM_Erin Gates (3c_15 Erin Gates
Credit: Sarah Winchest

Flip through the pages of interior designer Erin Gates’ fun and informative new book “Elements of Style: Designing a Home and Life” and you’ll feel like you’re stepping into her new house. Gates, 32, created the decorating tome while moving from her hip (yet overpriced) Boston rental to owning a grown-up home in the suburbs. She documents the process and offers plenty of design advice — like what’s on her popular blog — in this chic addition to your coffee table.

HOM_Living Room_15 Go for a full-size sofa says Gates. Friends and pets will thank you.
Credit: Provided

Live large
“Lots of tiny furniture can make a space feel super crowded,” says Gates. She recommends decorating with a few larger pieces like a regular sofa instead of a love seat or a full-size armchair instead of something dainty.

HOM_elements_mirror_1015 Mirrored furniture is another great option for small spaces. /Provided

Mirror are your best friend
“Mirrors add light and are a great way to trick the eye,” says Gates, who recently used them to brighten up her dark dining room. “I got three paneled French-style mirrors and positioned them on the wall across from the window,” she explains. “So it now looks like I have two windows.”

HOM_LayerRugs_15 “If you have a small rug that you love, layer it over a jute rug," says Gates. This helps with Moroccan and Oriental rugs, which are expensive. Credit: Provided

(Rug) size matters
Nothing makes a room look smaller than the “dreaded rug island” says Gates. “That’s when people place a tiny rug under their coffee table and no furniture touches it.” For small spaces, the designer recommends getting the biggest rug possible. As a general rule, she says to go for a rug that comes within five inches of the edge of the wall on each side.“It makes a room seem bigger, because your eye gets tricked with this nice wide expanse of material.”

HOM_Entryway_15 Gates found a vintage horse head rack for her entryway.
Credit: Provided

Create an entryway
“First figure our what you need from the space,” advises Gates. “Is it that you need a place to drop keys and mail? Then find a tiny console, find a basket.” The key to decorating this tiny, but essential, nook in your home is finding things that are attractive — but also functional. “It can’t be just pretty and it can’t be just functional, cause then you’re kinda depressed when you come home,” says Gates. She recommends searching Etsy and eBay for items like statement- making hooks.

HOM_Elements of Style cover_3c_15

Party tips
With the holidays coming up, hosting a party at your apartment is inevitable. Here’s what to do when you don’t have the square footage for a sit-down dinner.

K.I.S.
“With smaller spaces, keeping it simple is super important,” stresses the designer. One way is to serve a limited bar: “Have wine — a red [and] white — and one specialty cocktail. Don’t try to make everyone a different drink.”

Embrace a buffet
If you don’t have a dining table that fits a bunch of people set up a buffet, says Gates. This can still be cute. Her suggestion: Start by picking up affordable trays at a discount store like Target. Arrange place settings on each tray and let people spread out where there’s room.

Lighting is key
Arrange a bunch of votives and candles “so your tiny place feels — as real estate agents like to say — cozy instead of small,” says Gates.

Consider AlsoFurther Articles