How to decorate transitional spaces

transitional spaces

Transitional spaces are often the “ugly ducklings” of our homes.

Hard to define and a challenge to decorate, they languish vacant and forgotten. I’ve used transitional spaces in my home to store moving boxes, surplus shoes and unused exercise equipment. There is a better way! So, what exactly is a transitional space? Quite literally, it’s an area of connection—that joins one room to the next.

In this case, it was a space directly off an entryway that links to the dining room, kitchen and outdoor patio. Transitional spaces could also include stairway landing areas, bonus-type rooms and nooks. They lead you from one area to the next, but are much more than a mere hallway.

So, let’s give them some love! 

transitional spacestransitional space

Love Seat (Nearly identical from same brand, mine is out of stock) | Love Seat (Lower Cost) | Sofa Table (Similar)Jute RugJute Rug (Lower Cost) | Louis XV Chair | Louis XV Chair (Lower Cost) | Bamboo Sofa Table (Similar) | Mercury Glass Lamps (Similar) | Faux Potted Tree (Similar)

Step 1: Consider your lifestyle

Think carefully about how you currently live and how you might use the space to better fit your needs. Is there way to make it more functional? To craft a transitional space you will actually use?

In our case, we wanted an inviting and cozy sitting area. Our family loves to read and gather for conversation over coffee or a glass of wine. So, this space was designed with comfort in mind. It’s a great alternative to the living room where the TV is located. Other ideas for transitional space use include:

  • A children’s play area
  • A mini home gym
  • Writing desk/command station
  • Reading nook

Step 2: Plan it out/Assess your space

Once you have a function in mind, it’s time to get your measurements and figure out how much space you have to play with. This is critical for transitional rooms because they are usually quite limited in size.

Next, walk the room and begin to visualize your potential layout. Don’t be afraid to sketch it out on paper. If you have pieces of furniture in mind, draft a variety of floor plans using those items and make note of the pieces you still need.

Make sure you have a maximum and minimum measurement for each piece before you go shopping.

We knew we needed two small scale love seats, no more than 65″ wide. In addition, we were hunting for a chair with an ottoman that could double as a coffee table. Movable, dual purpose furniture is very helpful in transitional spaces. We also needed petite drink tables and some decorative plants.

room sketch

Step 3: Lighten & Brighten

Now, it’s time to bring in your major furniture pieces and adjust your layout as needed. Use your plan as a guide, but don’t be glued to it if something feels “off.” When working with small spaces, you need to be wary of furniture that overwhelms the room or colors that weigh it down.

beforeHere’s a look at the space before. Can you see how the dark colors and wood give it a more cramped, heavy feel?

By swapping out the ornate furniture for brighter pieces with simple lines, we made the space feel much larger.

In addition, we utilized glass tables with delicate metal legs, rather than heavy wood and stone pieces.

afterThe detailed carpet was abandoned for a coastal-inspired jute rug and the window treatment was simplified too. Instead of something custom, we purchased inexpensive sheer panels from JC Penney and hung them right below the crown molding. This gives the illusion of more height.

Finally, we finished off the room with a set of neutral prints. I gravitate toward anything involving classic art or architecture for my walls. If you have trouble finding prints you love at a store, try browsing the art history section of a used bookstore. Sometimes you can find hidden treasures to mat and frame in an old text or coffee table book. Another great place to look is an antique store. As the proprietor if he or she has any architectural prints. They look incredible framed!

A pair of mercury glass lamps, decorative metal shells, a sofa table (similar) and faux trees rounded out our design choices. Now, we have a room that is not only functional—it’s a family favorite!

Key Pieces for Transitional Rooms

I’ve included options in a variety of sizes (including super tiny for apartments), price points and styles! 

Love Seats

Comfy Chairs


Do you have a challenging space in your home? What room do you find yourself decorating last? I’d love to hear your stories! Please comment below.


  1. Annemarie LeBlanc | 21st Apr 18

    Awesome. You have given me an idea of what to do with that space between our living room and the lanai. I will ask my husband what his opinion is about it and if he agrees, we will start working on that space.

  2. Jenna | 21st Apr 18

    this is so helpful for those hard-to-decorate spots!! We had one when we moved in to our current home!

  3. Pat | 21st Apr 18

    You’ve given us some excellent ideas on how to deal with hard-to-decorate spots in homes. Thanks.

  4. Elizabeth O | 21st Apr 18

    This post it really helpful, it can be really difficult to decorate spaces such as these so your tips are so handy and will help a lot of people out.

  5. Up Run for Life Healthy Lifestyle Blog | 21st Apr 18

    I love your new living room design. My poor house has always had a hodgepodge of furniture. We rarely use the living room so I hate to spend a ton of money on it.

  6. Marissa Zurfluh | 21st Apr 18

    These are some really awesome tips! Some of these locals can be pretty awkward!

  7. Vanessa Delia | 21st Apr 18

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been looking to do something different in some of my spots.

  8. Holly | 21st Apr 18

    These are great ideas. Sometimes these spaces are so hard to find the right fit. That is so helpful.

  9. Ashley | 22nd Apr 18

    I love the pictures you have on the wall! My husband would never go for something like that but it’s a really pretty look. Our biggest issue is that our transitional spaces are so narrow it’s hard to put much of anything in there. 🙁

  10. Jennifer | 22nd Apr 18

    Chairs and ottomans make such great transitional pieces. The new look and color palette are oh so pretty!

  11. Janella Panchamsingh | 22nd Apr 18

    you have just given me so many ideas for my transitional space in my back room I was always think about

  12. Esme Sy | 23rd Apr 18

    I don’t know what makes the overall design so comfortable when I’m not even a fan of the furniture themselves. That’s one big success I guess. For me, I start out with walking space and calculate from there. I can learn a few things from here, beautiful.

  13. Miljana | 30th Apr 18

    Great job! I wish you could come to my place and help a bit!

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