Decorating little areas doesn’t mean you have to limit creativity. Learn how tiny touches go a long way in giving your nook the right look

This week, I’ll show you two completely different small spaces that got a little attention to create a lot of attention.

Your front entry sets the stage for the style and feel of your house, as well as for your personality to shine. This one, in the home of a client who loves island style, but with a modern sensibility, had a niche that was waiting for a professional touch. But what exactly would that be?


We commissioned two pieces by local artist and glass blower Al Ness. Not only do they fill the space without crowding it, they bring in clean, modern lines and an organic flow. The billowing ribbons beckon you toward the living room and create an edgy feel. The warmth of the amber glass ties in with the rich hardwood floors.

Finally, to make the artwork pop, we painted the back wall a neutral taupe, a color that ties in with the living room. Clean, modern and edgy — the style in the foyer sets the tone for the rest of the house.

The second space is a hallway, an often forgotten space that most people wouldn’t think to accessorize. But just a few touches can make a big difference.

This hallway is in an island beach home. It opens up to a laundry room, shower area and beach bathroom. The photo is off the kitchen and leads out to the beach. We put in a runner to wipe off your feet, a hamper and a cute wall plaque.

On the opposite wall hangs a picture of a boat dock and the horizon beyond. These elements are not only decorative, they also serve dual purposes. The picture covers an electrical panel and can be easily removed for access. The hamper hides a spigot to wash your feet, and the rug sits over a drain in the floor.


This is a space that could easily have been overlooked, but the addition of a few affordable pieces and the choice of colors and textures — the modern jute rug, woven-reed hamper, dark hues and lighter organic tones of the hallway, echoed in the bathroom towels — bring everything together.

Neither of these small spaces needed a giant transformation. What they needed were simple touches and attention to detail, both of which you can add yourself, no matter your budget.

So, look at your space with your designer eye, to see what appropriate sized things you can add that wouldn’t overwhelm it, and that also would tie in with the overall theme of the home. It’s a small effort — but in a small space, it can have a huge impact.

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. reStyle Hawaii, her new-concept furniture and home accents store, is open daily at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit