Oct 11, 2012

Small spaces need big design ideas.

Whether your small space is a bedroom, apartment, or home, thinking through what you're going to do to a space is smart for the long run.

One wall of shelves adds storage and opens the floor space.
1) Raise the heights of storage. Keep things off the floor and taller to make a small room appear larger. Use bookcases that span the entire floor-to-ceiling distance.  Can you run shelving over the doorways and around windows? Dedicating one wall to bookshelves that takes advantage of every inch, will make a room look bigger and eliminates a feeling of clutter. Close off a few shelves with doors.  Stack file cabinets or chests (safety first) on top of one another. Left a bed off the floor to add storage drawers, and if the ceiling is high enough, perhaps a space for a desk, lounge area or reading nook.

Loveseats make a narrow apartment comfy but not crowded

2) Use furniture wisely and make every piece count.  For a small living room use a backless chaise or daybed to divide the adjoining space or functional area; it can be used to separate the kitchen area, the entry, or even a desk and shelf. Downscale your seating and even tables so you have comfort and function but retain an open feel. Try using a storage bench instead of dining or desk chairs to serve a dual purpose. Open backed shelves make great room dividers but look nice from either side. If you need more storage and don't want particle board furniture, re-purpose old wooden dresser found in a second-hand shop, paint it and swap hardware and use it for dishes, pots and pans, a sink stand, a toy chest....be creative. You can re-configure drawers to create one deep one, and even add a hutch-type shelf on top for more storage and to change its appearance even more.

3) Keep it light. While you don't have to use white paint, a lighter color background (floors, walls and even shelving) will help make a small room feel more open. Monochromatic color schemes are great for small spaces since they blur the boundaries between walls an even pieces of furniture to make a space feel expansive. Don't hide windows, rather make them appear larger by placing window coverings above or to the sides. Position a mirror to capture light and reflect it back into the space.

4) Take it off.  If you can remove doors to rooms that don't need privacy...do.  Opening a small bedroom to a hallway makes the room seem more connected to the other spaces, may add light, and there are many uses for the doors so they don't need to be stored ( a desk top, a panel for an appliance, a new back to a bookshelf).  Hanging a curtain or beads on closets can make them more accessible, eliminates a door swing into a small space, and creates a design focal point. 

5) Glass is your friend. Need a privacy divider but it blocks light? Tempered glass walls and door inserts allow light to pass through rooms but create privacy. New resin and plastic products with designs are available and safe. Can't do a whole wall? Create an interior 'window' or transom to allow light in.  Glass tabletops help a room feel more open than wooden tops.