Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Small is back-- now how to do it...

I guess it's not really breaking news that people's dwellings are getting smaller these days, and often by choice. There is a lot to be said for living in a space that forces you to really questions if you need this, or if you need that. Once you get the knack of only bringing necessities or items of sentimental value into your home - it becomes liberating, and you end up saving time because you know longer have to organize, search through, or clean all of that stuff!

Here's an article with some potentially helpful tips, from About:

...no matter what your reason for living in a small space, you'll undoubtedly have to make some compromises in your decorating, get really organized, and make some adjustments to your lifestyle in order to make everything fit and not feel cramped.

If you're looking for a cozy, intimate space, you're in luck. By using soft, snuggly upholstered pieces, dark, warm tones, and dramatic lighting, your tiny corner can become a wonderful private space.

But if you really feel the need to stretch out in your small space, you can make some decorating changes to make the area look and feel larger without moving any walls! With color, furniture arranging, and interesting lighting, your space won't feel so cramped.

See if some of our tips will work for your small space.

Clear Out the Clutter
There's nothing that makes a small space feel cramped more than having too much stuff. Work out ways to get collections out of view, organized behind doors, table skirts, or on shelves. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space that is in view will feel orderly and open.

Open the Way
With furniture and accessories blocking the view into a room and out to open spaces, a room will look cramped. By moving furniture out and away from walkways, you'll open up the space and make it feel larger. You can also choose short pieces of furniture like an ottoman, an armless, open chair, or a low table, and place large, tall pieces along a wall rather than out in the open space. If you can see the floor, the room will look larger.

Chooser Soft, Light Hues
Whereas dark, warm colors make a space feel cozy and intimate, light, cool colors make a space feel open and airy. For optimum effect, select soft tones of blues and greens.

Use a Monochromatic Color Scheme
Choose colors that are in the same color family and use tone-on-tone woven upholstery fabrics, textured wall finishes, delicate tonal drapery fabrics. Cool colors and delicate warm colors on most surfaces give the room a more open look.

Coordinate Wall and Furniture Colors Contrasting colors tend to break up a space. Pieces of furniture are less interrupting and tend to blend with the space if they're colored to match the wall color.

Let in the Light
Any room will look larger if it's well-lit, either by natural light or artificial lighting. Get rid of heavy draperies and open up the windows to let the light of the outdoors into the space. Add more lamps or install track lighting or recessed lighting. (I've found that ample lighting REALLY helps!)

See-Through Space
By using materials that you can see through, anything beyond will appear farther away. For a tiny bathroom, I got rid of an opaque glass shower enclosure and substituted a clear, frameless one. The room is the same size looks bigger. Now we can see all the way (an extra 3 feet) to the wall at the back of the shower. You can also use glass or lucite for tabletops. With a sturdy base of wood, stone, or metal, the space around the table will open up the view beyond.

Reflective Surfaces
You might not like the look of a mirrored wall, but you have to admit that it always makes a room look larger. Instead, use a large framed mirror on a wall or stand an over-sized framed mirror against a wall. You'll get the same room-enlarging effect as a mirrored wall, but with more style. The space and the light will be reflected for a more open feeling. Top a coffee table or side table with a piece of beveled plate mirror or have a chest of drawers or bureau covered with custom-cut and installed mirrors.

Believe It or Not, Bigger Is Better!
Use a few large, simple pieces of furniture or accessories in place of several smaller pieces which would make a small space look cluttered. With open space and large blocks of color, the room will appear to be more calm and comfortable.

Keep the Upholstery Plain
Select plain colored upholstery for furniture instead of bold plaids, stripes, or prints. Use texture for interest and stick to neutral tones if you can.

Airy, Light Fabrics
Sheer fabrics allow light to pass through window treatments, bed skirts, table covers, and furniture slipcovers. If you want something other than plain colors, find soft floral vines or simple stripes to keep the look simple.

The above are all good examples of monochromatic palettes...

small is cozy!

All these above images are the homes of Apartment Therapy readers, so being "real spaces," I thought they'd be especially inspiring.

via Apartment Therapy

curtained bookcases hide clutter

via BHG

So, while not all of these tips will work for you, and you may chose to deviate - they serve as good foundation points to keep in mind. What has worked for you - any great ideas to share? What hasn't worked?


PixiePirate said...

EXCELLENT post! Thank you so much for the tips! :)

Biba said...

Love your blog! Only just discovered it, you've really hit the spot for me with small homes and decluttering!

Have saved you to my blog bubble and will be back :)

Christy Wagner said...

LOVE the framed TV!!!!!!!! Smaller home = less to clean!

My Notting Hill said...

Creative post!! Love all the pics to illustrate it.

home before dark said...

We're empty nesters and the whole house is our suite of rooms so we decided to use the smallest bedroom to actually sleep in. No tv, no computers, just a restful retreat. The bed left little room for end tables (lamps for reading a must) and the height of mattresses/beds made it difficult to get small table high enough. I ended up using two Ballard Designs barstools, not unlike the white one posted. With adjustable height lamps, a compromise was made. Great post. Some of the best ideas are from those who are forced to be creative with space. Thanks!

TheDecoDetective said...

You're so right about the being forced to declutter part! I "lost" ten square meters - approx. one bedroom - when moving into my current apartment. It made me reconsider all my personal belongings, and I gave a lot to the Salvation Army shops and feel so much better now. Just the thought of all the stuff you own can become a big burden. And as Christy says: smaller home = less to clean! (if you do the decluttering right, that is. If not, there are going to be things to clean just about everywhere)
Thanks also for the great advise about colour in small spaces!

alice said...

Working on large homes is what provides me with a living, however I can't comprehend how little my clients will actually use some of their rooms! I think some of them feel that way after moving in as well!

soapdeli said...

Wonderful tips! Thanks so much!

Joe Aldeguer said...

Love your blog! The ideas are so great spcially the part you hid the books with the curtains. great job.

MissKarenAshley said...

I love all of those pictures. What a great post. Very inspiring!


Down Comforter said...

Some really useful tips & photos. Using vertical space is also essential, as featured in some of the pics.

Lima said...

Your blog is awesome! Been checking it for a while now.

But that one picture with the stacked books on either side... way to say 'I never read these.'


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