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Using Your Space: Big Ideas for Small Spaces

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Small spaces can be big on style. You just need to know how to implement some tricks of the trade to give it that look of grandeur.


Older homes can be loaded with detail and charm, but many tend to be quite compartmentalized, with one small room after another. Creating that extra space doesn’t have to be that costly if you creatively repurpose and reconfigure some of those existing rooms to gain that extra square footage—where you really need it.


Here are some great tips for living large in a small space.


Space Planning:


  • Know how your room must function for you now and later. The more flexible the space, the greater the longevity of having it work for you through the years.
  • Plan traffic flow to increase convenience from room to room.
  • Have your spaces relate to each other by creating a sense of flow, visually and spatially.
  • Expand your room by creating an opening in a wall adjoining two spaces or add new and more expansive windows flooding the interior with natural light and inviting the outdoors in.
  • Recognize the circulation patterns within your small space and make sure you can move about without obstacles blocking you.
  • Circulate the traffic off to one side of your room—not through the space.
  • Use every inch of space have—don’t waste any!


Maximize Storage:


  • Use the storage beneath your stairs to build in a closet, shelving unit or bar area.
  • Add recessed shelving and niches anywhere you have ample wall space to do so, always keeping the architecture of your home in mind. Built-in china cabinets in the dining room or a stone ledge over your pedestal sink in the main bath will provide added storage and surfaces for those tighter spaces.
  • Add window seats or banquettes nestled into the corners of your bedrooms, living rooms or kitchens with easily accessible drawers for storage.
  • Use an archway for additional book storage and build in additional shallow floating shelves for added detail and storage.


Add Detail and Character:


  • A small space doesn’t need to be a bland one!
  • Define it by introducing some architectural elements such as arches, columns, new moldings, wainscoting, and even chair rails to your walls, and beams or molding to your ceiling.
  • Adding crown moldings to your ceilings will add a greater sense of volume and depth to your space.
  • Mirrored wall panels framed with architectural moldings will provide a brighter and more expansive feel and create some sparkle.
  • It’s all about creating a warm and beautiful environment, no matter the size of the room.


Minimize and Categorize Accessories:


  • Purchase larger-scaled, more substantial pieces to create a stronger impact in your cozy space rather than displaying dozens of little knickknacks.


  • To really highlight your favorites, gather similar pieces together and cluster them in odd numbers, e.g., sets of three or five, to create a collection. Whether they are placed on side tables or in shelving or display cases, rotate your collections throughout the seasons.
  • To achieve a sense of balance, place the largest piece in the center and have the smaller ones radiate around it.
  • Reframe all your family photos in similar finishes so the photos pop, rather than the frames.


Highlight with Lighting:


  •  Overlapping pools of light can create drama and provide an amazing effect over the entire space.
  • Not only will decorative lamps and wall sconces add a decorative touch to a room, they can enhance the design and provide a sense of sophistication to the elements you’d like to highlight.
  • For general lighting in every room, I like to specify dimmers to control the mood and transform the space.
  • In built-in cabinetry and shelving, small halogen puck lights create a sense of drama and accent accessories.
  • Install your gorgeous dining room chandelier no more than 36” to 42” from the top of your table to the underside of the fixture.

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