Image by Architecture Architecture via Houzz
Whether some of us choose to live in close quarters or do so out of necessity, we’ve probably all experienced the drawbacks of living small. Even big retailers like Room & Board, CB2, and Restoration Hardware recognize that folks are downsizing, and have begun concentrating on smaller scale furniture lines. From NYC’s micro-apartments to cramped college dorm rooms and those impressive tiny houses of the Midwest, each one benefits from trimming the fat via smart storage solutions and more than a bit of creative thinking. Looking for ways you can maximize space when you don’t have much to begin with? Read on for 8 great ways to make any tiny space feel a whole lot larger.
Image by Holly Marder via Houzz
Room dividers are a nice way to add a layer of privacy inside, say, a studio apartment. But by carving out spaces inside rooms and creating zones (think: eating area within a kitchen, office nook in a living area) you’ll not only maximize usable space, but will also improve a home’s livability. Strategic shelving, too, affords the same privacy––along with much needed storage.
James Thomas Interiors via Houzz
Darker colors, especially black, absorb light––but sometimes, painting a small room a deep, saturated color creates the opposite effect: it can make the room seem bigger. Why? Darker colors are more dramatic, tend to mask flaws, and trick the eye into missing the structured lines that create the room itself, whether wall or ceiling lines. If your space has only one tiny window, or no windows at all, it is true that darker hues absorb daylight and electric light. It’s best to provide ample lighting with floor and ceiling lamps, and to create a layered lighting effect. But if you have high ceilings and clean-lined furnishings, whiter and lighter colors are great go-tos, too. When choosing darker colors, avoid reds and greens (too confining) and instead, opt for navy blues, grays, blacks, and browns.
Image by Caren Alpert via Coddington Design and Houzz
Go simple, and opt for transparency
To give the illusion of a larger room, floors should be kept clear, save for the odd plant or bookcase. Avoid ornate, overstuffed furniture that sits flush on the floor without any visual space underneath. Longer, exposed legs (or even shorter ones) on furniture create a sense of height and grandeur, and allow light to filter beneath the piece. Likewise, go with a transparent glass-topped coffee or dining table: clear glass always makes rooms seem more spacious, as visually, the eye is tricked into seeing only the table’s base. Opaque wood and metal surfaces command too much visual space.
Accessorize with caution
While upholstery incorporating a large-scale pattern is fun and playful, it can add visual noise. Dead set on a big pattern? Consider using it in your window treatments––and only those. (And don’t forget to hang curtains just below the ceiling, above windows, to draw the eye upward in rooms with short ceilings.) Create the illusion of a bigger room by using textured, solid textiles and choose accents like bold throw pillows or a fun table runner.
Install strategically placed mirrors––they’ll add depth to the room, reflecting light to make any room seem brighter and more spacious. Have access to natural light? Use it to your advantage by positioning a mirror on a window’s opposite wall.
Image by Susan Gilmore via Andrew Flesher Interiors and About.com Interior Design
Choose appropriate lighting
Dim lighting may be more intimate, but it won’t do anything to make a room seem larger. An oversized light hung flush with the ceiling—not hanging down—illuminates a small space in all the right areas. Position accent lights, like table and floor lamps, and be sure to layer your lighting in the room. Layering lighting means to control the intensity and beams of light shone in the space to achieve added depth and dimension.
Image by Rob Karosis Photography via Patty Kennedy Interiors and Houzz
Stow any collections inside a shelf or atop a cabinet; an overflow of knickknacks peppered about a room eats up space. By storing vertically, you can take advantage of un- and underutilized wall space. Foldout furniture keeps floors clear and can provide a useable work surface only when you need it. Consider pairing like items with like items, and avoid the urge to display everything at once. Hanging pots and pans, for example, rather than keeping them in drawers or cabinets frees up space for unwieldy kitchen tools that can clutter countertops.
Consider double-duty furniture
You’ll find stacked storage cubes and multipurpose furniture everywhere, especially as back to school sales start up. From murphy beds to storage ottomans and expanding dining tables, you can maximize space by minimizing the furniture you have. Furnish your small space with objects that double as storage, like a bed with drawers set into its base, or consider using bed risers for ample under-bed storage. Platform beds, too, are useful, especially those high up enough to house a desk or sitting area down below. Planning on hosting guests but don’t have a guest room? Invest in a living room armchair that folds out into a twin-size sleeper.
Image by Alek Lisefski via Houzz
Even just these 8 tips and tricks—used by designers and stylists alike—will have you thinking outside that (little) box in no time. Yes, living small is super-big lately––but as we hope you can see here, there’s really no reason you can’t live large by maximizing what little space you happen to be stuck with.