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Using a Small Living Space to its Best Advantage

With the popularity of Tiny Homes on the rise, the buzz in architectural circles is “small is beautiful.” Quality does not mean bigger is better. (1) Smart design choices for small spaces reflect ingenuity and provide comfort. They are energy-efficient, eco-friendly, and economical. Limited square footage is taking interior design to new heights.

So, take heart! If you’re living in a home, apartment or condo with small rooms or limited storage—listen up! Small living is a state of mind! There’s plenty of room wherever you live if you make thoughtful choices about what you do with what you’ve got!

Here’s how!

Surround Yourself with What You Love.

Organizational expert Marie Kondo can tell you everything you need to know about decluttering. But the best reason to toss out what no longer serves you and organize what does is that when you surround yourself with what is meaningful to you—what you love—you don’t feel deprived or limited by the space you’re in. Small becomes beautiful.

This is also true about what you bring into your living space. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it!

Paint Your Walls White

Keep your space from feeling closed in by painting walls and floors white. This brightens the entire living space, reflects light from windows and lighting fixtures, and creates the illusion of space.

Speaking of light! 

Accentuate your living space by bringing daylight into every room. Choose sheer window coverings of loosely woven fabrics or window shades. Curtains that cover half the window provide privacy and add character. Easy visual access to the outdoors expands the perception and feel of indoor living space.

Perception is everything!

Even if you have a small balcony or patio, bring the outside in and the inside out. A large mirror hungopposite a window also creates the feeling of more space.

Mounting lights on walls and suspending them from the ceiling maximizes floor space. Spotlight a painting to create an eye-stopping focal point that lifts the gaze above ground level.

Anchor your space with rugs

A single, large rug makes any room feel bigger because it doesn't visually break up your floor into bite-size pieces. If your rug is bold, consider making it your design focal point. If your rug is neutral make a colorful piece of furniture or a show-stopping painting your focal point.

Or… several small rugs create boundaries that delineate function, that say, “This is my work or dining space; this is my living area.” If you go this route, keep your rugs neutral and make something else your design focal point.

In the Living Room…

Create intimate conversational groupings by keeping your chairs and couch (or a loveseat) together.

If you’re short on seating, a sofa with corner seating makes good use of normally empty space, or use an ottoman as a coffee table that doubles as extra seating when company comes. Short on sleeping space? Consider a stylish sleeper sofa.

If storage space is limited, toss a tableskirt over a table and use the space under the skirt for storage. Or attach table legs to an old suitcase for an interesting side table and use the suitcase for storage. Wicker chests and old steamer trunks double as coffee tables and storage bins.

In the Dining Room…

Choosing furniture to scale is important in every room of a small living space, but nowhere more important than in the dining area room. Round or oval tables make it easier to move in and out of a small dining area. A pedestal base provides more legroom beneath your table.

A (drop leaf or otherwise) table against the wall, with a bench for company seating, maximizes floor space. No-frills chairs take less space. A corner banquette provides plentiful seating and drawers along the bottom add storage.

In the Bedroom…

Shelves behind the bed make an attractive and functional headboard, and a small desk placed at the foot of the bed works well as a footboard.

Storage? Elevate your bed and store off-season clothes in plastic bins beneath the bed. Hang coat racks on the wall behind the bedroom door and a hanging hamper on the bathroom door. 

Living with less does not mean ”living without.” It can take you to new heights by providing valuable insight into what you need and what you can do without!