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Maximize your Small Space

If there’s one thing small spaces aren’t short on, it’s challenges.

As a lover of beautiful things that also aspires for a relatively simple lifestyle, I’m often drawn to both sides of the spectrum. In design we never have enough space and in life we often have too many things.

Whether there’s a room in your house that never seems to work, you’re downsizing or making the most of a small condo in the city, here are a few tips to help you fall in love with your small space all over again:

Zones – Step one when planning a space – regardless of size – is to define its zones. I always account for transition/traffic areas and consider the many functions or tasks the homeowner requires before deciding where and how they’ll perform them.

Storage – When it comes to organization there’s no point storing things we don’t need or want. One of the nicest things about small spaces is that they force us to edit our lives more often.

After you’ve taken time to de-clutter your home, re-evaluate your space and determine how and where you want to store the remaining items. You may want to invest in a few storage containers or even a new piece of furniture.

Tucking away most things, but not all, helps give the illusion of a bigger space without coming across as overly stark or uninviting.

Wall Space – Bookcases and shelves (whether for books, baskets or personal items) are a must in a small space. They help leverage walls and ceiling height – both of which are often underutilized.

For an organized look I recommend grouping similar items together and tucking unsightly items away in baskets or other aesthetically pleasing storage options. If you’re unsure how to display everything think in terms of odd numbers and varying heights. For a more contemporary look consider grouping by colour – especially when organizing books.

Furniture – Many people feel that small spaces demand small furniture but I wholeheartedly disagree. When it comes to planning a small space, it’s always best to use regular sized furniture – just less of it. Choose your pieces carefully. They should be practical and beautiful from all angles – especially if they’re helping divide the space into its different zones and functional areas.

Convertible furniture can be helpful as well but often comes with a steep price tag. Unless you’re planning to stay in your small space forever, I wouldn’t recommend investing in high-end convertible furniture like murphy beds, console/dining tables etc. and the lower end options rarely hold up.

Custom furniture is another great option for small spaces. It can be a bit more expensive as well but necessary if it makes your space function for however long you’re in it. Think narrower but not smaller when it comes to custom desks, sofas and armchairs. If you’re struggling for more space in your dining or kitchen area, I love incorporating custom banquets. They’re an excellent way to ensure as much seating as possible. The higher the table, the higher the seating and narrower the depth required allowing you to take up even less valuable floor space.

Colour – The smaller the space, the fewer the opportunities to inject your personality and create visual interest. I’m a big fan of using large, oversized, colourful artwork in a small space. You’ll most likely only have room for one or two pieces so why not invest in something you love that’s sure to work just as well in your next home?

Closets – If you’re lucky enough to have a decent sized closet in your space, think of it as another zone. Closets are a great way to hide extra storage like dressers. They’re also an excellent way to hide a home office. Choose your dinning or occasional chairs wisely so they double as extra seating for your clever and functional workspace.

Décor – Use your furniture and décor to separate zones within your small space. Area rugs, decorative screens, bookcases and even artwork all help divvy up your home both visually and functionally.

Lighting – Often neglected but just as important to a small space as any other. Think in terms of layers (natural, accent, ambient, task and decorative) as well as levels (low, mid, high) to ensure a visually interesting, practical well-lit space. When planned properly lighting hides all sorts of sins including those common to a small space.

Don’t forget to mix materials and textures. Lucite or glass objects are a great option, as are lacquer, marble and any other surface that helps reflect light.

I hope these tips help you embrace your small space and enjoy its many benefits.

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