How To Make Your Small Home work For You

Interior design is not just for clients who own large homes. In our interior design projects, we often meet clients who live in very small spaces, and medium sized homes as well, and the trend is growing. This is not necessarily a bad thing if we analyse the true needs of the client and discover the lifestyle that genuinely suits them. The clients also needs to realize and face the limitations of their space. There is no need to pine for a larger home when it is quite possible to make a small home a palace. Often, a smaller home can be made so pleasant to live in that there is no real need to move up to a larger one. For instance, many people are quite happy with a cozy dining area. This can be accommodated into a small area. A bedroom that is really too small to be a pleasant bedroom can be made into a wonderful dressing room.

small bedroom built as a dressing room with three walls of floor to ceiling closet cabinetry

Seating and storage are key areas that we must deal with. It is wise that seating be transitional in style – not too classic, not too modern. This leaning toward a modern style speaks to cleaner lines and less feeling of clutter and less crowding. A loveseat may work far better than a sofa in a very small space and matching chairs can accommodate a couple of guests very well. It is all to the better if the loveseat can convert into a sofa bed to accommodate a guest comfortably. A storage ottoman is additional seating, as well as seating for a third guest. This is a fabulous space saver and serves triple function as seating, a table of storage of toys, magazines or what have you. It is very important to have furniture which multi-tasks in a small space. Living in a smaller home also tends to limit accumulation of objects that are really not necessary to a good quality of life.

small living room with clean lined media unit and built-in storage in whitesmall living room seating area with fireplace and stone wall mantel

Acquiring too many possessions often detracts from the beauty of the living space and actually adds stress to the occupants of the home.

clutter of family photos on a flat surface 

Often people in smaller homes choose small scale furniture and pale colours , thinking that this will make the space look larger. Actually this generally makes the room look smaller because there is no weight or presence to the room design. A dramatic wall colour or piece of art on one wall can actually make a room appear larger by drawing the eye toward the focal point. A large sofa that makes a statement is much better, as long as the sofa has clean lines and does not have to be crammed into the space. Leaving walking space between furniture pieces gives the impression that there is plenty of space in the room. Also an area rug with dramatic style or colour can anchor the room and give it zing. The room design can be built around these interesting pieces and rather than the final room design being an apology for lack of size, the finished room becomes something to be proud of and a joy to live in.

small contemporary living room with grey sectional sofa, lambskin throw, gold brass accents, and grey area carpet This look versus this look otherwise very nice cluttered living room with exercise bike and items piled on the sofa The room on the right is too small for the sofa, not to mention all of the other objects that it contains. It would be much more suitable for a small table and four dining chairs. Avoid trying to force a room to be something that it is simply too small to be. Quite a bit of storage space can be creatively carved out of wasted space. A bookshelf built into a door can house a lot of books.

closet door with a bookcase door

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that this space is a home, not just a functional unit, says interior designer, Marguerite Roberts. The room design should have pizzaz and a little drama. These days, we have a huge number of possessions, many of them simply decorative. We all love decorative things, but discretion must be used, especially in a smaller home. Some of these decorative items are small and actually detract from the pleasing appearance that we desire. There should be something in the room that makes a statement about the client’s personality, lifestyle or attitude to life. This might be a piece of art, a wall colour, a piece of interesting furniture, draperies and window treatments, or an accessory. Draperies should be full length draperies and not apologetic shorty ones.

navy small dresser with navy silk draperies and floral wallpaper

The purpose or purposes of the room will determine how we will design the room to function.  If the room is for reading and watching television, it must be designed to reflect those functions. The storage required for those functions must also be in place. In a smaller home, it is often necessary to install the storage required for other rooms of the home in an area that is for a different function. The key is to make the storage piece not only functional, but attractive.

loft style small living room with emerald green wall colour and black furniture

A room that is jam-packed will seem very small indeed. Regular sized furnishings that are forced into the room will dwarf the space once installed. This is especially true if the room is over furnished. There is no need for a cute table in every corner. Open space allows the eye to rest says designer, Marguerite Roberts.

charming and dramatic small living room with dark charcoal wall colour and tangerine velvet clean lined sofa

Area carpets define space and function and lend a hit of colour and drama to even a small room design. These may be subtly coloured or much more vibrant. Geometrics and stripes have made a big comeback and their impact on a room design  is a positive one (some photos courtesy of Better Homes). The eye is drawn along the length of the room which has a striped area carpet. This gives the effect of lengthening the space visually.

simple room design with blush coaral velvet rolled arm sofa, geometric pattern area rug, and healthy house plant

 Many clients who live in small homes are under the mistaken impression that white or off white must be used exclusively. This is definitely not so. A fresh and lively colour palette which suits a client of the right personality is very up-lifting, where white of off white could even be depressing to that client. The purpose of a paint colour consultation is to co-ordinate wall colours in a home with those of the furnishings, window treatments, accessories and artwork in a pleasing and appropriate manner. White, off white and beige can only do so much for us. Through transitioning beautiful colour throughout the space we are able to achieve a much more successful room design, says Marguerite Roberts. Colour in a home makes it feel cozy, rather than small, and besides, it’s fun. In bathrooms as well as bedrooms, we are ale to use rich colour in fun ways. This idea may lend itself to sophisticated room designs, as well as fun and funky ones.

upscale small bathroom in lime and white with shaped soaker tub

Artwork and accessories are very important in a small space. Larger art pieces work well in small spaces. Tiny decorative items lend a feel of claustrophobiaFloor space must be left as clear as possible to avoid a feeling of clutter and crowding. Built-in storage allows hidden storage as well as display storage. Formal design is possible in small spaces but there must always be a feeling of space around the furnishings. Nesting tables take up little space but are very useful when guests arrive. Dark, rich colour palettes will work in small spaces if used judiciously and with flair.

dramatic foyer vignette with large fuschia and purple abstract, black buffet, and black grasscloth wallcovering

Groupings of accessories are much more successful that many small items scattered throughout the room. Even a very tiny room can look spacious and well decorated as long as it is not cluttered with tiny tchotchkes and jammed with furniture.

dramatic powder room with white marble slab vanity, vessel sink, and dark small wall tile

Now that televisions and fireplaces have become so streamlined, we tend to wonder how we ever managed with those huge, clunky televisions and bulky fireplaces of bygone days. Even electronic components are more able to be hidden away than in days of yore. There is less need to store bulky videos adjacent to the television. Videos are as good as gone, but a few clients still hang on to some out of sentimental attachment. Even cds and dvds can be stored tidily in a corner of the room, rather that for all the world to see. Televisions, themselves look much nicer so there is no real need to hide them away. Fireplaces have a much more streamlined look also, and electric fireplaces have really come a long way.

contemporary living room with surface mounted electric contemporary fireplace

 Less is more in the smaller home. A few well placed accessories can have great impact on the overall room design. Collections are likely out unless they have great decorative impact. Big is definitely better. A vast array of small things tends to the claustrophobic.

dramatic dining room with black wall colour, wood buffet, and large orange abstract artworkDraperies, window treatments, and wall coverings can be used to the same extent in a small home as in a large one. Used correctly, even patterned fabrics and papers can be used. Proportion and balance are key. The old assumptions that beige and bland are the only option are simply untrue.

custom draperies with contrast banding in small upscale dining room

Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a consultation. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.

 

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