Small homes are often exactly what we live in. This may or may not be our choice, but is the reality. So many people leave the enhancement of their home decor till the elusive time when they are able to live in a large home. Many times the move does not happen so they live in limbo wishing for something almost impossible to achieve. Interior design is not just for clients who own large homes. A lot of personalized interior design can really transform a small or even tiny home. In addition, a smaller home has smaller surfaces so higher end finishes are likely quite affordable. 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 analyze 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. This is truly a luxury feature that is available to many owners of smaller homes, as well as larger ones. Often the third or fourth bedroom in a home is not very large. In a pinch, it can be used as a bedroom if the number of occupants in a home requires it. It’s so much better to use it as a dressing, craft room, or quiet reading nook than to allow it to gather clutter. Off season clothing can also be stored here.small bedroom built as a dressing room with three walls of floor to ceiling closet cabinetrySeating options are quite varied and need not be limited to only very small, streamlined pieces in a smaller home. 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. Armless chairs are an option if space is really limited, although most people do feel more comfortable in chairs that do have arms. The arms can be clean lined and square, rather than scrolling, to save space. It is all to the better if the seating can convert into a sofa bed to accommodate a guest comfortably. There are even armchairs that convert for sleeping, as well. 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.

Some clients do not need to store toys, books, magazines or decor items. In fact, they may just want some creative pieces that are comfortable and really different to look at. Sometimes, these are custom pieces, and sometimes these are refurbished vintage finds. The room below is a terrific example of this with a funky but comfortable velvet sofa, asymmetrically framed original artwork, and a rich blue wall colour. The heat radiator is painted in a deep blue to make it disappear into the colour scheme. Even the textured wall to wall carpet is in keeping with the monochromatic colour scheme. There are white accents in the artwork and tabletops, and a touch of gleaming brushed gold in the lamp, adding an element of sparkle.wide view of small living room in deep blue with curved and funky blue loveseat with small abstract art pieces in a small living roomIt is a myth that we cannot use dark or daring colours in a smaller home. The colour palette just has to be beautiful and suit the occupants of the home. Many times a paint colour consultation has helped a home owner greatly improve their home’s ambiance. Our homes should be fun to come home to. charming and colourful upscale contemporary living room with yellow sofa, large abstract artwork, and custom draperiesCreating storage solutions is part of living in a smaller home. Minimalism is really not practical for many people. We do have stuff and we like our stuff. We need places to keep it. Televisions have become much larger, as well. Items stored in a built-in media unit do not have to relate to entertainment. We find storage where we have created it. Once it is full, we have too many things and we need to edit some out, rather than pine for a larger home. Technology has helped some people to pare down possessions such as collections of books, magazines, files, receipts, and the like. small living room with clean lined media unit and built-in storage in whiteAcquiring too many possessions or having no system of organization often detracts from the beauty of the living space and actually adds stress to the occupants of the home. Ironically, having too many decorative objects actually detracts from the overall beauty of the home, whether it is small or large. This is especially true if the colour of the excess items does not even relate to the home decor, or the excess makes it difficult to find a place to sit down and relax. Living in a smaller home also tends to limit accumulation of objects that are really not necessary to a good quality of life. 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. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that this space is a home, not just a functional unit, says designer, Marguerite Roberts. The room design should have pizzaz and a little drama.

The room below is an example of too many elements used with disastrous effect. This very sofa is actually perfectly nice, entirely unadorned with pillows. The aim of adding the array of pillows may have been to enhance the overall decor of the room. In fact, they detract. The leather looks pretty good on its own, perhaps needing some lubricating care. A better solution may be a luxurious throw in black or cream. In addition, the array of pillows leave the occupants of the home nowhere to actually sit, until they remove the pillows to…where exactly? clutter of too many mismatched throw pillows

upscale modern living room with leather tufted sofa, throw blacket, rustic crystal chandelier and floor lamp, and tall wood bookcase in washed finishThe room with the black, tufted leather sofa is not a large room, but it seems airy and comfortable. A home owner with minimalist leanings might change the style of lighting to cleaner lined choices, and if adding decor items to the shelves, they would perhaps be only books or objects with squared lines, rather than curving. There are plenty of decor elements on display, but they are not actually excessive or in the way of comfort. Often people in smaller homes choose small scale furniture and pale colours, having been told 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. The eye just drifts vaguely around the room, and the viewer is left underwhelmed, and not really sure what is missing. 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. A minimalist may be happier to leave the floor bare, especially if it is beautiful hardwood. 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.

The room below could be a beautiful reading nook or a place to watch your television shows away from everyone else. The low quality sofa never had a chance since it was manufactured out of nearly nothing. It can hardly stand up on its own. The exercise bike and other items just cannot fit into this space. Surely there is somewhere else in the home they could be. There is no room for them in this space. There is a sense of chaos, rather than calm. This space would be much better used as the exercise area only. It is perhaps out of the way of the main living spaces, and certainly is too small to use as a seating area unless the seating element used is smaller so that it fits the space.otherwise very nice cluttered living room with exercise bike and items piled on the sofaThese days, many of us have a huge number of possessions, often 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. 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.

Even light colour palettes can be dramatic as seen below. This is achieved through dramatic accent pieces, such as artwork, contrasting toss cushions, small but functional accent furniture, and texture in elements such as carpeting.contemporary reading nook with large white chair and a half, black throw, chrome lamp, and sisal area rugThere 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. Wallpaper fell out of favour some years ago, but is now back with a vengeance. There are fabulous wallpaper and mural options now on offer. Draperies should be full length draperies and not apologetic, shorty ones. Well made custom draperies that are full width, fully lined, full length, add a sense of luxury to a room design. They also stand the test of time. Luxury fabrics, such as silk, linen, wool are quite practical. navy small dresser with navy silk draperies and floral wallpaperIn 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. 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. 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. 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 plantMany 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 or 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 specialist. Colour in a home makes it feel cozy, rather than small, and besides, it’s fun. In bathrooms as well as bedrooms, we are able to use rich colour in fun ways. This idea may lend itself to sophisticated room designs, as well as fun and funky ones. 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 claustrophobia.  Floor 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.  Groupings of accessories are much more successful that many small items scattered throughout the room.charming and funky casual smaller home with red exposed brick, grey velvet buton tufted sofa, rustic wood and metal open shelving and hardwood flooringEven a very tiny room can look spacious and well decorated as long as it is not cluttered with tiny tchotchkes and jammed with furniture. 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 and dvds 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.small child and happy dog messy from baking with flourWhat if you are in a smaller home and have kids and dogs? These take up space and create clutter as well as a bit of dirt. They also need stuff. They may also be part of the reason why you may never manage to acquire that larger home. Storage may be the key. Many people with kids and dogs have a lot more stuff for them than is actually needed. Every birthday and Christmas brings in more toys, clothes and other items. Perhaps this acquisition of new stuff could be reined in. That is up to the home owner, but many clients have expressed frustration at the volume of toys and other accoutrements involved. Storage and more storage is likely the solution, accompanied by regular purging of worn out or forgotten items. Floor to ceiling wall storage is your friend. There are many clever solutions available and the sooner the items cluttering every closet and horizontal surface have an organized home, the better for all drawers under the stairs

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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