Small is big right now and downsizing is cool. From young couples choosing their first home to empty-nesters leaving their large family home behind, people are embracing smaller homes. And why not? Less square footage means a smaller footprint from construction to maintenance. But no one wants to feel like they’re living in a closet. Your home should feel comfortable and welcoming. Small spaces can feel positively expansive with just a few design tips and tricks up your sleeve.
Multi-functional pieces – Create additional “space” by using storage furniture, tables and benches with hidden storage. Everything should serve at least double duty.
Use stow aways – If you’re tight on space but still love to entertain, rely on tables and chairs that fold up and store in a closet until needed.
Leave some empty space – If you can see the floors, or bits of the wall, the space will feel larger. Get stuff up and of the floor by using vertical space. Install shelves to display artwork and use attractive baskets or bins for additional (and hidden) storage.
Use corners – Corners are often overlooked, and underused, spaces. Use tables and shelves meant to fit into the corner to maximize space with minimal visual impact.
Let the sunshine in – Natural light is the best friend a small space ever had. Keep window treatments simple and uncluttered to allow in as much light as possible. And if you don’t have the real thing, fake it with good-quality, natural-daylight compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.
Declutter and keep it neat – Get rid of general clutter, corral all of your day-to-day stuff with baskets and bins (or find new homes for them) and then tackle the décor. Remove everything and then return with just one to three of any one type of décor (magazines, throw pillows, vases, etc.)
Mirror, mirror – Brighten your room and create the illusion of space with the careful use of mirrors. These truly are a case of “go big or go home.” Opt for large mirrors that will reflect large amounts of light and a lot of the room.
Use built-ins and wall units – Installing an entire wall of shelves or building a window seat (with storage) into a bay is not only practical, it’s a visual trick that will make your space seem larger.
Open doorways – In tight spaces where privacy is not an issue, consider removing the door frame and opening the space up floor-to-ceiling. It will create a more open feel and the illusion of space.
Size matters – Avoid the temptation to choose diminutive pieces. It’s all about balance. When it comes to seating, opt for the largest size the room can comfortably handle. It will make the room feel bigger than lots of little tiny pieces will. The flip side? Don’t stuff an over-size piece into a too-small room. When it comes to art, a single, large statement piece makes a room feel more expansive than lots of little pieces.
Where to go small? Side tables. Keep your side and accent tables on the small side to maximize available floor space.
Keep it simple – Bi,g bold colors, large prints or patterns, they can all work to make a small space look bigger than it is. Lots of patterns and mixes of prints and patterns will tend to bring a room in, making it feel smaller.
Color me large – Traditional logic dictates a single pale color and reflective surfaces to make small spaces appear larger. The modern take on the technique, use layers of tonal color to add depth and define spaces. Use one color for the wall of one room, and another for the door opening and walls in the next room to accentuate and expand the space. Using tones and shades of the same color extends rooms into each other, allowing them to blend and seem bigger, but still feel defined.
Take to the floor – Stripes on a floor make a room feel bigger. Laying tile on a diagonal will do the same.
And finally, when it comes to your small space, the last rule is, break the rules. Create a furniture arrangement that works for your room. If a sofa and love seat just won’t work in your space, how about a love seat and coordinating chairs? Or even four large chairs? There are no design police. An unexpected set up that makes the room work and flow better will also make it feel bigger.