small space

Maxwell Ryan

How to Achieve Serious Small Space Style, Including Small-Space Furniture Ideas

Stylish small spaces are defined by not only being stylish, but knowing how to make the most of small space so that it actually feels roomy and luxurious. To get this effect there are six things you should know:

 

1. Always include something big. Small spaces will actually feel smaller if you make everything tiny, so by placing at least one surprising, oversized object into the room (artwork or lighting are good choices) you will create a pleasing contrast that will help the room to feel much bigger.

2. Use the walls. Utilizing your walls for extra storage space is a must. Bookcases, hooks, shelves, wall mount lights and tall slim cabinets that rise up your walls will allow you to keep your floors open.

3. But don’t use ALL of your walls. If you want a room to feel open visually be sparing in your coverage of the walls you don’t use for storage. Cutting down on hanging art and clustering storage along one wall will cut down on visual clutter. A nice coat of paint is just as good as a piece of interesting art in a small room.

 

4. Use off whites for color and brightness. White paint on your walls will reflect more light and make your space expand visually, BUT off-whites (with a touch of color) are far more interesting and stylish.

5. Turn up the lights. Shadows caused by underlighting will contract even the best of rooms and make any space feel smaller, so always have at least three points of light in every room. For really tight spaces small scale track lighting is a great way to boost the light and uplights set in the corners are a great way to illuminate your walls and make them seem taller.

 

6. Paint or stain your floor dark. While going light and bright with walls and ceilings helps to expand a room upward, going dark on the floor creates a crisp contrast that also makes your floors disappear beneath your feet.

Good chic furniture that will optimize a small space without looking awful is also important, and because you need so little, splurging makes sense. Here are my top choices that I’ve used again and again:

  • Stanley Console by Gus Modern. With only two legs and a slim surface this is the perfect piece for a hard working entryway.
  • Elfa Shelving. Well priced, stylishly designed and with many options for wood color and depth, this is my go to source for quick wall storage.
  • Ercol Bar Stools. Handmade in England, this simple beautiful design now comes in colors to make the most of a bar area in the smallest amount of space.
  • IKEA Gulliver Crib. If you’re putting together a baby’s nursery, this is the slimmest, nicest thing you can buy.
  • West Elm Tripod table. Round always wins and three legs is better than four. This is a perfect small table for a kitchen.
  • Hailo Big Box Trash Can. Attractive slim trash cans are hard to find. This one is top of its class.

Maxwell Ryan

6 Tips for Living in Small Spaces

Having lived in small spaces all of my life, I feel that I’ve learned a few things about how to live in them well. Some may seem counterintuitive such as “put big things into small spaces,” but often what works is not obvious. Many people like to compare outfitting a small space to outfitting a boat, with a small space set aside for everything and all the surfaces covered, but this is first generation thinking and small homes on land are not boats. Homes need more breathing room and carefully fitting everything in creates a suffocating environment. Second generation space planning uses a number of tools to push and exaggerate the small space, making it feel much bigger emotionally than it is physically in square feet. In the end of the day whether your space FEELS small or big is what it’s all about.

 

1. 20% Emptiness = Happiness

One-hundred percent perfectly full is a loss, not a victory. Every room, every shelf and every cabinet should have a little breathing room to allow your eye to rest and make it easy to put something away without struggle. Traditional Japanese architects are said to plan their buildings around where the shadows fall and not where the light does. Being this conscious of shadows and the empty spaces and planning for them is a game changer. Leaving 20 percent empty and waiting will achieve this.

 

2. Lighten Walls, Darken Floors

The lighter you paint your walls, the more luminous your room will be, as well as the farther away they will seem. While doing the same to the floor might also make the room feel bigger, I find that dark-stained floors feel cozier underfoot and create contrast at the bottom edge of the walls that makes them seem brighter and taller to boot. A dark floor is earthlike and has a way of falling away underneath you as you enter a room, and if you paint your ceiling extra bright white it will magically suspend itself upward and open up like the sky over your head.

 

3. Put Big Into Small

If you get too frugal with a space and scale everything down to fit in, you will get a very small feeling resonating through. Inserting one or two large pieces into a small space is surprising and creates a “change moment” that we find refreshing and allows us to consider a small room as being larger than it really is. Large artwork, rugs, lighting and even beds balanced against appropriately-sized pieces will create an energetic contrast and a sense of luxury.

 

4. Three Points of Light

Light is your most powerful tool when manipulating space and getting it to expand. Our sense of space comes from where our eye can travel and it is drawn to light and avoids darkness. While paint colors and reflectivity are important, starting with adequate light is essential. Most homes, I have found, are underlit, so I have a simple guide: make sure you have three light sources in every room and don’t include simple light fixtures in the ceiling’s middle, as these shed a very poor light. Light should glow at the level you are living. Table lamps, floor lamps and ceiling fixtures that direct their light down to the walls or the floor are best. When things feel small, add more light!

 

5. Mirrors Multiply Light

It’s the oldest trick in the book, but mirrors DO multiply the ambient light in a room and allow your eye to extend beyond the walls they hang on, creating a much greater sense of space. Again, the feeling of how much room you have is directly related to how far your eye can travel and mirrors definitely help. Add them to dining rooms, hallways, bathrooms and living rooms. Keep them out of the bedroom, as they are stimulating and don’t support a deep rest.

 

6. Doors Eat Up Space

Most homes have too many doors. Really. Doors take up a lot of floor space in order to open and close properly, making floor planning challenging, and they are often quite unnecessary between interior rooms. Bi-fold doors and sliding doors on closets can get stuck and shut down 50 percent of a closet. In space-challenged situations, I often start by scouting the doors to see which ones I can remove right away. This allows for more movement and more room for furniture. With closets, my classic solution is to remove the doors and replace them tightly with heavy white canvas curtains. This allows 100 percent accessibility and also allows light within the closet to make the curtain glow as if it were a window and not a dark hole.


Jen Jones

Organize This: Dorm Room!

Trend: Neon

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Neon emotes a youthful and happy feeling.  So what better space to integrate some neon, than within your dorm room?

Organizing a dorm room takes some smart thinking.  Often times, you are given a box of a room, which must function as a kitchen, living room, bedroom and office in one.

 

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When given the opportunity, maximize the dorm room space by lofting the bed.  By raising the bed, you can tuck a living room and workspace below.  In front of the couch, storage ottomans are the best solution as they can act as a surface for food and drinks, while also storing essentials inside.

 

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If lofting the bed is not an option, check out bed risers.  Even raising the bed a foot or two will allow for  multiple storage bins to be stowed away below.

 

Closet space is often times limited within a dorm as well.  Don’t just settle for a standard shelf and clothing rod.  Add a mixture of stackable storage pieces to create custom organizing solutions.  Also consider adding a second rod for double hanging space {and hang items on super slim hangers} and finding organizers for the back of the door to ensure every amount of the closet is being utilized.

 

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In a dorm, the wall will be your best storage friend.  Adding in adjustable shelving with provide ample surface space for books, binders, accessories and baskets.  The wall is also a great place to create a command center by adding a bulletin board and wall pockets, for keeping your daily schedule, assignments and social life on track.

 

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The desk space is one of the most important spaces within the dorm room, as that is ultimately why you are there right?  Therefore, it is important to have adequate work surface space, task lighting and a very comfortable chair.

 

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If possible, build in a mini kitchen.  Simple big box store cabinets can be pieced together to hold a miniature fridge, sink, cook-top or microwave.  The drawers are a great place to stash small dishes and cookware.

 

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Jen Jones

Organize This: Small Office Nooks!

Trend: Tucked Away Workspaces!

 

 

Let’s face it, workspaces are a huge home necessity.  We need them for keeping track of home budgets and finances, for filing, paying our bills, for working from home, for crafting and projecting and of course, for doing our studies.  That is a lot of function for one space to handle, especially when space is limited and an entire room can’t be dedicated to the function.

That is why tiny, tucked away home offices are so huge.  We need them, but the option to devote an entire room from our home to a home office is simply a luxury.

 

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While we were personally in the process of creating our dreamy home office in our lower level, we took advantage of a guest bedroom closet to create a temporary workspace.  The closet was the perfect solution as it was previously being utilized for craft storage, and wouldn’t require us to disrupt them main living areas with a cluttered work area.  Now that we are using our new home office, the closet office still lives on as a study area for the kids, or a nice place for our guests to spend a few quiet minutes of their visit. It is also still one of my most favorite spots in our home.

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Closet offices are really becoming quite the rage.  Simply put, they work!  They are space saving, keep workspace clutter tucked away nice and neat and utilize oodles of vertical wall storage.

 

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There are all sorts of ways to make these closet areas not only functional, but pretty enough to want to spend a few hours tackling administrative tasks.  The biggest way to help them feel like another room in your home; is to treat it like one!  A bold paint color, a pretty stencil or wallpaper {or even wrapping paper}, really make a cheerful statement.

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But back to storage!  It’s amazing how much storage a closet office can really pack!  Whether you add in hooks and rails, floating shelves or peg board wall systems, utilizing the wall space is crucial for making the most of tucked away workspace storage options.

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And when you are all done with work for the day, closet offices can be closed up and out of site.  Curtains are one of the best way to do this as they take up much less space than standard doors, and they also add extra softness to a room!

 

But wait, what if you don’t have a closet to spare?  No worries!  There are so many other ways to gain a workspace when overall space is limited.

 

Look around your home for happy little nooks.  A small corner, a spot between two cabinets or walls or even that forgotten space under the stairs.

These mini-offices can still be uber functional by building in a desk or purchasing a smaller sized version measured to fit your space.   Add some wall storage, a memo board, task lighting, some dishes for small office supplies and a filing cabinet tucked below, and you have yourself one heck of a workspace!

 

Still nookless and closetless?  Scour local thrift stores or your favorite furniture shop for an armoire.  Many are outfitted as workstations for your computer, while the doors and backing act as a place to pin up notes, photographs and memos {add magnetic tin, cork or chalkboard paint to give yourself an instant memo board}.  The lower portion is a wonderful spot for larger electronics such as printers and scanners, along with drawers for filing away all of the paperwork.   And again, just close it up to hide that daily clutter when all is said and done each day.

 

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