Tips

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.


Ellen Miller

Easy hair—that can make you look younger!

Sometimes you learn a hair trick so revolutionary that it would be a crime to keep it to yourself. Over the weekend I got a post-color blowout from Stephen Thomas at the Oscar Blandi salon (@OscarBlandi) in New York City. Stephen’s my go-to blow-out guru because he’s figured out how to give my seaweed-on-a-rock straight hair a bit of texture and volume—that actually lasts for a day or two! (And, as we reported on page 117 of the October issue, adding a bit of curl to straight hair can actually make you look younger!) Unfortunately, I’ve never ever been able to recreate his in-salon magic—until now!

Me, at an event this morning, (Better Homes and Gardens nametag and all!) sporting new, slightly messy waves.

 

The secret to effortlessly pretty waves, surprisingly, is a bit of imperfection. If curls look too uniform you’ll end up looking like you tried a little too hard. Holding a 1” inch curling iron vertically, curl the front pieces back and away from your face. As you go around the rest of your head—and here’s the real revelation—alternate the direction you twirl the hair around the iron. Curl one piece towards your face, then one piece away. Afterwards, instead of hairspray, spray your entire head with a texturizing spray like Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray ($11; oscarblandi.com) and break up the curls with your fingers. See the finished look above—I got so many compliments (from other beauty editors!) that I had to share!

 

Want to try this look? Instagram a photo of the finished product, use the hashtag #BHGbeauty, and be sure to tag me @EllenMillerBty, so I can check it out. Run into problems or have any questions? Tweet me at @EllenMillerBty and I’ll ask Stephen myself and get you an answer pronto!


BHG Guest Blogger

5 Tips for Styling a Basic Bookshelf

 

 

So nice to meet you! I’m Darlene Weir, the principal interior designer for Fieldstone Hill Design, an eDesign and interiors firm. I am also an interiors and style blogger, and I am delighted to be sharing design tips again here at the BHG Style Spotters Blog. Some of my top tips for styling bookcases are being featured in the November 2013 Better Homes and Gardens issue, and I am thrilled to share some additional thoughts with you on how to create a stunning bookcase display, starting with the basics.

 

 

 

 

1.  It’s About the Books

I truly believe that bookshelves should be filled with books. Other items do help to make for a beautiful bookshelf, but they should be the ‘icing on the Book Cake.’ So, start with your books!

{design by Fieldstone Hill Design}

 

Books can be organized and displayed in a variety of beautiful ways. Try grouping your books by color, depth and/or height. Play with symmetrical displays or graduating heights. Or try an ombre color display. Either way, pack in the books!

 

Don’t have a lot of books? Another idea is to use your magazine collection. Or, scour for books via flea markets, yard sales, library sales, or help clear out your friends’ basements! I think it is worth the effort to have book-filled shelves… and a book-filled life for that matter.

 

2. Think Horizontally and Vertically

Once you have your books in, and looking pretty, allow for some breathing room, or gaps, between your books.  Fill in the minor/smaller gaps by using horizontal, stacked books topped with beautiful décor items. Then, fill in any major gaps with larger, vertical décor items. I recommend selecting several large items that all have a common color scheme, since the books themselves will offer a lot of visual busyness.

{design by Fieldstone Hill Design}

3. Add Lovely Fillers

Bookshelves provide the perfect backdrop for displaying favorite décor items among your book collection. Large and small vases, trays, platters, framed family photos, and framed art all make beautiful additions as you “fill in the gaps” between your books. Also, décor items that are simply there for beauty’s sake, are perfect additions as well.

This is an opportunity to display some of the lovelier things in your home, as well as display beautiful pictures of your family. So dig through your cabinets! Hunt around the house for items that have been buried behind closed doors, but are worthy of display, and add them to your bookshelf display.

 

4. Add Useful Fillers

Let’s face it. Sometimes storage space is at a premium. That is why I love the idea of using the extra bookshelf space between books for additional sneaky storage. My favorite tricks?

a) Stacked nesting boxes filled with family photos.

 

 

 b) Beautiful, matching baskets filled with…. Just about anything! This is one of my favorite ways to sneak extra storage out of a room.

 c) Adding a mini-bar or water bar on a tray. This is an artful and practical addition to a bookshelf. The water bar idea is my new favorite! It is so nice to have a display of sparkling Italian waters to offer to any of your guests.

 

5. Think outside of the box

This is a simple trick that truly elevates your bookshelf beauty to another level: Hang some gorgeous art onto the outside of your bookshelves! Layering in this way adds depth and texture {not to mention pretty art!} to your bookshelf design.

 

Ultimately, have fun with your bookshelves. Remember that decorating rules are meant to be broken. And always, decorate with what you LOVE! Who has time for “like?” Basic bookshelves never need to be boring!

 

For more bookshelf inspiration and design tips, I would love to have you join me over at Fieldstone Hill Design!


Allison Maze

Beauty Spotlight: Drew Barrymore

We asked, Drew answered!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew Barrymore — actress, new mom, and creator of the makeup line Flower Beauty — is featured in our annual Stylemaker Issue! We called for beauty questions last week on Facebook, and today we’re excited to share a special video Drew’s made to answer a few of them. Drew was so impressed by your questions, she asked to hang on to them for future Tip Tuesday videos.

See more beauty tips from Drew Barrymore

See Drew answer a BHG reader question

Many thanks to Drew and her team for letting us be a part of today’s video. If you love Drew’s style, be sure to pick up a copy of the September issue of Better Homes and Gardens to learn about her new makeup line and beauty tips.