No matter how big or small your space or budget, great design comes in all shapes and sizes. "Design is still design," assures Kenneth Brown, host of HGTV's ReDesign. All it takes is an eye for details and a nose for putting them together.
The designer has the eyes, the nose, and definitely the teeth for gnashing through droves of design elements so he can get to the heart of what is good, clear, and beautiful. "[I advise] clearing out the room to the bare minimum," Brown says. "Learning to purge the unnecessary pieces of a room can bring instant clarity."
Clearing out the room was the only way Brown could start on this decorating challenge: the living room and attached eating area in a small third-floor walk-up apartment in Los Angeles. Make that a tiny space -- about 228 square feet. Oh, and it's a rental unit. Not that that's an excuse. "You can still make a space interesting without committing to it," he notes.
Brown's tips for packing a lot of style into a small space will help even the most lilliputian pad resonate with smart design and personality. And, if you're fortunate enough to live in a larger space, you'll still find his decorating advice useful. After all, design is still design.
To make the humble windows (shown above) look taller and highlight the brick wall, Brown hung the shades and curtains from the ceiling, draping the exposed brick and framing the wall, turning the expanse into a more prominent feature. A band of brightly colored, boldly patterned fabric (sewn on by his dry cleaner) livens up the basic, neutral curtains that Brown bought.
Brown methodically chose armless furniture to maintain openness throughout the living spaces. Armless pieces "allow the room to breathe without creating boundaries," the designer explains. The furniture arrangement in the living room is also key to the airy look.
Everything is centered on the rug, which Brown says acts like an island. "By allowing the sofa to 'float' in the middle of the room, the room can be accessed from all sides," he says. "This gives the eye a chance to move around the room and not feel limited to one traffic pattern."
"Break the bank for a well-made sofa in a durable fabric," designer Kenneth Brown says. It will last for years. A mirror between a pair of curtain-clad bookcases looks like a window and makes the room feel bigger. A pair of lightweight coffee tables can be used together to hold objects and separately for dining or working, or moved out when extra space is needed.
Continued on page 2: What to Do with Walls