January 6, 2013

Think small

By KAREN SULLIVAN McClatchy Newspapers

Townhouse condos are springing up everywhere, and larger homes continue to be repurposed into small apartments, proof that bigger is not better for everyone.

click image to enlarge

It makes sense to spend a little more to dress up a powder room or tiny kitchen, because pricey materials will be used in small quantities.

McClatchy Newspapers

click image to enlarge

Open floor plans are well-suited to small spaces. The idea is to use every space in as many ways as possible.

Additional Photos Below

And home furnishing companies are catering to this expanding market. As a result, consumers can fit lots of new comforts into a modest footprint.

With a smart approach to design, smaller spaces can be efficient, elegant and welcoming, experts say.

Here are some of their tips for making even the tiniest small space something special.

SCALE DOWN: Sleek, clean lines and simple designs do better in small spaces, says home design and staging expert Wendy Field, owner of Field Consulting in Charlotte, N.C. The improved futon Beddinge sofa bed from Ikea (starting at $279) has that uncluttered look that keeps a room feeling spacious. Smaller appliances might also be the best choice. Refrigerator drawers can be built alongside the lower cabinets. A small washer can be stored in a closet.

MAKE EVERYTHING MULTITASK: Use tables and chairs in different shapes and sizes. Some pieces can transition from dinnertime buffet to office or homework space. Choose a small chest of drawers for a bedroom nightstand for extra storage. A coffee table should also have storage.

CHOOSE MOVABLE PIECES: Ottomans and chairs or a guest bed can be in the middle of the room one minute, then pushed against the wall the next to make room for more people or games. For example, a one-bedroom Charlotte condo has a small galley kitchen that opens to the living room. The stools can be used for seating or as side tables, says designer Cathy Diel of Diel Design & Interiors in Charlotte. Many ottomans also have storage areas.

USE VERTICAL SPACE: Preventing clutter is a challenge in a small space, says Jennifer Foresman, senior manager of trend and design for Home Depot. Shelves and cabinets can conceal personal items, as well as the bed when it's not being used. The same approach to keeping things tidy can be used in an office.

SPLURGE: It makes sense to spend a little more to dress up a powder room or tiny kitchen, because pricy materials will be used in small quantities. Use high-end flooring, wallpaper or marble that you could not afford in a large space, says Foresman. Las Vegas designer Taylor Borsari decorated a powder room with silver-leaf pattern on limestone tile from Walker Zanger. The sink is concrete.

AN EFFICIENT FOOTPRINT: Fewer formal spaces: Open floor plans are well suited to small spaces. The idea is to use every space in as many ways as possible.

OFFICES ABSENT: Laptops and other portable devices make it possible to work almost anywhere. You're less likely to find someone sitting alone in a room behind a large desk.

BE BOLD: Color is the least expensive way to dramatically change a room. Vibrant tones are fine for a small space, Foresman says. Contrasting colors can have a huge impact, giving a room dimension or drawing the eye to architectural details. Diel recommends limiting the palette to two or three colors. A wide stripe behind the bed can make the ceiling feel taller.

STREAMLINED FURNISHINGS: Grand pieces clutter smaller spaces. Even the television takes up less space today, thanks to flat-screen designs.With living-space footprints trending down in size, designers are coming up with all manner of strategies to make a lot out of a little.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

One designer suggests limiting the palette in a small room to two or three colors. In this bedroom, a wide stripe behind the bed makes the ceiling feel taller.

click image to enlarge

Streamline the furniture. Grand pieces clutter smaller spaces.


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)