Properties nowadays are expensive. Purchasing a large piece of land or buying a big house is not always an economically feasible option, nor practical. Owning a condominium versus a freestanding property comes with certain benefits, such as building maintenance and landscaping included in your fees; however, space is often an issue. Interior decorating, furniture selection, and even the fixtures you choose play an integral role in the illusion of space in a room or home. Creating ‘zones’ is key when designing a small area. Interior Designer, Marcy Mussari says, “To me, to have a ‘zone’ in design is to create a different atmosphere, use, or purpose in a space”. Marcy likes to refer to these zones as ‘moments’. A single small area, such as an entranceway, can have multiple purposes by including features such as a full-length mirror to check your appearance, a decorative bowl to store keys, and a bench for putting on shoes. The following are tips to optimize a small apartment or home without making it feel too crammed or clustered:
- Lighting and Mirrors Standing and table lamps take up space or require a surface which could be used as an area for something else. Hanging lights such as pendants, and wall sconces are decorative and take up little space. LED strip lights are one of the simplest solutions for additional lighting, come in an array of colour options, and can be tastefully disguised as, or incorporated into, wall art and decor. Natural lighting is a small space’s best friend, as a large window itself provides the feeling of a room being larger. Sunlight is an inexpensive way to open up the interior of a room. Utilize your windows, or if you’re renovating, consider adding one, or even a skylight, to open up your place. Similar to lighting, strategically-placed mirrors can dramatically increase the appearance of space, by creating the illusion of space replicated in reflection.
- Multi-Purpose Furniture When selecting new furniture for a room or home, shop for options where the fittings can be used for more than one purpose. For example, instead of a traditional coffee table, choose a bench with hidden storage which can be also used as either a table or extra seating when guests come over. Convertible furniture such as sofa beds and futons are not just for grungy basements. Furniture stores and online shopping platforms carry many options for tasteful ‘convertible sofas’ which blend into living rooms whether they’re stylish or simple. A contemporary dining set such as the Osgood 5-piece dining set, available on multiple online shopping platforms, is a small wooden table with vinyl finish, complete with four matching ottomans, each providing storage space and which tuck away neatly under the table’s surface.
- Skirted Furniture For old-fashioned and traditional rooms, consider a simple re-upholstery technique which covers the space between the seat legs and the floor. You can find a skirting for your current bed, or to add to a chair or sofa; you can choose a material which matches or contrasts tastefully with the existing fabric.
- Utilize Your Wall Space Walls are the home’s number one untapped resource for storage which can be transformed into a work of art. By tastefully adding shelving and hooks and displaying your best belongings- such as the ‘good china’- you are adding storage and organization which doubles as adornment. “If you have the wall space then use it! Custom shelving is not only great for storage but also adds a special architectural detail to the space. If your wall space is limited, then another creative idea is installing storage on the ceiling. One way to do this is to install a beautiful iron pots and pan rack over an island,” – Mary Mussari.
- Colour Choice for Decorating> Colour choice has a huge impact on the illusion of space. White is an obvious choice, but there are options for home owners who wish to have a darker and more dramatic look to enhance the theme of a room. Accent walls are walls which stand out from the others to give the room some unique personality. For example, while the room may have three neutral coloured walls, one specific area is highlighted by a contrast dark or bright colour. Marcy Mussari says that many of her clients choose to add an accent colour behind the sofas, or somewhere unexpected such as behind a staircase or some open shelving.
- Necessary Storage Space for Appliances Appliances take up a lot of space in the kitchen, and cluttered countertops counteract the appearance of cleanliness. It is important when designing a kitchen to have a spot for small appliances such as the toaster, mixer, blender, and other items we do not use daily. If you can’t add in a pantry, consider purchasing a coffee station with additional storage or ‘China cupboard’ where the surface can double as extra counter space.
- Arranging your living area furniture When it comes to the living room, especially in a smaller apartment or condo, arranging the furniture to maximize the space is key. Marcy Mussari says when designing her clients’ entertaining areas, she starts with a rug in the centre of the room large enough to have two front legs of each piece of furniture on top of it. “From there I create a ‘conversation area’ with two chairs, a sofa, love seat, or chaise lounge. The coffee table or ottoman goes in the centre, and from there I add lighting, side tables and decor wherever they fit” says Marcy. So, if you live in a small condo, or just have a small room to make use of, creativity is key. Use some of the tips here, and others you can find in home magazines or from professional interior designers to help you best utilize your beautiful small space. TM