More and more, I'm convinced that smaller dwellings are the way to go later in life -- or even now. The last time I did some housekeeping, it nearly took me all day, and then some. In their younger years, most folks need more space mainly because of growing families, multiple activities and, yes, some just want to show off. The "bigger is better" mentality drives such thinking. However, if you pause and think about how much space is really necessary for your life and daily routine, you'd be astonished how much less space you truly require.
Small spaces are challenging to design because of the limitations that "pint-sized" brings. Nonetheless, small is sometimes a blessing in disguise, and convenient and stylish, too. In small spaces, you can splurge on an expensive material or treatment because not much is required. Small spaces require less maintenance, and housework can be done in less than a couple of hours. You can also pack an unexpected style punch in small quarters.
Here are a few tips and easy decorating ideas to get maximum style out of a small space:
--Using a common color throughout the room: Walls, furniture and accessories in the same color allow the individual items to blend into the background, defying the confines of the small room.
--Like a master painter's use of chiaroscuro, dark walls will make a space seem larger.
--Flooring with a solid color or a small print is best.
--Hanging drapery panels from the top of the walls gives the impression of a taller ceiling.
--Additional storage space can be created with rolling racks and floor-to-ceiling drapery panels.
--Using glass or lucite furniture makes furniture virtually disappear, creating the illusion of more open space.
--A home office can be created inside a closet by building out a desk surface and purchasing a chair with wheels.
--A collection of different framed mirrors above a sofa or on a dining room wall can help expand the space and add visual interest.
--Stacks of books topped with a lamp can function as a nightstand or end table.
--If designing a studio or efficiency apartment, forgo a formal bedroom set in favor of a pair of daybeds, which can double as a sofa with lots of decorative pillows atop.
--A bold color or wall treatment such as a wallpaper or faux-finish can provide the Wow factor in a small space.
--Boxes of all kinds and in every possible material look great when stacked; they are almost architectural.
--When selecting accessories, make sure no single item is smaller than a football.
--Keep window treatments simple and within the window frame, unless you are trying to make a window look larger, in which case you would expand the treatment as far outside the window as desired.
It's important to think big when designing small spaces. Sometimes an idea for a larger space can be adapted to help you transform your pint-size dwelling into a satisfying place to enjoy. No idea is a bad one. In the end, it's a bit of trial and error.
Joseph Pubillones' weekly column, "The Art of Design," can be found at Creators.com.