So much of truly enjoying tiny space has to do with using the right ingredients. You simply cannot put a puzzle together without the correct piece fitting into place.
The same is true for a room that is space-challenged or awkward. If you think about it, a small room allows much fewer mistakes because each square foot is precious.
Often we already own certain things and are frankly reluctant to get rid of a perfectly good bed or sofa, despite that fact that the size might be all wrong for your particular use. This ought to concern you.
First, you must force yourself to look at your room as if it were the very first time that you were actually seeing it. This is an excellent exercise to perform for each of us, no matter how large our home might be. You may notice for the first time that the sofa is far too large for your room. Making an expenditure for a new loveseat instead of a 6.5-foot sofa that you already have might not be comfortable, but it is valuable to achieve better balance in the room.
A fresh look might also cause you to notice things like how you really could use a taller end table or a smaller coffee table to make the room feel less crowded. Maybe a floor lamp sitting next to a chair will change that spot into a better place to read. If you add an ottoman to that spot, suddenly it becomes a cozy corner.
Other elements of your home, such as dirty and beat-up baseboards, faded wall paper and torn draperies, might be detected as well!
Analysis of each part of your room without emotional attachment to pieces of furniture is an important aspect of the creation of a comfortable and functional space. For years, I have been hammering about dual-use and flexible furniture because you get more bang for your buck and you begin to coax more function out of one area.
The C Coffee Table with Stool from hayneedle.com is a perfect example of a slim cocktail table that incorporates in compact fashion auxiliary seating that rolls wherever you need it to go. There are also several furniture manufacturers that offer hydraulic lifts on their coffee tables, so you can change the height of a table from sofa use to dining height easily with the touch of a lever.
Whenever you can occupy floor space yet serve two purposes, you have achieved maximum use of your room. Folding, stacking, rolling, hanging and expanding are your key words to remember.
Keep your eyes open for such rare creatures because you can find great ideas in antique malls, mail-order catalogs and via online venders. I recently found a commercial-grade stainless steel work table that rolls where you need it then stores flat in CHEFS catalog. For about $200, the 30-inch-wide by 24-inch-deep by 38-inch-high heavy-duty rust- and moisture-resistant work surface with a towel rack collapses into just 3 inches wide! As any chef knows, a counter-starved kitchen can make prep tricky, and being able to expand counter space on demand is ideal and worth a small investment.
Be on the lookout for small-scale appliances that are also space-saving. Hammacher.com offers a paper shredder for under $50 that is only 4 inches wide by 13.5 inches deep by 17 inches high. About the size of a small briefcase, this device can easily tuck out of the way.
Instead of using a mix of extra chairs when you have more than two for dinner in a tiny dining area, maybe you can replace them with matching stacking or folding chairs that can be stored in the garage or basement or even safely covered on a porch or balcony. Matching an extra four to six chairs allows you to be unembarrassed when you entertain.
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.