Our good friends over at Of Iron & Oak have kindly created this guest post to help our readers improve their homes by maximising limited living space. Based in New York, of Iron & Oak is a very successful interior design website that constantly strives to offer great tips and advice about small changes that can have a great impact on the way you live.
All words below are written by Keith Zients and Bill Kearney from of Iron & Oak.
7 Ways To Maximise Your Living Space
For many, there is a moment of realisation as you begin to design the spaces in your of your home. It generally occurs as you struggle to fit all of your stuff into the space. You realize that your place - be it apartment, condo, or flat – is rather small. There isn’t room for the 10-foot long chesterfield you dreamed of, or the fully equipped movie theatre you so carefully planned for. When designing and decorating a small space, there are plenty of ways to give the illusion of space, even if its not really there. Consider our 7 tips to create comfortable living space in a small home.
1. Have a plan.
Don’t just go out and buy the first items you like because of the way they look. Measure the amount of space you have and plan your room accordingly. Don’t let the design of a room be centered on making a piece of furniture work. Furniture should be selected to make a room work; a room should never be altered to make a piece of furniture work. Most top designers will render a scaled down floorplan to aid in furniture size selection. Don’t have a space planning program? You can easily use masking tape or painters’ tape to outline your furniture’s measurements (footprint) directly on the floor. The best part is, it comes up easily so you can try various configurations. (And ALWAYS make sure your furniture can actually fit through the doors of your space, up or down stairs, or in a building’s elevator!)
2. Choose a theme.
Do you want your room to be rustic and homey? Do you want it to be minimal and modern? Do you want it to be retro-inspired? Maybe you’re up for the eclectic look – artfully mixing various styles to create your own custom theme. Wherever your style gravitates, research some of the design trends that reflect the kind of mood you want to create. Victorian, Art Nouveau, Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco, Craftsman, Eclectic, and Traditional are just some of the design themes that have withstood the test of time.
3. Get rid of old stuff
Extra items quickly eat up your limited space. You’re going to have to get rid of junk eventually. Designers euphemistically call this “editing”. Hand-me-down desks, old furniture, or oversized items serve no place in a room with limited space. Its okay to dump excess stuff in a storage unit, or even better sell it. Throw it on Craigslist, find a consignment store, give it away, whatever you’ve got to do. Don’t be married to unnecessary items. Nothing makes a room feel cramped like clutter. Edit your items to those you cherish most or items that can create or enhance the design theme you seek.
4. Light, Light, Light.
Anyway you can get it, natural light, track lighting, bright bulbs, table lamps, or standing lamps. Make it so there are no dark corners in the room. Proper lighting in a small space is extremely important. Consider the function of the lighting too – some places require task lighting – desks, kitchen surfaces, reading chairs. Other places are suited for mood lighting – ambient living room light, bedroom lighting, dining room lighting. Installing a dimmer switch is just one way to make any task light into a mood light. Double duty works great in small spaces!
5. Appropriate furniture
A huge sofa in a small room makes a room appear even smaller. Be smart with your furniture pieces, and measure, measure, measure. When selecting a sofa to be placed on a wall don’t pick a sofa that will cover the entire length of the wall. Leave room on both sides for items like shelving, end tables, magazine racks or accessories. Having space on both sides will give the area some air, making the area appear larger.
Consider sofas with low, minimal arms or no arms at all. Also consider easily movable furniture so you can adjust the room set up depending on the occasion. Sofas with exposed legs allow light to flow under the sofa creating the feel of a more open room. Glass tables will have the same effect. Ottomans can act as side tables, coffee tables or additional seating, depending on the need. Creative re-purposing can make a small space extremely versatile.
6. Conceal corners
To conceal room corners you create the illusion of a free flowing room that has no defined ends. You can do this several ways, placing accent pieces in the corner of rooms. This could be artwork, (try the photo arrangement we talk about here) photos or framed art. One of our favorite ways to incorporate a standing lamp into a room is to angle seating, chair, bench, or sofa in a corner so there is space behind the seating. Place the light fixture in this corner and you give yourself a perfect reading spot and you utilize unused space.
7. Use mirrors
Restaurants and hotel lobby’s do it for a reason. It works. A large framed mirror works above the sofa or behind a Television. It also works well opposite a window where the natural light can reflect and make the room appear larger. Mirrored doors are an option as well. Consider a collection of old mirrors in varied sizes and shapes that can make become a real focal point on a large wall or even that awkward-sized wall or divider.
Thanks once again to the guys at of Iron & Oak for this great article. Make sure to check out their website for more great content like this!
What tips have you found for maximising your living space? Would you like to see more interior design articles on CTR? Let us know in the comments!