July: Small Spaces Vol.3: Best Tips for Small Spaces

Welcome to Volume 3 of our Small Spaces blog series!  Today we’re going to go through our best tips for small spaces of all kinds – condos, townhomes, bachelor apartments or any little corner of your home that needs help!

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1. PLAN PLAN PLAN

I can’t stress this one enough.  Yes, it’s a bit cliche, but if you fail to plan, plan to fail.  Start with a to-scale floor plan.  Get some graph paper (or if you’re techy, Sketchup is a free program and it’s pretty amazing – it’s what I use for all my 3D renderings, but you can make flat floor plans too) and a pencil and get measuring.  1/4″ (or one little square) = 1′ is what we designers mostly use, but if you have the space on your graph paper, 1/2″ = 1′ is easier to work with.

Draw out your potential furnishings as little squares and rectangles using the same scale and cut them out.  Then you can move them around the room and get a sense for layout.

2. THINK ABOUT YOUR COLOUR PALETTE

You can go light with your palette to help reflect light and create an open airy space by using cream or white furnishings, sheer or linen drapes and fresh patterns, but keep in mind that cool colours recede and warm colours advance, so stick with pale smokey greys, grey-beiges and grey-blues over peachy or yellow toned beiges.  That being said, a dark or bold colour palette can be super dramatic and cozy in a small space – think rich velour sofas, a plush rug, and grasscloth on the walls.  Delicious.

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3. SCALE AND PROPORTION

Consider the scale of your space and purchase accordingly.  A giant sectional in a small space will take over the room, interrupt traffic flow and eat up valuable floor space.  This cutie from Urban Barn, the Lure Sectional, is the smallest sectional I’ve been able to find.

That being said, too many small pieces will make a space feel cramped and cluttered.  Consider small armless chairs (slipper chairs) or ottomans for additional seating that can be moved around or out of the way as needed.  Look for words like ‘condo size’ – this will tell you that the item you’re looking at is more petite than its regular sized counterparts.

4. GO UP (OR DOWN?)!

There’s only so much floor space, so it’s important to take advantage of walls and even the ceiling!

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A built-in bookcase that wraps around a window offers storage and creates a window seat.  You don’t need a lot of space for this – just a window and about 12″-14″ of depth.

If you’re handy, opening up the spaces between wall studs and floor joists can offer hidden storage areas.

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5. USE MIRRORS, BUT WITH CAUTION

Everyone says mirrors will make a space feel bigger and brighter, but you have to be careful that you place them properly.  If they’re opposite a window, then yes, they’ll reflect light and make the room brighter.  But if the mirror is just reflecting clutter, the bathroom or a big piece of furniture, forget it!

6. LAYER YOUR LIGHTING

This is important in any space – small or large.  You need 3 types of lighting; general lighting, task lighting and mood lighting.  Dimmers are always a good idea, and it’s better to have too much lighting than not enough.  Having different lights on different circuits means you can layer the lighting according to your mood or activity, and a well lit space is so great to live and work in.

7. FLOW AND CONSISTENCY

Keep the flooring the same throughout as much as possible.  The more floor transitions, the choppier the space feels.  The best place to transition floors is in an actual doorway, not the middle of the space.

Install pocket doors whenever you can – door swings take up valuable real estate on both the floors and walls.

8. VERSATILE FURNISHINGS

This is super important!  When you have a small space, making the best use of it is paramount.  A good way to do this is with furnishings that do double (or triple) duty.  A console with an arm that pulls out for extra landing space, a murphy bed or sofa bed for guests, lighting that adjusts in height, a dining bench with storage, sectionals that ‘flip’ (the chaise can go on either side) or that offer hidden storage, kitchens with drawers in the toe kick or with integrated step stools, staircases with drawers along the side or in the risers.  The list goes on! Check out my post on convertible office furniture here.

Could you live in a tiny space?

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