More Living Ideas

Our editors share their inspirations every day

Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Reader Question: Making a Home in a Small Space

Posted by

Last week, Michael in Chicago suggested that I write a post about making a home in a small space, as he has recently downsized to a smaller apartment. Although I have moved into a larger space, I still have the mindset that strategy is everything - and I am certain that giving up space does not equate to sacrificing style and comfort. I think the following tips can apply to all living spaces, not just small ones:

Back
1 of 2
I love how this designer uses the height of a room to her advantage (from http://robynclarke.com)

1 I love how this designer uses the height of a room to her advantage (from http://robynclarke.com)

These built-in shelves surrounding the door frames are such a smart and useful design. I would love to try something like this in my new apartment - perhaps in the guest room/office space. (from apartmenttherapy.com)

2 These built-in shelves surrounding the door frames are such a smart and useful design. I would love to try something like this in my new apartment - perhaps in the guest room/office space. (from apartmenttherapy.com)

1.) Get Organized. When you live in a small space, organization is imperative. Built-in storage is a great way to take advantage of floor space, and it often feel less obtrusive than free standing storage units

2.) See the Corners. I think one of the most common misconceptions is that pushing furniture into the corners of a room will maximize living space. This couldn't be more wrong! Pull items away from the corners to prevent your space from feeling claustrophobic and mount lighting and shelves on walls to prevent clutter on the floor.

3.) Invest in Area Rugs - they make a room feel larger and help to designate the different functions of a single space, especially in one-room studios. I browsed the MS Rug Collection from Safavieh this weekend and found several designs that I'd love to have for my living room.

image from New York Magazine

image of a NYC loft from New York Magazine

4.) Mirrors. Use them strategically and to your advantage. They create an illusion of more space and bring more light into a room. I will probably use them in every room of my apartment, especially in the hallways to prevent them from looking too dark and cramped.

Back
1 of 2
I love the use of several antique mirrors in this bathroom (image from MSL Special Issue 2007)

1 I love the use of several antique mirrors in this bathroom (image from MSL Special Issue 2007)

Walls lined with floor-to-ceiling windows open up small spaces, like this foyer (image from MSL, February 2008)

2 Walls lined with floor-to-ceiling windows open up small spaces, like this foyer (image from MSL, February 2008)

5.) Multitask. Allow for everything – furniture, appliances, rooms – to have multiple functions. For instance, a large table can act as a desk during the day and a dining room table at night, or a console can pull double-duty as a work station. When unoccupied, the guest quarters in my apartment will function as a library and home office.

Back
1 of 2

1

2

You May Also Like:

You May Also Like:

Comments (6)

  • The tip about seeing corners is so true, even in my tiny bedroom (10'x10'), the space feels better with my bed centered on the wall instead of pushed into a corner.

  • Area rugs are key, but I have not used them to my advantage in my own home. I should think of them like runners, which I do use well. Just as they lead people through a space, area rugs define specific zones of it.

    Mirrors are so tricky and I've seen them go really wrong in the public spaces of others' homes. I keep this in mind when hanging them: Do they fill a very specific, public-oriented purpose? For example, I make sure they are reflecting something, like the natural light streaming in through a window.

    If they are placed in areas where guests may not be able to determine the reasonfor their existence(either aesthetic or functional), their minds just may lead to unsavory thoughts.

  • Dear Kevin,
    I agree every tip you posted can apply to all living spaces. I love the idea of built-in shelves surrounding the door frames as you mentioned great idea in the guest room/office space. I believe that mirrors bring a sense of refreshment, calm and create space.
    I browsed the Martha Stewart Rug Collection from Safavieh, beautiful hand made rug collection.
    Thank you Kevin for this post. Always looking forward to new ones.

  • Thanks for excellent post! Everything you mentioned will come in handy as I move into my new mini-place. I also saw the MS Rug Collection from Safavieh...Professor Albers would have been impressed.

  • Where can I get that console/dining table???

  • Hi Kevin,

    By reading your post, I am getting away with lots of good ideas on how to design my mini apartment.

    I am particularly fond of the built-in book shelves above the door frames. What a brilliant idea and completely utilize the space in the apartment. I also like the natural white color on the door frame.

    Look forward reading more decorating tips from you.

    Jay Chua
    Publisher, PorchSwingSets.com

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.