August 13, 2010

Small space living: Maximize it!

2329755947_92f525133e_o Our little bungalow is small.

Okay… it’s small, but not THAT small!!

So how small is it? Only about 720 sq.ft. on the main, with another 720 in the basement. 1440 sq.ft. of compact living… space that we’re working hard to maximize!

The fact of the matter is, small space living is becoming more and more common. So much so that talented designers are taking on the challenges associated with living in smaller houses and condos! Modular furniture designs, multifunctional spaces, and space-saving solutions are in demand by people like me.

As you can imagine, I keep my eyes open for ideas and solutions that might work in our house.

Recently I was surfing through Style at Home’s site and I came across an lesson-article on maximizing small spaces written by Canadian designer Kimberley Seldon. I’m a big fan of Kimberley so I thought I’d share her insights with our DesignTies readers:

Kimberley says: Built-ins and modular furniture units maximize storage and provide custom solutions for even the tiniest of spaces. The smallest rooms often end up as home offices and can benefit from built-in or modular furniture that effectively utilizes vertical and horizontal space.

Bookcases – either built-in or freestanding – provide valuable storage, contain clutter (essential in small spaces) and define the room without enclosing it. Each of these examples show how you can incorporate a home office into the cabinetry… it’s terrific how the desks in both these units just tucks away when you’re not using it – one hides behind a sliding door while the other folds up and away.

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In our little home, we’re on track with our own built-ins… when we renovated our primary bedroom, rather then build standard closets we installed wall-to-wall wardrobes filled with fantastic organizing features. These wardrobes are so large and functional that we don’t need any dressers… which is good because there’s only room for the bed in our space!!



Kimberley says: Streamlined furnishings, mirror and glass emphasize available space. In order to visually expand a room's size, designers and architects include negative space (the areas of emptiness that surround furniture) wherever they can. By choosing furniture with legs rather than skirts, incorporating glass where possible, and adding reflective elements like mirror, crystal and silver to an interior, you can amplify available light and space to create an expansive feeling.

Take a look at some of the examples I found…



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BTW… these are mirrored cabinets above the sofa… bling, the illusion of additional space AND extra storage.


Kimberley says: Monochromatic colour schemes visually enlarge a space. Monochromatic colour schemes, in which all colours are close in tone and value, do an impressive job of visually expanding a room. The reason? When there's no contrast (the strong distinction between two values like black and white), the eye is able to move through a room uninterrupted, which creates the illusion of additional space. Since a monochromatic decor also emphasizes the various textures within a room, it creates an overall mood that's restful and sensual.



Remember… monochromatic doesn’t mean you can’t use colour or pattern.





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rinarisa apartment 19 

Kimberley says: Multipurpose furniture creates flexibility within a space. Today, rooms are often required to serve more than one function. For instance, a guest may be temporarily housed in the living room or home office.

The most common piece of multipurpose furniture is a sofa-bed


A day bed-styled sofa – a comfortable, lovely place for a guest to sleep.

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A Murphy or wall bed is a great solution when a room has to accommodate an overnight guest. I love the way it tucks away discreetly until it’s needed.






A bench like this has multiple uses – it makes perfect storage, it’s a great place to sit and read a book and, of course a bench like this is a perfect bed for over-night guests.




We’ve got lots of rooms in our little bungalow where I’ll incorporate some of these ideas (and others I’ve been thinking about)… family room, laundry room, guest room, 2 bathrooms and my home office… of course we have to BUILD them first!!!



Kat said...

Beautiful ideas! I am bookmarking this page, I spy a few ideas I would love to incorporate. And the first example of the monochromatic room, that room is perfection to me. If I could find a place in there to hide all my books! Thanks for sharing these. Hope all is well with you Victoria. Kathy

One of my Hobby Blogs said...

yes I think storage is the real key to keeping small spaces appearing cluttered...

Jeannine | The Small and Chic Home said...

Beautiful pictures! As another small home dweller (my place is 785 square, I love to see stuff like this. :)

mrsben said...

Excellent review on 'Small Spaces', Victoria. Your wall-to-wall tower storage units, particularly make so much sense!

Another good source of examples are those you might find in a 'RV' (Travel Trailer) and cud incorporate into a compact design.


Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Love your built-in cabinets, Victoria! I like that last picture with the bench, too. Multi-functional is what I figure small spaces need. The mirrored cabinet wall is a great idea.

Greet Lefèvre said...

The wall-to-wall wardrobes are gorgeous! I filed these images! Thank you!


Unknown said...

More people are living together in these small spaces too.
Great post!


Homes Suite Homes said...

Oh these pics are fab, and your advice is great too! we are loving you blog, cant wait for the next post :)

Michelle said...

What a great post Victoria! Love the images you have shown. I have such a hard time editing my own house...these rooms make me think it's time to purge. My space isn't that small, but it just means it can hold more crap:)

There is always something going on at your house, isn't there??!! How exciting.


A Girl said...

Great tips!!

vicki archer said...

There are some great ideas here for small spaces...I love all these shots, especially the first one of the staircase. xv

Maria Killam said...

Excellent post and a good argument for more bling in the house!

Anonymous said...

I found that I was able to buy good family room furniture for a great price at the It was less costly than elsewhere

Susan said...

Excellent post. Beautiful images and small space tips. I have a small house too or as BF says a small beautiful house!

After 9 years in this small space I have finally come to terms with the fact that there is only one way to arrange my livingroom.

I absolutely adore the white room with the huge standing mirror. How lovely!

Marcus Design said...

LOVE these ideas!!! And Victoria, you already know that I am totally in love with the wardrobes in your bedroom, seeing another picture of them makes me happy!

Linda @ theLENNOXX said...

Victoria, this post is absolutely fantastic! So many tips and tricks, I totally agree with the monochromatic color scheme! Keep up the good work, I'm feeling inspired ;)

xo Linda

Elise Lowerison said...

These tiny spaces are inspiring! I can't believe what you've done with such little space to work with. And the tips, a great plus and enjoyment. I came across your post this afternoon while browsing interior design blogs and the topic of window treatment selection was very interesting to me. It is true that you must dress your windows appropriately to bring out their true beauty. Thank you for writing and as a special thanks to you and your readers, I would like to offer a 20% off coupon using this code upon checkout: BLG20.

Philippines properties said...

A home is where the heart dwells, with warmth and love within. Lovely decors of your home.

Paula M

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