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How to Design for and Maximize Small Spaces

Ready to open up your small space? Here's how.

You may have a cozy room that looks a little too small; or, perhaps you are downsizing and want to figure out how to make your small space look larger. Here are a few tips and techniques for color and decor that will go a long way toward maximizing your space.

Light and uncluttered have been the standards for focally enlarging tiny spaces. That concept may be limiting to some and, now, you can make your space as bright and bold as you wish.

The key to using big bold colors, though, is to think monochromatic. If you love burgundy, it's all right to paint one or more walls in your favorite shade. Also, paint the baseboards and all trim in the same colors. Match up electrical outlets and switchplates as well. Then, as a final touch, add area rugs in the same color. It's when contrasting colors are used to break up lines - such as on door trim - that make a small place look smaller.

You do not have to eliminate all your favorite display items, even though you should remove as much clutter as possible. Instead of spreading it out, group your favorite collections in one spot. That keeps them contained, out of the way, and opens up the rest of the room.

Furniture often contributes to a cluttered look. Think about keeping one larger piece and one comfortable chair. Too many small pieces of furniture add to a busy look. Stackables and nestables are ideal in a small space. Purchase nested tables and just pull one or more out when guests arrive.

Instead of a dining table, use a bar height table and stools. They are more compact and will add height to a room. Four people can sit comfortably at a bar table; just serve food buffet style from the kitchen area.

When purchasing new furniture, look for see-through tops and sides. Solid tabletops create a perceived stopping point while glass or clear composites open up the room.

Sturdy baskets are indispensable. You can tuck things inside and it's easy to tidy up and keep off-season items tucked away. Square or rectangular baskets can also serve as makeshift tables. Top them with plexiglass to prevent spills from seeping through to the contents.

Do try to avoid large-patterned pieces and repeating patterns. Heavy fabrics add to coziness, which decrease the size of a space. Drapes will definitely decrease your space. Blinds in a color that matches the walls are less obtrusive.

For extra lighting, go mobile and upward. Taller items add upward sweep to a room. Flexibility is gained by the ability to move task lighting where it is needed most.

You never have to sacrifice your favorite design style for a small space. Work through the issues carefully and you'll know when it looks and feels right - for you.




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