From painting in light colors to putting a sink outside the bathroom, here are 10 clever decorating ideas and tips for small spaces.
1. Choose a Light Palette
For his 1,450-square-foot California cottage, designer Stephen Shubel created the feeling of more space by selecting a warm "French vanilla" color scheme. The walls and ceilings were originally dark redwood, and the floors were oak. "The first thing I did was paint everything white to open it up and make it feel better," he says. Interior columns create the effect of an enfilade toward the balcony, glimpsed between curtains.
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2. Place a Table Lamp on the Kitchen Counter
"Having a lamp on the counter makes the room more intimate," Shubel says. "And when you live in a house this size, you want the kitchen to be more than just utilitarian." Giallo Siena marble counters, an antique gilded lamp, and a pilastered Edwardian china cabinet exude intimate elegance. The photo is by Maryann Hayden. Architectonics hexagonal floor tiles from Waterworks. Bosch dishwasher.
3. Think Multipurpose
In the entry of his West Hollywood house, designer Mark Egerstrom built a Douglas fir gallery shelf cantilevered off the staircase - it doubles as extra seating for the glass-topped serving and dining table. "The table functions as an entry center table, a serving table, a breakfast table, and, with a linen cloth, a formal dining table," Egerstrom says. Iron-framed midcentury chairs are upholstered in Ralph Lauren's Clarkston Plaid. Vintage light fixture from Inheritance. Painting by Brian Grosdidier and Jay Shinn.
4. Forgo the Coffee Table
"Use small side tables instead of big coffee tables, which eat up a room," Egerstrom says. "Being able to move things around makes you feel less beholden and cramped." For his living room, Egerstrom designed the stump tables. Red plastic La Bohème stool by Philippe Starck for Kartell.
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5. Extend Rooms Outside
The wood floors of Egerstrom's kitchen extend out to a coordinated deck through glass shower doors, creating the illusion of a much bigger space. "Your sight line goes to the windows and the space outside, which makes the room seem much larger," he says. The walnut cabinetry was designed by Egerstrom and was fabricated by Gary Ferguson of Case and Grain with Glacier White Corian counters and custom inset handles.
6. Get Creative with Storage
To keep order in his small Brooklyn studio apartment, window designer Zach Motl came up with an innovative storage solution. "Those baskets under the bed are for electrical supplies and a hammer and glue gun," he says. "It's a toolbox, but spread out." Large photos by Alex O'Neill; small trio by Irving Penn. Parsons bookshelf, West Elm.
7. Make Use of Every Square Inch
Designers Bill Brockschmidt and Richard Dragisic's New York loft apartment is just 640 square feet. "We had to be inventive," Brockschmidt says, so they created a stair landing that can be turned into a bar and buffet for entertaining. In the dining room-library, a staircase leading to the bedroom loft incorporates bookshelves, and the landing doubles as a sideboard and bar. "All the glasses get stacked on the lower steps," Brockschmidt says. "Of course, that means we quite literally can't go to bed till we clean up."
8. Hang a Curtain for a Makeshift Closet
Upstairs, Brockschmidt and Dragisic installed curtains in the master bedroom to conceal bedside tables and a large storage area behind the bed. "The apartment is full, but not cluttered," Brockschmidt says. "There's a place for everything, but if you forget to put a sweater away or your shoes are on the floor, they don't look out of place."
9. Try a Sink Outside the Bathroom
In a 1,650 square-foot California weekend house that manages to sleep twelve, designers Kim Dempster and Erin Martin opted to take out a closet near the master bathroom, and put a corner sink in instead. "That's so you don't have to wait for someone to come out of the bathroom to wash your face or brush your teeth," Dempster says. A lacquered root table from Erin Martin Design proves that big furniture works in a small space.
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10. Turn a Banquette into a Guest Bed
In the dining room of the same California house, a banquette, with storage underneath, doubles as a guest bed. Ceiling lights from the Urban Electric Co. hang over an antique trestle table, paired with vintage captain's chairs.
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