Small spaces can present challenges and charm for interior designers. They can be a relaxing, Zen-like sanctuary if done right. However, when all your possessions are crammed into a small space, it can be difficult to feel relaxed and comfortable. It takes conscious effort to achieve the former rather than the latter.
It’s possible to live in small spaces and be successful. The trick is to trick the eye into seeing more space using three simple concepts: light, scale, and movement.
Scale it down.
It’s all about proportions when it comes to furniture for small spaces. If a piece touches the walls, up or down, it is too big. You can create a feeling of spaciousness by leaving a little space between your furniture and the walls to give it some breathing room. The exception to this rule is the bed. A queen placed between two walls creates a cozy sleeping space. ?
Avoid heavy and bulky items that take up too much space. A sleek sofa or chair, for example, will provide you with as much seating space as its bulkier cousins but take up less space in your living room. Hang it on the wall if you are looking for a big, bold piece of art (or a mirror). You don’t want to occupy valuable living space by putting it down on the ground.
Keep a low profile.
Lower furniture will give a space a sense of openness because it leaves more space above them. You can place a mattress directly on the ground or a loft bed in the bedroom. Living room: Show your Mad Men-style by using midcentury furniture that is low to the ground. If you prefer the romantic and elegant, 19th century furniture can be found with a low profile.
Show a little leg with lithe furniture.
It is about creating an illusion of more space by creating a feeling of movement and openness. Sleek furniture allows light and air to flow over, under, and around it. This makes the illusion that it is floating in space. Think mid-century modern pieces that are both low- and long-legged. The butterfly chair is a perfect example of soaring furniture.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
Mirrors can be used to increase the sense of openness in small spaces. Mirrors not only reflect light but also reflect the view, tricking the eyes into seeing more space.
Ditch the drapes (and rugs).
Mirrors are a great way to trick the eye. Even if curtains don’t completely cover the window, curtains block the eye from seeing outside. Drapes and curtains add “stuff” to the space. It makes the space more open and straightforward to remove them. Shutters, lightweight mesh, or cloth blinds are options for privacy. If curtains are necessary, you can use a bar that extends beyond the window’s frame to fully expose it.
Ditto rugs. Take a look at all the tiny spaces in this article. You will be surprised at how few people have rugs, or if they do, how minimal and simple they are.
White it out.
We are all familiar with white’s reflective properties. White opens up a space, making it feel light and airy, calm, and serene. This cloud-like effect can be enhanced by painting the ceiling and walls the same color. It blurs the lines between ceiling and wall, making it appear higher. White is also an excellent choice for small spaces that can quickly get cluttered. It simplifies the space and highlights the architecture. It’s why architects love white so much.
You can pair an all-white space with warm elements like wood or textured elements like a shaggy wool throw if you are concerned about it feeling too cold. You don’t always have to choose a white space.
Make sure you have clean windows
Clean windows let natural light flow into the room creating brightness that reflects off furniture and fittings. You can either hire a professional window cleaner to clean your windows or you can DIY.
Emphasize the vertical.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a tall shelf or vertical shiplap; any element that emphasizes vertical space within the room will improve the feeling of openness. It increases the sense of movement and flow.
Emphasize the horizontal.
It all comes down to creating movement. It’s like the leggy furniture that gives off a sense of dynamism or the mirrors that reflect light back into the room. Anything that makes a room feel larger will cause your eye to move in an organized and planned manner. I say “internationally and ordered” because a messy room filled with distracting elements can also cause your eyes to wander in an unorganized fashion.
Clear a pathway.
If you have a small space, it is natural to want to maximize it by pushing everything to the edges. If you bump into objects, this can create a feeling of claustrophobia. It is sometimes better to arrange furniture on one side of a room to move freely.
Use breezy fabrics.
Above: Lea Korzeczek (of Studio Oink) used reflective white floors and lightweight fabrics to maximize the airy feel of their cozy apartment in Mainz in western Germany. Photo courtesy Studio Oink, Earthly and Ethereal. Studio Oink: A Studio Makeover
Avoid heavy fabrics and fabrics that absorb light and weight your space. A lightweight material like linen can increase airiness, and the space will feel more open.
Above all, keep it simple.
Editing small spaces is all about maximizing space. A room will feel more cluttered if it has too many pieces, possessions, or patterns. You should avoid too many knickknacks or group them together so that they can be read as an installation. Art is the same. Keep your art on one or two walls. Avoid using overwhelming colors and patterns. If you are absolutely sure that William Morris-style wallpaper is essential, place it on an accent wall. The same goes for color. Paint a wall or a door only and stick with one shade. You don’t have to embrace all the colors.
You need to be disciplined with yourself and mindful of everything you do in the room. You can choose to wallpaper the accent wall of your room, but keep the rest simple. You don’t need a huge oil painting in your living space.
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