Close Quarters: Making the most of small spaces

In not-so-big homes, there’s a fine line between cozy and confining. Read on for designers’ top tips to tread on the right side of that divide.
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In not-so-big homes, there’s a fine line between cozy and confining. Read on for designers’ top tips to tread on the right side of that divide.
In not-so-big homes, there’s a fine line between cozy and confining

Minimize your halls and transitional spaces.

One way of conserving space is to make sure your design elements are serving double duty, says James Driesch, chief designer at Timberpeg, based in West Lebanon, N.H. For example, a staircase or a fireplace can reduce the need for interior walls if they function as space dividers, as well.

Focal points matter in smaller spaces.

“Use a focal point like a fireplace or a window wall at the far end of the room to draw people’s eyes,” suggests Driesch. “It makes the house feel larger.”

Maximize an open floor plan.

Good news: Airy layouts already feel bigger than they are. Driesch points out that having a combination great room, kitchen, and dining area is a good idea because those rooms can borrow a bit of space from one another when necessary. The best way to do this? Use the dining room as a transitional area, where it connects with the kitchen and the great room.

Eradicate clutter.

“Small homes should never feel too crowded,” says Sara Potaker, an interior designer and owner of Crested Butte, Colorado-based Ansley Interiors. She recommends keeping knickknacks to a minimum. If you want to display a collection, choose a few pieces and designate one area for it.

Keep the color muted.

“In smaller homes, we strongly recommend choosing simple wall colors,” Potaker says. “Nothing stark, but more natural to allow the space to feel larger.”

Plan your spaces out.

Potaker also recommends adding design elements to help expand your home’s usable space. “A wet bar in the family room will keep guests out of the working kitchen,” she says. Another example is a mudroom that can function as a casual entry, storage space, and coat closet.