Want to make your small space seem bigger? Try shelving, mirrors, paint job

The Canadian Press ~ The News
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

TORONTO Whether theyre moving into dorms or sharing off-campus housing, students living away from home are facing an additional challenge beyond juggling the books: how to cram all their clothes, furniture, gadgets and other home comforts into smaller surroundings.

TORONTO Whether theyre moving into dorms or sharing off-campus housing, students living away from home are facing an additional challenge beyond juggling the books: how to cram all their clothes, furniture, gadgets and other home comforts into smaller surroundings.

Its a dilemma familiar to the growing number of condo dwellers as well as empty nesters and retirees looking to downsize from larger homes.

But living within tighter confines doesnt need to feel suffocating. Experts say little extras from storage to shelving and even a new paint job are among the ways to spruce up and get settled in less spacious surroundings.

But before moving anything in, small space dwellers have an obvious but important task: assessing the dimensions of their digs.

Susan Brown, owner of British Columbia-based Blue Skies Organizing, said people often have a hard time letting go of their belongings. As a result, they make the mistake of trying to keep most or all of their current items.

It prevents them from being able to live in a new space really functionally and have it esthetically pleasing as well, she said.

What you have to do is just look at it from the other tack and say, What will this space hold? she added. Then from that, you go into your own home and you start shopping your home.

For example, Brown said if you have a dinner service for eight but dont have storage space or the room to host a large number of guests, downsize your dishes by half. Same goes for pots, pans and books, she said.

After youve earmarked the items you want to keep, purge the rest. Brown suggests donating them to charity or holding a garage sale and giving the cash to a good cause or using it to buy a downsized piece of furniture.

If you look at it that way, its sort of an opportunity to help others, to perhaps buy yourself new things with the sale of your old and to start living in your new smaller space with just the right amount of things in it so that its a pleasant place to come home to.

Sandi Gerrard, president of the Canadian ReDesigners Association, suggests avoiding overstuffed pieces when looking at sofas and chairs and instead opting for items that are small-scale, streamlined and multi-purpose like a daybed, futon or fold-out bed.

She also recommends doing what you can to maximize vertical space.

Anything that you can put on the wall to free up floor space will help make your room feel bigger whether its open shelving or hooks on the wall, said Gerrard, owner of Feel at Home Interior ReDesign.

Open shelving gives individuals lots of flexibility because they can get baskets and bins on the shelves to store various items like belts, scarves and hats, Gerrard said. Floating shelves can easily be bolted to the walls with blocks in between.

Hanging lights or wall mounted lights that direct lighting onto the wall surface will also give the illusion of larger surroundings while freeing up more floor space, she said.

Brown said the seldom-used space between the top of a door and ceiling could be a spot to install a shelf to place a couple of books, a vase or other display items.

Wall-mounted tables with fold down leaves or wall-mounted laptop stations are also a great way to create eating and study spaces that can be tucked away when not in use, said Madeleine Lowenborg-Frick of Ikea Canada.

Underbed storage or box springs with built-in storage are good ways of using typically unusable space, she added.

Mirrors can also help to visually amplify the area of a room, Gerrard said.

If theyre positioned in such a way that they reflect light from a window or that they reflect something beautiful to make the room look like its larger than it is, that will help.

As for colour, Lowenborg-Frick said light hues for walls and furniture are always best as dark colours absorb light and can close in a space.

Keeping paint colour light doesnt necessarily have to mean boring and beige, Gerrard said.

It can be a nice cream shade, pale yellows, pale blues, pale greens, she said. Sometimes painting the ceiling in the same tone as the wall can help, too, because (with) a stark white ceiling, your eye is drawn to it and it immediately shows that theres just the small space.

Organizations: Blue Skies Organizing, Canadian ReDesigners Association, Ikea Canada

Geographic location: TORONTO

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments