Many of my clients who’ve purchased a condo in downtown Boston live in space that is smaller than they were previously accustomed, whether by choice or necessity. Some have traded sprawling suburban homes for ready access to the city lifestyle, which has meant significant downsizing to accommodate their budgets. Some of my first-time buyers have opted for the convenience (and fun) of urban living in a great neighborhood instead of a less desirable neighborhood in the city or a much larger home outside of Boston. Others simply wanted to downsize, streamline their life and minimize their footprint. Regardless, most are always looking for clever ways to enhance the space in their Boston condo and maximize every square inch. This series of posts on small space solutions may provide just the tips you need to help your small space feel more spacious. Keep reading my blog for ideas on hidden storage solutions, multi-purpose furniture, small-space decorating, and even appliances that are particularly well suited for small dwellings. These ideas will hopefully bring inspiration to your current home, a new home or one that you’re considering… or even to helping you prepare a property for sale.
Let’s get started with some decorating advice. Making a small room look bigger involves smart planning and “fool-the-eye” design choices. Here are some tricks of the trade:
- Keep areas beneath furniture free and clear to make the area feel bigger. The more floor space you can see, the bigger the room will appear.
Incorporate a light, warm, neutral wall color that will draw your eye all around the space and expand the sense of size. Light colored walls are more reflective making a space feel open and airy, which helps maximize the effect created by natural light. Also, consider painting your wall trim and moldings in a lighter color than your walls, which makes the walls appear further back and your living room appear bigger.
- Keep the flooring color the same from room to room to further the feeling of spaciousness. Similarly, remove area and scatter rugs. Unbroken floor space always makes a room appear larger. This even includes bath mats in the bathroom (these can be hidden until needed), which can make the room appear smaller by chopping it up.
- Create a focal point when decorating—one area or feature that will draw the eye. In the dining room, the focal point will probably be the table. In the bedroom, it will most likely be the bed. Make that focal point the star of the room. Arrange the furniture so that focus is drawn to that area, and keep the décor in the rest of the room to a minimum (and limit the number of accessories).
- Consider clear furniture. Glass or Lucite coffee tables, consoles, end tables and even chairs leave more visual space open.
- When furnishing a living room, for example, strike a balance between choosing pieces that look substantial but have sleek lines (skip the skirts on upholstered furniture and no rolled arms!). Substituting an upholstered ottoman for the usual coffee table is an easy way to sneak in extra seating, and a pair of petite armchairs can fit in the space of a single overstuffed version.
Let your light shine. A well-lit room always looks larger. Let in the natural light, which will instantly connect your room with the outdoors, visually extending your space. Also add plenty of attractive artificial light in the form of hanging fixtures, sconces and lamps. Be sure to place lighting all the way into the back corners of a space; nothing shrinks a room faster than poor lighting.
- Mount the television to the wall, eliminating the need for a piece of furniture to place it on. Work with a carpenter and an electrician to create a niche in the wall for the rest of the electronic equipment.
- Use mirrors to add the illusion of square footage. Mirrored furniture and framed mirrors reflect light and space and can be used to your advantage in a small room. Placing a mirror near a window to reflect the outdoors is especially effective.
Are you feeling inspired to be more creative and make the most of the space you have?