Guest Blogger +1K, Entry #2726, August 8, 2013
We’ve all come to realize that less is sometimes more — and this applies to more than just your sugar intake. If you live in a small space, or are interested in the “tiny homes” movement, which advocates simple living in small spaces, read this article for ideas on how to maximize your living space so that you get more out of less.
One of the best ways to get more out of your living area is to look beyond the walls of your home. There are countless ways you can embrace the outdoors as part of your living space. Why eat indoors? Have dinner on your patio, watching the sunset. Friends over? Don’t bore them with TV in your small salon; instead, fire up the barbecue and make the most out of your backyard. Some homeowners may be hesitant to bring some of the daily tasks outdoors — what will the neighbors think? But, if you spend a little time, a bit of effort and, of course, some money, you can create areas out of the public view. For example, awnings, screens, hedges and fences can make a virtual room abutting your house. Retractable patio awnings will even provide a roof for your outdoors room, should it rain or snow while you’re enjoying your fresh-air living room. But you’ll still be able to watch the stars at night from the comfort of your all-weather recliner.
Image via: Andre Laurent
If you’ve just moved into a home and are suddenly wondering about the wisdom of placing both your overstuffed couch and your media center in the confines of the living room, don’t despair. It may seem like an obvious fix, but rearranging the furniture can do wonders to open up an area. It may take a few tries to get things right — and it may be frustrating at first — but often you have to experiment with the space until you find the best, most space-friendly plan for your furniture and appliances.
Use Color Wisely
Color also plays a role in how the eye sees a space. Generally, if you have many dark colors in a room it will seem smaller. But if you use lighter colors, you’ll open up the room and make it seem less cramped. Sticking with one color theme in a room will also help widen it in the viewer’s eyes: this is why hotel rooms often stick with monochromatic décor. Another tip: If you are living in a home with low ceilings, try painting the ceiling a few shades lighter than the walls; this should provide the illusion of height.
Mirrors Trick Your Eyes
For more illusionists’ tricks with your living space, embrace the use of mirrors. Well-placed mirrors can make our eyes “forget” a wall, as long as the mirror reflects a light source or window. Before you start plating each of your walls with mirrors, however, think about how sunlight enters your home at different times of day. Be careful not to place a mirror so that it reflects the sun’s first rays straight into your eyes while you’re eating in the breakfast nook. If you’re concerned about your budget, you needn’t shell out cash for huge, expensive mirrors. Even mounting a few smaller mirrors in frames found at garage sales or thrift stores will still help bring light and space into your home.
Image via: Amy Lau Design
Glass Elements Take Away Barriers
Assuming you don’t live in a home with inquisitive toddlers or boisterous canines, incorporating glass elements into your décor will also brighten and widen your space. Replace your heavy wooden coffee table with a glass-topped one; switch out the partition between the kitchen and dining room with glass blocks or a sliding glass door; minimize the crowding effect of book or curio collections by placing them in glass cabinets or on glass shelving. Adding glass bowls or vases to standing tables or windows also helps refract light and can be pleasing in a small room.
Be Smart About Furniture
Truly small spaces — again, think about the tiny homes movement, in which a whole house’s floorplan has usually less than 500 square feet — need to multitask. Beds, and possibly seating areas, should have storage underneath them; desks and tables that fold up when not in use can convert a rec room into a study area in seconds flat. While it may take some time to source furniture that helps you save space in these ways, it is possible to find it, have it made or even make it yourself as a weekend project.
About the Author: Zelda Martens once lived in a tent for a whole summer in her youth. Since then, she’s been obsessed with the way people view and use their living spaces. An architect and interior designer, she lives in Northern California in a home she built.
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