Small Space, Smaller Budget: Serious Solutions

>> Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My alternate title for this post was: How to make your space look and feel larger without knocking down a wall or getting rid of all your stuff. I've thought of doing both on many occasions. Before we moved into our beautiful home, we lived in a crapload of apartments of varying shapes and sizes. A few had only one closet. Needless to say, we have experience with creative solutions and an intense emotional attachment to this all-too-common issue.

I think many of you will agree . . . whether you inhabit an apartment or cape cod, condo or ranch -- chances are, you have space issues. So how do you make the most of the space you DO have without moving to the poor house?

#1: Make use of mirrors. They're not just for your own vanity anymore! Add space and depth to a room by reflecting light in all the right places. We have at least one mirror in most of our rooms. Want an ever BIGGER impact? Use two mirrors and face them toward each other.

Cost? $25.00 to $60.00 can get you some pretty spiffy ones.

#2: Play with color. (But not this one, specifically.) The best paint colors for opening up a small space are of the cool tone persuasion -- think blues, grays, greens. And usually lighter values work best. Those walls will just drift away -- or least push further beyond where they once seemed to box you in.

Cost? $30 for a can-o-paint.

#3: Add contrast and structure. Incorporate some rich wood accent pieces (dark-framed mirrors and artwork, even trim) or even architectural details, and that will expand the largening effect exponentially.

Cost? As little as $20 for a frame or a couple hundred for some fresh crown moulding.

#4: Create storage space if it's needed. Yes. I'll continue to go on and on (and on) about our new entryway coat closet. We had a little corner of an even smaller room (we're talking 4 ft by 2 ft), and we maximized our storage 1,000-fold by adding a shelf, investing in a cheap-o cube system, and installing a coat rod. Now there's more space in our living and dining rooms -- less of our stuff strewn across the ground.

Cost? Depends. But can be as little as $100 for an entire closet if you hunt around and use some items you might already have (like extra curtains).

#5: Make your furniture work for you. Storage benches abound at places like Target, TJ Max, and Home Goods. They're great for stashing anything, really. We use the one in our dining room to hide our many, many board games. Upstairs, our guest couch-bed (above) ALSO has plenty of storage, wherein we keep guest linens, pillows, and other random items.

Cost? $50.00 to $100.00 will get you a nice storage bench or cube. And we acquired our storage couch for a mere $225.00 at a local furniture outlet store.

#6: Think outside the box. Don't have a huge kitchen? Neither do we. In fact, we have so little space, we don't even keep our dishes in our kitchen cabinets. Some of you out there might think this is weird, but we keep all our gorgeous Fiestaware in our LIVING ROOM. See that tall bookcase-like shelf behind the couch? Yup -- all our dishes are inside it. It took a bit of getting used to, but after a while . . . it's become natural. And we have more space in our kitchen for actual FOOD.

Cost? Again, depends quite a bit on the size and scope of what you need to do the job. This case was a gift to us.

Yeah. We're lucky.

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