Though she now calls Washington, D.C. her home, interior designer Zoe Feldman has experienced a tour of her own small-space living, up and down the East Coast.
There was the miniscule kitchen of her Sarasota rental; three space-challenging Manhattan dwellings (two with an added faux wall for even less living space); and a narrow Georgetown townhouse. So in addition to her training at Parsons and four years at a Manhattan design firm, Feldman always seemed to find herself in a real-world crash course on how to make the most of her space. Lucky for us, she's willing to share her secrets.
1. Invest in multipurpose furniture
A table that opens
to accommodate larger groups; nesting tables
that can be rearranged to suit your needs, and even the old, faithful pullout sofa
all rise to the top of Feldman's "Do" list. The same goes for a great-looking hollow ottoman -- Feldman suggests using it for extra seating or extra storage -- or an open bookcase,
which can act as storage unit and room divider, while still allowing light into the room. For smaller pieces (such as toys or magazines), look for pretty baskets; and if space still won't allow for that, hide clutter on a bookshelf ... just hang a great piece of art in front!
2. Make it monochromatic
Forget the crazy colors
, Feldman says sticking to one palette will help make the space look larger. If you want to add interest, she suggests adding an accent wall, which can also create depth -- just remember to keep the colors neutral. Another tip? Keep wall trim the same color as the wall but vary the finish just slightly. "Try a semi-gloss or a high-gloss on one and then an eggshell finish on the other," she says.
3. Make use of recessed space
Got an extra closet? Put it to use. "Take the doors off, and you have a great alcove," says Feldman, who suggests placing a TV in the space, adding a desk for a home office or even (if you have the room) recessing your sofa into the open space. Add floating shelves, and it will look more design element and less closet.
4. Mirror, mirror
Even the most novice home decorator knows that mirrors can open up a space, but Feldman suggests taking it a step farther. "Look for mirrored furniture
," she says. While heavy wood can weigh down a room, mirrored -- or even clear Lucite or glass -- furniture can reflect light and make the room feel light and airy.
5. Fake it
Elongate your space by making visitors see higher ceilings than might actually be there. How? Go tall. An extra-tall headboard can not only pull the eye up, but can act as a divider to hide extra storage. Vertical stripes painted on the walls
(or via wallpaper
) can have the same effect. On the other end of the spectrum, floor coverings should be bigger than smaller. A large rug in a fun pattern can make a room feel bigger and define your space.
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