Living Large in a Small Space on a Small Budget

Apartment interiorWhether you're living in a small space because of financial limitations, family size or are at a transitional period in your life, Andy Suvalsky knows how to turn a small area into a dream home for little money.

Suvalsky, an interior designer who's been featured on HGTV, in the New York Times and the Robb Report, believes that everyone's home should express both who they are and who they strive to be. Suvalsky shared his tips on living large in small spaces with WalletPop.Develop a Design Plan

Visually map out a layout goal. Check out potential furniture buys online to get the exact measurements. Then, use construction paper to cut and size the items to see how they'll fit together. "This will help you avoid costly mistakes of pieces that ultimately don't fit together or don't fit in the elevator to your apartment," Suvalsky said.

For extra small spots, double up furniture function to help save room and cash. A large coffee table can also pose as a dining table and he recommends buying a round-shaped one because it allows for more seating options. Suvalsky suggests hunting for a unique table base at flea markets and placing a ¼ inch piece of thick glass on top for a custom look.

Look Through What You Already Have

Before hitting the stores, start by shopping at home. After creating a plan, see what pieces are already lying around that could be reinvented and incorporated into your redecorated home. If older furniture needs to be repainted or reupholstered and you don't know how to do it yourself, hire a professional to do the dirty work. Spending a bit of dough to hire an expert may prove less expensive than buying a completely new piece.

Make the Entryway Stand Out

The entry way gives the first impression of your home. Even if you live in a small apartment, there's still room. Just scale down all of the items to make the most of the area. Suvalsky recommends incorporating at least one item that typically goes in foyers, such as a mirror, small area rug or tiny table or shelf. If there's room, throw in a seating element such as an accent chair or stool that can be added to the main area when guests visit. For spaces with more room to work with, incorporate a large decorative element such as a graphic picture or unique treatment to one wall. Avoid coat racks or exposed storage spaces that give the living space a messy first impression.

Create Strong Focal Points

Strong "views," as Suvalsky refers to them, create appeal, not only upon entering a home, but also as you move from space to space. It's important to use strong, statement pieces rather than TVs or tables that may collect junk and give the home a cluttered vibe. An interesting sofa or piece of art work great in these focal point areas. Pay extra attention to views from locations that are frequently visited.

Various Lighting Types Allow for Various Moods

Add at least one tall table lamp on one side of the sofa, or a pair of medium-sized to large-sized lamps on both ends, to anchor the seating area. Tall floor lamps create a column effect, which add variety to horizontal furniture clumpings. To save some cash, buy cheap lamp bases and spend a little more on visually appealing lamp shades. This rule applies to both floor and table lights.

Hook up as many lights as possible to dimming extension cords, which can be found in stores and on Amazon for less than $15. Dimmers allow for a variety of light combinations. "By playing with different lights being on and off, some dimmed, some brighter, you have an endless number of moods reflected and created," said Suvalsky.

Finishing Touches

Incorporate an interesting cabinet as a way to disguise a TV and its wires. Also, try mounting it on the wall among an art display. Either way, avoid having the TV be the first point of visual interest upon entering your home.

Camouflage a work space by using a long table, hiding behind a sofa. Otherwise, place the area against a wall that's viewed less than the others. Because desks are often cluttered with papers, select a desk with plenty of built in storage space. Adding a large potted plant, such as a tree, between a work area and the main living space will help separate the two.

Finally, Suvalsky encourages decorators to try using a themed touch to tie a space together. "A unifying element such as one style of picture frames, in one or multiple colors, on all the artwork throughout a space, reinforces a sense of scale being expanded," he said.
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