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Style Magazine

Nesting in Small Spaces

Feb 25, 2014 08:47AM ● By Style

Photo by Brian Kellogg Photography

With spring arriving soon, many of us look to organize and balance the items we’ve collected.

In smaller quarters, this may mean mixing styles, colors and unmatched elements, which can ultimately create a space that reflects the real you—just follow these simple guidelines.

Maximize Your Floor Plan

1. Multitasking furniture pieces. Free up precious square footage by getting creative with your furniture’s purpose. Rearrange a bed so that the longer end is against a wall to create a daybed effect that is functional for sleeping, as well as for a cozy hangout area.

2.  Nimble pieces. Select pieces that can be agile within your space. Flexible elements—such as stools, trays, ottomans and side tables—can be easily moved around and multi-purposed for additional seating, night stands, small desks and serving tables. Don’t be afraid to add handles or casters to pieces for maximum flexibility.

3. Create a symmetrical layout by centering heavy pieces on a room’s perimeter, in order to create an anchoring sense of order. Flank a sofa by matching bookcases to offset the visual weight of a piano or fireplace. You can make a compact room feel much bigger by choosing fewer large, bold pieces instead of several smaller furnishings and accessories.

4. Lighten up. A special table or floor lamp gives a room instant style and ambience. You can get a lot of task light out of lamps in a small room without needing much overhead light. The most beautiful fabrics and artwork are useless if they’re hidden in darkness!

Claim Your Colors

5. Identify your palette. Begin the color selection process by pinpointing your favorite objects in the space. Pull color from rugs, artwork, furniture, fabrics and accessories to create your personal palette. A small space isn’t a place to have high-contrast, jarring color and patterns; go for color, but keep it all in the same tone.

6. Unify opposing pieces. A coat of white paint can pull together clashing woods or colors. Paint accent pieces to complement each other. Harmonizing shades keeps a small space from looking too busy.

7. Paint smart. A very pale hue bounces light around just as white paint would, but also adds a colorful element to create the appearance that tiny confines are larger. If you prefer darker tones, take the wall color onto the ceiling or use a shade that’s two or three shades lighter than the walls on the ceiling to keep the contrast levels down.

Storage Solutions

8. Box it up. Bulky items like sheets, blankets and off-season clothing can easily slide under the bed in dust-free boxes when not in use. Colored or fabric-covered boxes can conceal items while decoratively perched in bookcases.

9.  A little fabric. Wall-to-wall drapes can expand their use while cleverly covering floor to ceiling open shelving and architectural eyesores.

10. Concealed cabinets. Doors can hide file boxes and day-to-day functional items, while open shelving can display decorative books and collectibles. Personalize pre-fabricated cabinetry by staining or painting the doors. Upholstering the front of cabinet doors with padding, beautiful fabric and nail-head trim is another appealing option.
Remember, while a diminutive room has the potential to be a “jewel box” in your home, you really have to be detailed when decorating it—everything becomes a focal point. The eye travels quickly around a small room, so you want each piece to have meaning and impact with your own personal touch.

Kerrie L. Kelly is an award-winning interior designer, author and multimedia consultant. She has authored two books: ‘Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide,’ published by Oxmoor House, and the newly released ‘My Interior Design Kit,’ with Pearson Professional and Career Education. To contact her, visit or call 916-919-3023.