Tag Archives: small space living

Create big impact in a small space

How to create big impact in a small space

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How to create big impact in a small space

Small space living has been a growing trend for quite some time with soaring real estate prices and people trading in size for location. Existing in forms such as tiny houses, micro apartments and simply smaller-scaled homes, finding ways to best design and maximize our space is all that more important. The idea of working with a small square footage is often daunting as it’s difficult to find the sweet spot between both form and function. And, in these challenging times, we rely on our homes more than ever to house our possessions, keep us sane and balance our emotional ethos.

Custom solutions

One of the most powerful ways to maximize a small space is by going custom. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, custom solutions (like millwork and drapery) are tailored to fit any space. With storage often being a challenge, incorporating floor-to-ceiling millwork uses a smaller footprint compared to freestanding pieces that can just add weight and take up room. In addition, custom millwork can be designed in any style to add depth and detail along with hiding clutter. Homes with children benefit especially from hidden shelving. Custom drapery is another way to elevate and add volume. By hanging drapery high at about one to two in. below the ceiling, it creates the illusion of heightened ceilings, lengthening the room and drawing the eye upwards. In a small space, custom is worth the investment.

Scale and proportion are critical components in small space design. When furniture and decor shopping, our brains often equate smaller items with smaller spaces… but this isn’t always the best solution. The more “things” that exist in a space the more cluttered it can look. Instead of opting for multiple arm chairs and an apartment sofa, sometimes a larger custom sectional is the better choice as it can create the illusion of a larger footprint. A common design mistake we encounter at Louis Duncan-He Designs is seeing clients with area rugs that are too small. Even in a large room, having a rug in the wrong scale tells us to “live” within that limited footprint as it dictates the overall usable space. The same line of “go big” thinking can also be applied to color. Don’t be afraid to scale up! Painting or wallpapering an entire room instead of a single wall helps define the space instead of splitting up an already modest room into even smaller sections. Going bigger in scale can lead to more confident and impactful designs.

Multi-functional and creative

Multi-functional is the name of the game when working in a limited area. An ottoman can extend seating, serve as a coffee table and create a focal point with the simple addition of a tray. Multi-functional furniture offers flexible performance and has since evolved to include transformative pieces which can quadruple your capacity within the same footprint. Companies have already done the heavy-lifting to create innovative pieces so make sure you’re taking full advantage of what’s available today. After all, one of the biggest goals for compact living is to find creative ways in maximizing space.

I repeat, a small space does not have to be an obstacle for good design. Larger spaces may allow for more room, but can also equate to more spaces to design. This can be daunting, labour intensive and expensive to perfect. Instead of thinking of it as a hindrance, see a small space as an opportunity to explore your imagination. Set guidelines can force us to think more clearly and beyond our creative comfort zones. With the aid of a creative compass, an artist can often create more impactful work when provided with the right parameters. And just like an artist, sometimes working small can lead to the biggest rewards.

Designer Louis Duncan-He is Creative Director and Principal of Louis Duncan-He Designs. This Calgary and Montreal boutique design firm offers complete residential design services throughout Canada. With a distinct timeless perspective, the company creates unified authentic designs.


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A well-designed plan avoids clutter

A well-designed plan avoids clutter

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A well-designed plan avoids clutter

Small space living can be wonderful, but it does require some creative thinking. While you may feel that you have compromised on your square footage, this doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style, comfort or the functionality of your home.

Our clients reached out to us shortly after moving into their new condo in the heart of the city. Falling in love with the unit’s massive amount of natural light and a fantastic location was easy, but making this small space feel inviting and functional proved to be a bit of a challenge.

There are many tricks of the trade that can be implemented when designing for small space living. We started with a calm colour on all the walls, Benjamin Moore’s Silver Satin, which is very light and airy, nowhere near as stark as a white can be. Keeping the rooms consistent and even toned can trick the eye into believing they are actually more spacious, while adding punches of colour and texture keeps it from appearing flat and ordinary. We accented the small, open concept living room with a simple, well-scaled, sofa and introduced these small, but beautiful caned chairs for extra seating and great texture. A glass waterfall coffee table was the perfect piece to complement this space. I love using glass in small spaces, especially when you are afforded so much natural light. It’s a great way to keep the light moving throughout and emphasize the spaciousness of your room.

In the adjacent dining room, we repurposed the client’s existing dining table, adding some freshness to it with new upholstered dining chairs. We designed a custom built-in bar which not only provided much needed extra storage, but also camouflaged an unsightly wall of oddly positioned bulkheads and alcoves that at first glance made the space appear much smaller than it really was.

We continued the soft shades of blues and greys into the kitchen, highlighting the simple white cabinetry with a beautiful eye-catching, yet calm, marble backsplash and then punching it up with black pendant lights.

Another little space-saving trick for small spaces is to use pocket doors instead of swing doors. In this condo, we opted to further enhancing the space by adding a barn door. Not only did it afford us much needed space for storage in the master bedroom, it also created a great focal point in a rather long, narrow and uninspiring hallway.

Small space living can be fabulous, stylish and inviting. However, the key is to have a well-designed plan, well curated pieces that complement the space and functional storage to avoid clutter. With this in mind, you are on your way to creating the “small space” home of your dreams.

Some tips to get you started:

  • Edit and de-clutter, one of the first things that makes a space appear small is clutter. Make sure you have functional storage and a proper space for everything.
  • Multi-functional furniture is a great asset in a small space, a coffee table that converts to a desk, or shelving with a hidden desk for example; select wisely and make every piece count.
  • Think vertically to maximize storage and not lose valuable square footage on the floor.
  • Don’t clutter the floor space with a mish-mash of small furniture pieces, selecting a few well-scaled pieces or even an oversized piece can actually make the room feel larger.

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.

@LindaMazurGroup


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