As the city living trend continues to rise, more and more condominium structures are being erected to meet the demand. This can only mean one thing… less square footage per unit, often leading to a less than perfect layout. How does this affect the proud owner of that pristine new condo? Usually this means that unless they have design savvy, they will run into challenges turning their space into a comfortable and functional home. The main issue more than likely has to do with furniture layout. In many cases, the living area consists of an open concept living/dining layout that usually only functions well as one or the other, rarely having enough space to satisfy both functions simultaneously. The kitchen is usually part of this living space, and depending on the layout, it can either relieve some of these space issues, with the use of a breakfast bar functioning as a dining area for instance, or it can certainly hinder the space in some cases.
Here are some decorating and design tricks that can do wonders in expanding your small space:
1. Opt for apartment-size pieces
Petrie Apartment Sofa, Crate and Barrel, $1799.00; Functional Coffee Table, BoConcept, $1395.00
From sofas to dining tables make sure that your furniture will fit the space. Very often homeowners get excited about a particular piece, not realizing that it will not fit. The key to success is to measure, measure, and measure. It’s understandable that you often only have access to a floor plan, making it more challenging to picture that particular sofa in the space, all the more reason to be more diligent when buying, thus avoiding costly mistakes. Apartment size pieces are specifically made to fit into small spaces, so chances are you won’t be disappointed. For instance, consider using an expandable dining table that takes up minimal floor space in its closed position, therefore recovering precious square footage.
2. Maintain an open floor plan
Armless Chair, Casalife, $450.00; Zite Bar stool, Urban Barn, $115.00
Aside from introducing apartment-size pieces it’s important that traffic flow is taken into consideration when furnishing a small space. It’s really rather easy to just opt for a sofa and a matching armchair; however, you need to ensure that both pieces fit! Are you still able to walk around the room freely without the risk of running into furniture pieces? Does your furniture layout provide optimal visual flow? If this is not the case, consider swapping your oversized armchair for a smaller chair with a low back, maybe even an armless version. If you have a breakfast bar, backless bar stools are a great option… they provide the seating you need, without taking up visual space. In the bedroom, rather than incorporating a bulky dresser, why not put your money towards a functional custom closet system instead? Chances are the cost between the two is comparable.
3. Use mirrors strategically
Metal Spiral Pendant, Union Lighting, $729.00; Square Mirror, Casalife, $1350.00; Reflection console table, Urban barn, $469.00
Mirrors are a great way to expand any space by reflecting light and visually magnifying the size of the area instantly. For instance, when placed in a small entryway a mirror can definitely infuse more depth, giving the illusion of a larger space. In a living space, perhaps leaning on a wall in the dining area, a mirror can really have great impact, and imagine the reflection of a trendy chandelier… it will brighten up the area and indirectly expand it. Another area to really consider is the bathroom and since windows are not usually present in this space, adding a large mirror over the vanity is a very effective way to visually amplify the area. If your vanity and toilet sit on the same wall, consider installing a large mirror over them that extends the full length of the wall… you will visually double your square footage in an instant.
4. Keep clutter in check
Canvas Home Office Storage, $22.00 to $64.00; Stacked Apothecary Jars, $34.00 to $49.00; Wood and Lacquer Boxes, $14.00 to $29.00; Test Tube Spice Rack, $29.00 - all products available at West Elm
Aside from bringing forth feelings of anxiety and tension, clutter is the chief culprit in making a space feel smaller than it actually might be. Keep your surfaces clean and minimal aside from a few tactically placed accessories, and you will be amazed at the impact this will make. This rule of thumb applies to every area, from your entryway, to your kitchen and bathroom countertops, to your living and sleep areas.
5. Make use of glass pieces
Vision nesting tables, $399.00; Spider Dining Table, $469.00 - all products available at Structube
Instead of a wood and solid surface coffee or dining table, introduce glass instead. The clear and reflective quality of glass can really help in expanding the space by providing uninterrupted flow. In addition, it will add to the modern, minimal look typically sought after in condo spaces.
6. Maintain colour flow
Benjamin Moore Paint Swatches: Gray Mist CC80, Natural Cream OC14, Revere Pewter HC172; Zenith pillow, Crate and Barrel, $49.95; Tira Glass Vases, Urban Barn, $32.00 to $40.00
Even if you’re an avid fan of bold colours, sticking to a really great neutral in a small space can do wonders to expand it. It allows the eye to flow through the space naturally, thus eliminating the otherwise choppy look often seen when too many colours are introduced. Although the occasional accent wall colour can certainly create interest when used correctly, keeping with one main neutral colour in the rest of the space is crucial, especially when there aren’t any natural breaks in the walls. For the colour lovers…decorate with bright and fun accessories instead, like pillows, art, or even fresh flowers.
7. Layer your lighting
Apple Glazed Ceramic Lamp, Casalife, $206.00; Cube Floor Lamp, BoConcept, $829.00; Double Shade Organza Pendant, Universal Lamp, $398.00
There is no better way to maximize the size of your space than to use multiple layers of lighting. Even when natural light is lacking, artificial light can really work to your advantage. Introduce floor and table lamps to brighten up those dim corners; add under-cabinet fixtures in your kitchen to provide better task lighting; hang a striking modern chandelier over your dining table. These are just some ways to introduce light to your space and absolutely elevate the mood at the same time. Rule of thumb…Make sure your overhead lighting is on dimmers to really add interest and drama.
As you can see, no matter how small your square footage might be, by following these simple tips you can be sure that your space will be nothing short of functional, beautiful, and definitely plenty larger.