Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Decorating a small space

A number of steps can be taken to control or r...Image via Wikipedia
Small spaces can be
made to look big using light
Many times it is asked how to achieve a comfortable and spacious feeling in a room that is small. Though a challenge, the ability to maximize on the limited space can be achieved if you follow certain common sense rules. Most people will tell you the problem room in their home is often odd shaped, small and low light. These issues will be addressed to help you reverse that feeling, since the space isn't always possible to enlarge.

Odd shaped rooms
Odd shaped rooms are particularly challenging when a homeowner tries to decorate and furnish it. One key thing here to remember is the actual definition of the room. Rooms should always be defined by primary use. This doesn't mean it can't function as other things but the primary function of the room should be evident and prioritized. That being said, odd shaped rooms have to be treated like any room. For example, an "L" shaped room needs to be decorated as if it is a rectangular shape, since the predominating shape is still rectangular. The odd remaining space could be sectioned off, partitioned, or used for the secondary function the room may serve. By defining the primary shape of the room, you can focus on the positives and give the room a personality that overcomes the odd shape.

Rooms with little light
Most all rooms have at least one window. If the window affords little light it is a real challenge to bring the feeling of natural light into the space. Even in low light conditions, there is always usually one source of light occurring in the room. To find the direction of this light, look for items in the room that cast a shadow, the light source will be coming from the opposite side. This is best done in an empty room during the day with no lights turned on. Once you have determined where the source of light does emanate from, there are a few things you can do to capitalize on it. If your walls are in good condition, choosing warm semi gloss creams on the wall will bounce what available light there is.

Placement of mirrors in the rooms where they may reflect and bounce light is a good strategy as well. Don't think just because an area of a room is darker that a mirror won't work, in fact many times this is just what it needs. Mirrors and semi gloss paints bounce light around, forming criss-cross patterns throughout the room. If your ceiling is smooth, paint in a high gloss paint, which affords the most reflective ability. This will cast light downward into a dark space and also work with the other light that is bouncing around, real and artificial. If your ceiling is the standard "popcorn" ceiling, if possible, scrape smooth as this is well worth the trouble.

Small rooms
All the above plus this- always consider function, comfort and scale with small spaces. Once you have the function of the space defined the next question to address is the comfort needed to use the space. For rooms that are used only occasionally, comfort can be sacrificed a little in the name of visual appeal. If the room will be used daily, comfort takes the lead in the priorities and therefore, scale of the pieces need to be considered. With all cases of small spaces, you have to have the right scale of furniture to make the room comfortable and livable. Consider love seats instead of sofas, ottomans (with storage) instead of coffee tables,nice trunks are also smaller in scale and work nicely in a small space.

Consider floor lamps instead of end tables, and keep clutter to a minimum. Keep in mind that even if the floor space is limited, you can always maximize the vertical spaces in the room with shelves and shelving units. Sometimes the best way to maximize floor space is to look "up". The walls are also an important way to get storage. Just be careful not to cause too much visual clutter. One way to reduce visual clutter is to disguise it by storing them in similar items like matching baskets, canisters, etc. The eye sweeps across "like" items and always seeks out things that stand out. By minimizing what "stands out" in a room, you literally give the impression of more space.

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