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Making the Most of Small Spaces

Make the most out of your space with these genius design ideas for small rooms

By Cynthia Rush

Decorating a small space you love can be exhilarating. Rather than mourning the square footage you don't have, celebrate what you've got.

Here are a few tried and true tips that will help you to make the most of your home's smaller spaces.

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Vicente Wolf Associates

Think Cocoon

Remember how secure you felt in your favorite secret hiding place as a child? A small space is more in proportion to the scale of the human body, and we often feel safer and more comfortable there. Even a small reading nook or window seat built into an otherwise narrow hallway can become a welcoming cocoon. Choose luxuriously soft, cushioning fabrics to upholster pieces of furniture you want to nestle in.

Look Up, Look Down

Stack vertically in a room rather than spread out horizontally. You can get an extra 100 square feet out of a child's bedroom by building a loft bed. Hide a laundry room behind a closed, invisible door in the wall area below a staircase. Heat-seal an attic to make it livable. Use spaces at floor level with simple storage shelves on rollers that slide beneath a desk or a bed.

Clear the Clutter

Every space feels bigger when it's not cluttered. Your senses need breathing room, so keep furnishings simple and accessories to a minimum. Certified interior designer Blanche Garcia advises her clients, "If you buy one new thing, put two old things away." You may have albums stuffed with family photos, for example, but don't feel compelled to display them all. Instead, pick out a few cherished photographs and have them enlarged and framed. Then they become personally meaningful art to hang on your walls.

Make Furniture Do Double Duty

There are many innovative designs on the market today that enable furniture to do double duty: A compact console attaches to a wall and folds out to reveal a desktop with computer plug-ins. With the push of a button, a wide-screen TV recedes into the console. A coffee table has legs that lengthen to the height of a dining room table. Hinged tops on ottomans, stools, and benches open up to make room for storage inside. Even a wall can be designed to be flexible, not static; it may fold like an accordion, slide on a track, or open and close in a way that alternately conceals or reveals the space it defines.

Extend the View

Stretch space visually. A view to the outside can enlarge the sense of space inside. Using color, such as placing a blue throw on a sofa positioned near a window that looks out onto blue water, is an easy way to accentuate the inside/outside connection. Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House, advises clients to consider removing the door that divides two rooms to create an unobstructed view from one area to another and a more natural flow between the spaces.

For more ideas, see The Joy of Small Spaces. Launch Slideshow.

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