Good things come in small packages: Tips for living big in your small space

Urban life can be a bit of a trade-off (or, depending on how you look at it, a big trade-off). While suburbs are generally known for larger homes and properties for a lower price, urban dwellings provide the comfort, community, and flair of a downtown address.

Many will gladly sacrifice one for the other, but I’m here to tell you that you can have your cake and eat it too. From an interior design perspective, there are ways to make a small room appear larger; As they say, perception is everything. Here are some tips for achieving an ingenious settlement, without sacrifices, and living big in your tiny home.

Maximize light and display

It’s amazing what a few windows can do, and fortunately for downtown residents, many of the city’s new condos feature window walls and open-concept floor plans that make the most of the two best features: light and views. This urban apartment recently designed by my team features large expanses of glass and stunning views that became an instant focal point for us.

In small spaces like this, a great view can help draw the eye toward the horizon to create the illusion of more space within a suite and make a small room appear larger. We made the view one of our main focal points by placing the living room area, facing the windows and leaving unobstructed views across the entire suite. You can sit and enjoy the view from anywhere within this main living room area.

The second “magnification” element that we’ll touch on is light. Natural light is a small room’s best friend, making a small room appear bigger and brighter. If privacy isn’t a concern, consider leaving the windows uncovered to make the most of the daylight. If you want to insulate the world when the sun goes down, get some window treatments, retractable blackout blinds, or streamlined blackout curtains that can be pulled out of sight by day, or pulled out on demand at night.

If it’s hard to get natural light into your space, make sure you get ample, evenly distributed ambient light. Ambient lighting is the “general” lighting in a room and is designed to mimic daylight. If your room lacks windows, consider adding:

  • Additional bowl lights
  • Ceiling-Mounted Fittings
  • Table or floor lamps
  • Distinctive lighting
  • Mirrors and other reflective elements

Play with color

one mkol rug

To help amplify the effects of natural light, use bright, neutral, and subtle colors to make a small room appear larger, which are more reflective than their darker, deeper color counterparts. Use light colors in everything that takes up a big visual shot in the living room – for example, wall paint colors, rugs, and large-scale furniture such as sectors.

Simplify with built-in items

one mkol rug

Furniture usually takes up valuable floor space and too many furnishings – even if you consider them “essential” – can make a room seem a lot smaller. Given the option, I always recommend including small spaces for two reasons.

First, built-in items often come in the form of bookcases, dressers, and shelves, which are great storage systems that can be hidden behind doors or panels, if desired. It’s also a great way to view groups and select items.

Secondly, since these “furnishings” are incorporated into the plans of the house, unlike additions, they become part of the house, merging into the house and disappearing completely. In my professional experience, these design features are usually highly desirable elements, and if they are not included in the interior design, they are often included later in the ‘dream home’ search.

Hint: Personally, I love using built-in shelves to help accentuate a focal point in a space. This type of frame helps to draw the eye in a way that is ingrained and subtle, but it also amplifies the feature and makes it feel much larger than that. For example, this fireplace surrounds built-in open bookcases painted white to become part of the mills. Then, adding function to the aesthetics, the homeowner uses these areas to store and display family photos, arts, and collections. The secret to the success of the design lies in keeping the screen simple and eclectic!

Embrace negative space

one mkol rug

In interior design, the negative space in the room is as important as the elements that fill the space. Negative space is empty space – those empty corners and bare walls that give your eyes a chance to breathe. The passive space also allows for more space so that residents and guests can physically maneuver around furnishings, people, and through traffic paths.

Since most downtown residents are likely to be limited in square footage, the best way to achieve negative space and free up more of that valuable breathing room is by modifying your furniture and unwanted items.

If you’re working with space (and stuff) that exists, evaluate each item and keep only the ones you really like and use. It really comes down to prioritizing your free and clear belongings and living, with minimal interior design to match. Simply put, less stuff means more space, which makes your small room seem bigger.

To get there, limit your furniture to basic items and multifunctional pieces; By multifunctionality, I mean ensuring that aesthetics are taken into account in your decisions. Choose tall furniture that you can see under or through, such as a sofa with thin legs and chairs. Also consider furniture and accessories made of glass and chrome that do not block light or obstruct vision.

one mkol rug

But you may ask, how do you add negative space without leaving the room looking unfinished? As an interior design professional, I am committed to purposeful design. This is how I approach each project, not just in terms of the elements I choose to add; I also consider empty spaces.

Look at traffic patterns and think about how you are using each space. Then furnish and accessories only as needed. Periodically review and evaluate your composition to make sure you’re striking a good balance. Do not overdo it. Remember: less is more.

The secret to great interior design is to strike a balance between what you want and what you really need. When it comes to compact urban homes, whether we’re talking condominiums, townhouses, or townhouses, they can all pack a lot into a limited floor plan.

In fact, if you’re looking for character and charm, an urban home might be the way to go, often telling a story at every turn. At the same time, urban homes can certainly pose some challenges, such as smaller rooms and less lighting. But, as they say, good things come in small packages.

With a purposeful interior design plan, and perhaps a professional interior designer guiding you through the dust of home renovation, you can also make your small room look bigger and maximize that mantra! It may take some thought and planning to uncover those hidden treasures.

Designed by Trisha Isabi, photographed by Trevor Cooper

Trisha Isabey is the creative director and principal designer of the award-winning Isabey Interiors. For more than a decade, the Kelowna-based design firm has excelled in creating carefully curated designs. Our in-demand design team provides a variety of design services throughout Western Canada and nationwide.

Looking for more design inspiration? Visit McCalls Carpet One Floor & Home at one of their locations in Franklin and Bellevue.

McCall’s first floor rug and home – Franklin

232 Franklin Street
Franklin, TN 37064
(615) 794-8707

McCall’s first floor rug and home – Bellevue

7809 Cole Davis Rd.,
Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 646-1118

%d bloggers like this: