Wish you had more elbow room? Of course you do! You could always move (You can afford it, right? Right.) or you can just help your rooms work a little harder. Think smart furniture, savvy design and a little McGyvering and you can “grow” your small spaces without ever leaving home.
Pack a punch: We know it’s totally counter-intuitive but the smaller the space the bigger you can go with color and shine. That bright fuschia that would drive you nuts on the living room walls? Just the thing for that blah little nook under the stairs. Bedroom too small? Dress it up with lacquered furniture. To get started choose one “statement piece”--it could be a piece of furniture, a rug or art--and use its color inspiration to tie the space together. The bottom line: amp up the volume and the room will feel both bigger and more important.
Save by the inch: A surprising amount of real estate can get gobbled up by small mistakes. Two sofas that have the same seating capacity, for instance, can occupy dramatically different amounts of space; a cabinet with doors that swing wide needs more room than one with doors that fold back; a hanging lamp can shed the same light as a bulky floor lamp without taking up square footage on the floor. When in doubt avoid upholstered furniture with rolled arms and overstuffed backs and watch out for pieces that need a lot of space to function.
Double identity: Why go for a one-note wonder when you can have the whole band? We all know sleeper-sofas, but how about a storage ottoman that also serves as a coffee table? Or a stacking set of small stools that can be used as tables when friends are over? Or a dining table that seats six when extended but folds down to credenza size when the dishes are done? Mission possible.
Pizzazz: A teaspoon of spice can make a recipe, a great piece of jewelry is all you need with little black dress, and it’s the same at home: bold hardware or a single big piece of art can wake up a small room. Keep everything else simple and then go all out with a couple of show-stopping details. Small room, big personality.
Trick the eye: You can expand your room’s visual horizons even if you’re locked into stingy square footage. Look for transparent pieces such as glass coffee tables and etageres, upholstered furniture with slim legs and no skirts, and narrow or demi-lune side tables, and for an extra boost hang mirrors to bring in the light. Looks can be deceiving—and we love it.