More and more Kiwis are moving into smaller homes. Some are downsizing when their children move out; others are dividing their time between holiday homes and smaller city apartments. But how do you cope when you have less space than you are used to?
Start with colour. If the space you are decorating is painted or wallpapered in a dark colour, consider repainting in a light colour. Dark colours can look and feel cosy and welcoming, but they also make walls appear to close in, while light colours make a space feel roomy.
Vary your storage solutions. In a small space, excellent storage is essential, and doesn’t need to be expensive. A point to remember is not to have storage that is all the same size and height, as this will close in the room. Mix it up by perhaps having a book case, a sideboard and a blanket box. You can get heaps of things onto a bookshelf; sideboards have doors that close on your mess, and you’d be amazed how much storage a blanket box will provide (as well as doubling as seating).
If your couch has some room underneath it, there is no shame in using that space as storage if it’s not visible. Just be organised about it; store things in plastic lidded boxes to keep out the dust, and make that space really work for you. Similarly, if you’re addicted to magazines or coffee table books, why not pile them under the coffee table with spines facing out? The trick with this is to keep the top of the table clear, with perhaps one vase of flowers and one book at most.
Nothing clutters a room more than lots of little things on surfaces. If you like ornaments, search second-hand stores, junk shops and the internet for a cabinet to hold your treasures. It will create a point of interest in the room and keep your surfaces clear.
Go easy on pattern. If you have wild bright patterns on curtains or furniture, consider re-covering or replacing them with neutral furnishings. If that’s beyond your budget, you can tone down curtains by buying cheap lengths of calico and sewing them over the existing fabric. It’s time-consuming, but will make a big difference. Similarly, you can make inexpensive slip covers for couches out of neutral calico, then go crazy with bold bright cushion covers as accents.
Show the love. In a small space, you must be restrained. Don’t have anything in it that you’re just ho-hum about, fill the room only with things you LOVE. That way your collections will stay under control and you’ll always like spending time in the space.
Keep the floor in the centre of the room as clear as you can. Push couches, shelves and cabinets against the walls so that the visual lines aren’t cluttered.
Be self-controlled. If you buy a new piece of furniture that you love, don’t try and fit it into a room that’s already at capacity. If you put something in, you’ve got to take something out.