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How to deal with unique and oddly shaped spaces in your home


Published: 09/17/2012

by Catherine Fantauzzi

Small-space decorating is a hot topic in the GTA, especially because of the shrinking sizes of many of todays new homes. These smaller and sometimes oddly shaped spaces present unique challenges in decorating.
It is wise to follow the rules of smart interior design when decorating smaller size spaces, though don't be afraid to throw in a little creativity and flexibility regarding colour, room functions and other decorating elements. The objective is to make the most of every bit of space you have.
As always, start by answering a few important questions. How do you want to use your space? Do you work at home? Do you like to entertain? Do you need room for exercise equipment? How many people will live in the space? Are you a collector? Once you have answered these questions, you can move on to plan the small space. Here are some important things to keep in mind.

Measure twice, buy once: This is especially important if you are moving from a larger space into a smaller one. When shopping, have the dimensions of the house in hand, including door and window locations. Take an inventory of the items you already own before you buy anything new. Current belongings or new purchases might not fit in the new space.

Think vertical: The most underused place in any space is the two or three feet just below the ceiling. Instead of a three- or four-foot tall bookcase, consider a seven-foot one. If you can, mount shelves high up on the walls, over windows and doors, or above kitchen cabinets.

Stretch a small space with colour: Wall colour can breathe life into any size space. Experiment with paint because it is inexpensive and easy to apply. Use accent colours to punch up neutrals. However, the wood trim should be the same colour throughout. Flooring colour tones should be consistent for flow and unity.

Use layered lighting: Proper lighting is essential in any space. Layer light sources at different heights to give the illusion of a larger space. Combine natural, general, task and ambient lighting to create function and drama.
Elevate the ceiling: Hang vertical instead of horizontal artwork. Use tall items around a room, such as a high plant, sculpture or cabinet. Mouldings can make a ceiling seem higher if they are painted the same colour.

Create optical illusions: Mirrors reflect light and create a view, giving the impression that open space lies beyond and adding the illusion of size to a room. Glass allows the eye to travel around a room uninterrupted and helps lighten heavy furnishings. Objects placed on glass seem to float in space.

Use multifunctional furniture: Any piece of furniture that can do double duty will save space. Some pieces that are multifunctional can include sofa beds, coffee tables or ottomans with concealed storage, tables that can double for dining and work, and decorative end tables that secretly contain filing cabinets.

Think scale: Don't over-furnish or over-crowd a room. For an airier feeling, look for furniture that is in proportion to the space. A few carefully chosen pieces of furniture can actually make a room seem larger. Always consider traffic flow. Grouping furniture together makes the space feel more connected. Select artwork, lighting, area carpets and accessories with an eye to scale and proportion.

Use textures, shapes and patterns: Use a consistent pattern that helps the eye travel completely around the room. Use a variety of styles, shapes and textures to give a room personality and aesthetic interest.
Get organized: Elimi-nate clutter, it takes up valuable space. Install a closet organizer to maximize vertical space in closets. Choose furniture with drawers. Think of atypical storage places, for example, a storage unit built beneath a window that also can function as a window seat. Get space-saving items & stacking cubes, shelving and over-the-door racks.

Treat your windows: Simple is best. Cover a window with blinds or shades for privacy and light control. Extending drapery beyond a window frame can make a room seem larger.

Hire a professional: If you cannot understand floor plans or cannot visualize the scale of certain items within a small space, hire a decorating and design professional to assist you. Decorating professionals are trained and qualified to analyze the space and formulate design concepts that are appropriate, aesthetic and functional.  


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