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Small Spaces, Big Ideas: Living Large in the New Year
It is a small world after all, at least in terms of square footage. As rental costs continue to inflate in cities across the U.S., average apartment sizes have been steadily shrinking since 2006, according to a recent analysis done by Rent Café.
In 2006, new rental studios averaged 614 square feet, whereas in 2016 the average size was down to just 504 square feet.
If you’re looking for the largest cities (by population) with the roomiest square footage, you’ll mostly find them in the Southeast in cities like Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh. Today, the average size of a U.S. apartment is 889 square feet, approximately the size of the Oval Office.
But let’s skip the small talk and statistics; here’s a helpful mini-guide on how to live large in smaller spaces.
By starting with the floor plan of a room or your entire home, you can easily map out which furniture dimensions will best fit within the scale of your space, just as the artist Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde did for Sex & The City’s main character, Carrie Bradshaw. While we may not all be lucky enough to live in a luxury Manhattan apartment, there are a variety of creative ways to stylishly maximize your available square footage.
For instance, an assortment of smaller pieces can make any space feel larger. Stay well-rounded with oval-shaped designs, or go higher with a tall, compact media cabinet.
If you prefer a bigger-is-better approach, go for a few key substantial pieces to create a grand, spacious look.
Either way, the important thing to remember is to infuse your space with your own unique personality. Whether you prefer a matching aesthetic, or a more eclectic mix, you can't go wrong as long as it is a reflection of your personal style and taste.
One key to unlocking the potential of a small space is to think about everything that you do within it. Whether working, playing, eating, or sleeping, try to establish separate zones for each activity.
For example, a sheer curtain with a stylish pattern or a shelf unit stocked with your favorite books and collectibles can both neatly divide a room, while setting a unique, individual tone.
A flat-screen TV mounted on a media center can split a living area from a sleeping area, evoking a sense of separate “rooms.” Using visual stumbling blocks such as these forces the eye to take in a space slowly, giving the perception that it is larger than it actually is.
By placing a small carpet or rug underneath a sofa, you can add texture as well as to help better define your living space. A well-placed high console table or credenza can achieve a similar effect, establishing a warm focal center to your universe, while also providing essential storage.
"PIECE" & HARMONY
Visual continuity can help create a calm and pleasing atmosphere, while standout pieces can yield visual interest and pull the focus in a room.
To keep from overwhelming a space, choose subtle patterns that complement each other, then punch it up with a showstopper piece or a pop of color.
Corner pieces effectively make the best use of limited square footage and establish a cozier vibe. Embrace split personalities like a coffee table that can be used for dining; a console that doubles as office storage; or a storage bench that provides seating as well as housing for blankets and other items.
Be sure to lighten things up by using lamps in corners to eliminate dark recesses and make the space appear larger. Track lighting, pendant lamps or wall sconces can help save on valuable floor and table space, leaving plenty of room for essentials.
Another easy way to open up your living area is to go vertical. Utilize available wall space all the way up to the ceiling with vertical shelving that leaves behind a smaller footprint.
Lighter colored furniture can also help to open things up, and reducing what you have on display can give you plenty of breathing room.
Floor-to-ceiling window treatments trick the eye and draw attention upward. Go ahead and aim even higher by painting your ceiling as well, diverting the eye up, up, and away.
The sky’s the limit.
Glass surfaces can help to make a place feel airy and less cluttered. Large traditional coffee tables can feel downright monolithic in a smaller space; consider instead a series of smaller tables with glass tops that can be easily shifted and rearranged for better traffic flow.
Furniture with legs will also feel less heavy in a room than furniture that sits directly on the floor, plus you have the added bonus of storing or displaying stuff underneath (or providing a quiet napping nook for a furry family member).
GO SMALL. GO HOME.
Sometimes the best way to highlight a small space is to do it with gusto. For instance, a cohesive collection of prints can turn a narrow entry hallway into your own salon-style gallery; after all, home is where the art is.
Big canvas paintings, particularly ones featuring receding colors such as green, blue or violet, make a space appear larger. And of course a well-placed mirror can literally double the size of your space and perfectly reflect your style.
No matter the size of your space, a few of these tips can help ensure that your small world is a great one after all.
Do you live in a small space and have tips that you want to share for how you maximized your diminutive square footage? Share them in the comments section below!