Holly Welles is a home improvement writer and the editor behind her own blog, The Estate Update. She believes that anyone can create a beautiful space, no matter their living situation. Subscribe for weekly tips! And follow her on twitter @HollyAWelles
A smaller space isn't necessarily limiting. With an open mind and a dash of creativity, you can turn even the most cramped, compact room into a cozy, comfortable place to relax and stretch your legs. It's about taking full advantage of what you do have, instead of focusing on what you don't.
If you own or rent a home where you feel crowded, you might benefit from a few simple strategies for decor and design. We'll detail five, walking you through everything you need to know about clearing the clutter and making the most of your floor plan. To optimize your available space...
1. Start With a Clean Slate
One of the best tips to optimize your space is to empty it out and start from scratch. While it might feel a little overwhelming to carry all the furniture into another room and store all your decor, it'll provide an excellent foundation to build on. You'll have a far better idea of what you're working with.
When you're in the initial design stages, the furnishings in a room can dictate your choices, even if you're unaware of their influence. Your past decisions will inform your present ones, which is counter intuitive to changing and improving upon the space. A clean slate is far easier to manage.
2. Make Use of the Walls
Your walls are just as essential to your room's design as its furniture. Whether you add shelving with your favorite books, a framed painting or simple decorations which complement the color scheme, exploiting your vertical space will lend character and personality to an otherwise bland area of your home.
To provide just one example, you can replace a standing lamp for wall-mounted lighting. Of course, it's best to show restraint when deciding on decor. If you cover your walls in posters, banners, pictures and other embellishments, you'll end up making the room feel smaller and claustrophobic instead of larger.
3. Scale Your Furniture
Furnishing a smaller space takes a little extra planning, and your first choice of chairs, sofas and tables aren't always the best. You have to select furniture that is the right scale for your room, which often requires careful measurement and an understanding of flow. While this might sound complicated, it's actually easy.
With a few small adjustments, you can make your living space feel fresh and open. Just take a minimalistic approach to furniture, finding multi-functional pieces if possible, and leave enough of an area between them to allow for unobstructed navigation.
4. Add a Mirror for Depth
You'll bring depth to a small or dark space with the simple addition of a mirror, which will fortunately match with most interior design choices. Regardless of your home's aesthetic, mirrors will fit perfectly within almost any type of room, whether it's a bedroom, reading room, office or other area.
Mirrors are effective for a few basic reasons, easy to understand. Surfaces which reflect light create the illusion of depth, as a brighter space tends to feel larger, and the tasteful inclusion of a round or gallery mirror can give a smaller room the dimensionality it needs. They aren't just for checking your appearance!
5. Assess Your Routine
Of the 2,700 square feet which comprise the average home, 80 percent of the space rarely, if ever, sees use. It's an important statistic to consider when reviewing your furniture options, and it's best to remain realistic with decor when deciding on a room's design. Ask yourself — what's my daily routine?
If you don't eat at a table or never use an armchair, it doesn't serve a practical function within the space. Take a step back and assess your living habits, and if they don't align with your furnishings, you know which items you can afford to sell. You'll simplify your space and potentially earn a profit.
Again, a smaller space isn't necessarily limiting. As long as you follow the five suggestions above, your room will feel the perfect size, with furnishings and decor which accentuate its better features. When you take a strategic approach to design, you'll find you can do a lot with just a little.