Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Small Space, Big Living

Breakfast Nook off of Kitchen

Built-In for storage

Mix of Fabrics

You don't have to have a large space for big living. In today's world, it seems like everyone wants things to be big; Big houses, big kitchens, big pools, big cars; it seems the more space we have, the more satisfied we are. Large spaces can be grand and beautiful, but if you don't have those in your house, don't think that you can't live large.
The eating area in my home is a space that works well for it's size. It is a multifunctional space. It has a space for eating, watching tv, lounging and storage; this little room is working hard!! This eating area is right off of my kitchen; I don't have a large kitchen and I know people always tend to gather there, so I wanted to treat this space as a place that people could sit comfortably when we are entertaining; So I added soft furnishings. I also have a dining room so I didn't want my kitchen to be surrounded by 2 areas of the same function. I love soft seating in a kitchen!! A kitchen is so full of hard surfaces, cabinets, countertops, appliances, that I think it is a great juxtoposition. Plus what better luxury is there than to sit comfortably in your kitchen and enjoy a meal?
Since my kitchen is small, I wanted this space to have storage. When we first moved in, there was a wet bar in this space, hideous!! It had oak lower cabinets, laminate countertops, a sink, smokey tinted mirrors and a fluorescent light fixture!! (I heard a rumor that one of the previous owners had a hot tub in this space!!) Can you say 1973? I designed the built-in, pictured above, to replace the wet bar. It has lots of storage for my overflow of dishes and serving pieces(I will blog about this obsession later!!) and space for a hidden microwave, a tv and a little display. I worked with the existing lower cabinets from the wet bar, to save money, and had it painted the same color as my kitchen cabinets to tie it into the space.
You will notice, that this small space has: a dark color on the walls, a mix of trim colors (stained and painted), a mix of patterns, a mix furniture styles and multi functions. Most people will say this is too much contrast for a small space. I will now tell you why it works. A lot of people are afraid of painting a small space a dark color, they are convinced it will make the room look smaller. The opposite is true, especially if you have rich colored furniture. The darker color makes the walls recede, blurring the line of the rooms boundaries. If you have rich colored furnishings and go with a cool, light color on the walls, it will call attention to them, by the sharp contrast and make the room appear smaller.
The baseboards, window and door casings and archways, in the kitchen are all stained oak; The crown moulding and ceiling, in the eating area and adjoining kitchen, is painted the color of the cabinets. This mix works because the trim color at the top of the room is tied in by the height of the cabinets that are painted the same color. The wall color is dark, the same tone as the oak, so the oak blends in with the walls!! Good tip, if you don't like something in your room, like my oak trim, neutralize it with the wall color. It will call less attention to it!!
I have a mix of furniture, but the styles are all married by the fabrics. I think I will blog more about the furniture and accessories in this room tomorrow!!
Things to remember when decorating a small space:
-Think carefully about how you want the room to function and plan it out carefully.
-Don't be afraid of mixing styles or colors. Keep it simple and you won't fail (we will talk more about this one tomorrow)
-Think about adding non traditional elements to make the room multi functional (like my choice of a settee in the eating area).
-Storage is key in a small, functional space. Make sure the storage ties in with the architecture of the room and is kept neat, otherwise there is too much "visual clutter" in the room!!
-Keep the "visual clutter" to a minimum.(Will talk about this more tomorrow too).
-Lastly, don't be afraid of color; It can be beneficial to pulling a small space together and helping it live large.
Space is a luxury, think about how you can maximize your small spaces potential today!!


  1. I detest "visual clutter," too. Do you have _the wabi-sabi house_? Oh, is green a cool color? Forgive me, but I did not take color theory...

  2. Is the wabi sabi house a book? I am familiar with the term. Green can be a cool color or a warm color depending on the base color, ie a green with a blue base or a yellow base, etc... I will do a post about color hues in the future.