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(MCT)—High-rise uptown condos and strands of suburban apartment communities continue to be built, proof that bigger is not better for everyone.

And home furnishing companies are catering to this expanding market. As a result, consumers can fit lots of new comforts into a modest footprint.

With a smart approach to design, smaller spaces can be efficient, elegant and welcoming, experts say.

Here are some of their tips for making even the tiniest small space something special.

Scale Down:

Sleek, clean lines and simple designs do better in small spaces, says home design and staging expert Wendy Field, owner of Field Consulting in Charlotte, N.C. The improved futon Beddinge sofa bed from Ikea (starting at $279) has that uncluttered look that keeps a room feeling spacious. Smaller appliances might also be the best choice. Refrigerator drawers can be built alongside the lower cabinets. A small washer can be stored in a closet.

Make Everything Multitask

Use tables and chairs in different shapes and sizes. Some pieces can transition from dinnertime buffet to office or homework space. Choose a small chest of drawers for a bedroom nightstand for extra storage. A coffee table should also have storage.

Choose Movable Pieces

Ottomans and chairs or a guest bed can be in the middle of the room one minute, then pushed against the wall the next to make room for more people or games. For example, a one-bedroom Charlotte condo has a small galley kitchen that opens to the living room. The stools can be used for seating or as side tables, says designer Cathy Diel of Diel Design & Interiors. Many ottomans also have storage areas.

Use Vertical Space

Preventing clutter is a challenge in a small space, says Jennifer Foresman, senior manager of trend and design. Shelves and cabinets can conceal personal items, as well as the bed when it’s not being used. The same approach to keeping things tidy can be used in an office.


It makes sense to spend a little more to dress up a powder room or tiny kitchen, because pricy materials will be used in small quantities. Use high-end flooring, wallpaper or marble that you could not afford in a large space, says Foresman. Las Vegas designer Taylor Borsari decorated a powder room with silver-leaf pattern on limestone tile from Walker Zanger. The sink is concrete.

Be Bold

Color is the least expensive way to dramatically change a room. Vibrant tones are fine for a small space, Foresman says. Contrasting colors can have a huge impact, giving a room dimension or drawing the eye to architectural details. Diel recommends limiting the palette to two or three colors. A wide stripe behind the bed can make the ceiling feel taller.

An Efficient Footprint

Fewer formal spaces: Open floor plans are well suited to small spaces. The idea is to use every space in as many ways as possible.

Offices absent: Laptops and other portable devices make it possible to work almost anywhere. You’re less likely to find someone sitting alone in a room behind a large desk.

Streamlined furnishings: Grand pieces clutter smaller spaces. Even the television takes up less space today, thanks to flat-screen designs.

©2012 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services