There’s no question that living small has become a big thing. Whether by circumstance or choice, the way in which we view our material world is undergoing a quiet revolution. And whether you’re living in a condo, earthship, casita, tiny territorial, or just feel you’re drowning in clutter, there are myriad ways to simplify your life and organize your stuff. Below, our design solution specialists--Joan Duncan, ASID, of Creatrix, LLC, Interior Design Services, and Judy Follmer of Taos Lifestyle--offer up nine of their best tips.
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- Pocket doors free up a surprising amount of floor space, and work especially well with baths, closets, and in narrow hallways, noted Duncan. “They’re a perfect small space solution,” and in most cases are easily installed.
- Built-ins could become your new BFFs. There’s traditional hutches and cabinetry, but consider staircase storage with either a closet tucked underneath, or with riser drawers that pull out of the steps themselves, said Follmer. Companies like Rev-A-Shelf, a favorite of Duncan’s, make cabinet inserts that can literally double the efficiency of your existing space, like in those pesky kitchen corner cabinets.
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- Murphy or cabinet beds are naturals for guest accommodations but don’t discount them for your master bedroom, either. Many now have built-in storage for linens and pillows, plus the added convenience of outlets, USB ports, and pull-out tabletops.
- Moveable tables and accent pieces, especially in dual-use rooms or where hideaway beds are used, are essential. “Lightweight pieces, preferably on wheels, give you the flexibility to reconfigure a floor plan as needed,” said Follmer. And small scale anchor furniture is more widely available than ever, she noted.
- Drop leaf and stacking tables are the workhorses of small spaces for good reason, saving your precious square footage when not in use. Dual function items are always a great choice. A high-low sideboard can serve as a room divider, sofa table, work space, breakfast bar, or all four, Follmer observed.
- Forget floor and table lamps, and instead install swing-arm fixtures to your walls and direct the light to where you need it, Duncan advised. She noted that pendant and track lighting are great options, as well.
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- Ditch the definition of a room’s label and make it work for you, Duncan believes. “If you don’t need a dining room, then call it whatever works for you; maybe it’s your office or game room. Look to make an underutilized closet a sewing or craft area, or the home of an extra bureau.”
- Go vertical with storage of your everyday essentials using shelves, wall racks and grids. “Use the dead spaces in your home, like above or on the side of your cabinets, or the wall behind a door,” said Duncan. This advise goes for your personal accessories, as well. “Your jewelry or hats hanging on decorative hooks expresses your personality better than any other wall hanging.” To organize counters and tabletops, group like items on trays or in baskets.
- Above all, be both imaginative and pragmatic, Duncan recommends. Repurpose what you have and find new uses for those items, with functionality at the forefront. Organize your personal belongings by season and your housewares by likely use. New thing in? Old thing out.
Bonus tip from both of our experts: Don’t overlook your outdoor space. A fire pit or heater, and some all-weather curtains hanging from your portal, instantly creates an intimate living or dining area that in Taos can be enjoyed three season of the year. And, set your priorities to what you want your life to look like, both Duncan and Follmer agreed.
Our two experts believe that small living and living large are not mutually exclusive. With ingenuity and creativity, the best of both worlds can be yours.