Get The Most Out Of A Tiny Space

Small Space Living

Annie Gorra – a writer and a City of Vancouver employee – and her husband Benny Rago – a Senior Analyst working at HSBC – are a married couple who sold their 1,300 square-foot three-storey home in Vancouver and downsized to a 910 sqft two-bedroom condo. I’m sharing their experience to help you pick up some valuable tips and tricks on how to deal with your own small space:

Needs and wants don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can have your cake and eat it too.

The couple wanted to create a beautiful space to relax and entertain friends and family. They also wanted their home to reflect the warmth and humor of their native Filipino culture. They also needed to fit their flat-screen TV, a proper dining area, a shoe closet and foyer within a tight rectangular space and a narrow entrance hallway.

Sit down and carefully consider what needs to be done. Call for outside help if necessary.

By the time they called our design firm, Annie and Benny had already begun buying a few pieces of furniture on their own. It wasn’t long before they felt overwhelmed and realized that they needed the help of a professional to help them meet all their requirements and make the space look good at the same time.

Be mindful of scale, proportion, color and furniture styles

As with most do-it-yourself (DIY) decorators, Annie and Benny weren’t mindful of things like scale and proportion. That’s why most people usually end up buying furniture that’s either too small or too big. Or they may buy various pieces of furniture that don’t look good together, because either the color or style is off.

There’s tons of suppliers out there that you don’t know about

Furthermore they didn’t know right suppliers needed to achieve the minimalist/Asian theme that they were going for. What usually happens to most DIY decorators is that they end spending more than they need to, not being entitled to the special deals and discounts given exclusively to interior designers. They also end up shopping in the wrong stores that don’t suit the look or style that they’re going for. Like most people, they don’t do this for a living and aren’t aware of all the furniture stores that are in town.

Each piece should function at least 2 or more ways in a small space

A full-scale dining set was purchased and placed next to the living room, which in turn doubled as their media (or TV-watching) room. To get more usage out of their furniture, certain pieces were selected that could do double-duty as extra seating for impromptu guests.

Assess your space’s strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t be afraid to break the rules.

As their bar counter did not actually have the proper depth to put stools underneath, we positioned the living room furniture directly in front and moved the TV to the opposite wall. This enabled the couple to watch their favorite shows either from the sofa or in the kitchen. Most people put the TV in front of the pre-wired cable outlet, not realizing that a call to an electrician enables them to reposition the TV or sound system anywhere in the house.

It’s OK to get a regular bed instead of a sofabed (or even a Murphy bed)

As with most people, the couple thought of buying a sofabed. A regular queen-size bed is actually a more comfortable and practical solution for as long as accompanying pieces – such as a table, chest of drawers and pair of night stands – are can fit.

Showcase your personal history, your culture and your quirky tastes

We introduced materials and natural fibers from their home country, such as water hyacinth for the loveseat, abaca for the sofa cushions, raw silk for accent pillows, bamboo for various decorative pieces, rice paper for the dining table light fixture and wicker for the candy dish decor. Communal-style dining is still practiced in some parts of thePhilippines, so we incorporated this idea by using a pair of long benches instead of individual chairs for the dining table.

Art enlivens any space

Annie and Benny also had a growing art collection, out of which I selected a pair of paintings and straw hats to display in the living room and hallway.

Condo living needn’t be a cramped and dreary affair. With the help of a good designer, it becomes easier to plan, locate and purchase what you need to create a beautiful and functional space, whatever the size.

 

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