Feb 9, 2011

Guest Post: Nesting In Small Spaces

I'm happy to welcome Kerrie Kelly, ASID as a guest blogger on Sense Of Place.  Kerrie's an Interior Designer and proprietress of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, CA. She's an aficionado of getting more from small spaces and today writes about small-space interior design: 

At the beginning of the new year, many of us look to organize and balance the items we have collected over the years. In smaller quarters, this may mean mixing styles, colors and unmatched elements, which can ultimately create a space that reflects the “real” you if these simple guidelines are followed.

1.       Maximize Your Floor Plan

  • Multitasking furniture pieces: Free up precious square footage by getting creative with your furniture’s purpose. Turning larger pieces, such as a bed, with the longer end against the wall can create a day bed effect that is functional for sleeping as well as for a cozy hang out area.
  • Nimble pieces: Select pieces that can be agile within your space. Flexible elements such as stools, trays, ottomans and side tables can be easily moved around for additional seating, nightstands, small desks and serving tables. Don’t be afraid to add handles or casters to pieces for maximum flexibility.
  • Create a symmetrical layout: Center heavy pieces on the room’s perimeter to create an anchoring sense of order. Flank a sofa by matching bookcases to offset the visual weight a piano or fireplace. You can make a compact room feel much bigger by choosing fewer large, bold pieces instead of several smaller furnishings and accessories.
  • Lighten up: A special table or floor lamp gives a room instant style and ambience. You can get a lot of task light out of lamps in a small room without needing much overhead light. The most beautiful fabrics and artwork are useless if they are hidden in darkness!
2.       Claim Your Colors

  •  Identify your palette: Begin the color selection process by pin-pointing your favorite objects in the space. Pull color from rugs, artwork, furniture, fabrics and accessories to create your personal palette. A small space isn't a place to have high-contrast, jarring color and patterns. Go for color, but keep it all in the same tone.
  • Unify opposing pieces: A coat of white paint can pull together clashing woods or colors. Paint accent pieces to complement each other. Harmonizing shades keep a small space from looking too busy.
  • Paint smart: A very pale hue bounces light around just as white paint would, but also adds a colorful element to create the appearance that tiny confines are larger. If you prefer darker tones, take the wall color onto the ceiling or use a shade that's two or three shades lighter than the walls on the ceiling to keep the contrast levels down. 
3.       Solutions for Storage

  • Box it up: Bulky items like sheets, blankets and off-season clothing can easily slide under the bed in dust-free boxes when not in use. Colored or fabric-covered boxes can conceal items while decoratively perched in bookcases.
  • A little fabric: Wall-to-wall drapes can expand their use while cleverly covering floor to ceiling open shelving and architectural eyesores.
  • Concealed cabinets: Doors can hide file boxes and day-to-day functional items, while open shelving can display decorative books and collectibles. Personalize pre-fabricated cabinetry by staining or painting the doors. Upholstering the front of cabinet doors with padding, beautiful fabric and nail-head trim is another appealing option.

Remember, while a diminutive room has the potential to be a "jewel box" in your home you really have to be detailed when decorating it.  Everything becomes a focal point.

The eye travels quickly around a small room, so you want each piece to have meaning and impact with your own personal touch.


  1. Good article! Useful and very succinct comments here!

  2. You can do so much with simple moves!