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A small, beautiful space

Live small: Tips to embrace a small living space

by Jenny

There is a great TEDx talk from 2011 in which Buffalo entrepreneur Patrick Finan discusses his “small house, nice things” philosophy.

There is this antiquated idea that — as you progress in life — you need to keep moving into bigger and bigger spaces, and filling those spaces with more and more stuff.

This type of lifestyle is celebrated as “success.” However, it can be expensive to maintain, troublesome to manage, and ultimately more work than it’s worth.

The alternative? A “small house with nice things,” according to Finan. Manageability becomes more important than square footage. Quality takes the place of quantity. Happiness is defined by comfort.

While living in a small home or apartment isn’t always a choice, there are advantages. Embrace the positive! Here are some tips and hints to take full advantage of a smaller lifestyle.

“Small house, nice things:” Tips to right-sizing your life

1.) Determine needs. A good tip from Lifehacker — if you had to fill your small space from scratch, what would you absolutely need to have? Try applying this strategy if you’re moving into a smaller home or apartment, and put the non-necessities in self storage. This will also give you a backup supply of home goods and furniture that you can rotate in and out when you want to change things up.

2.) Expand your pallet. The right color choices can perk up a small room or a cramped, big-city apartment. Remember that dark colors envelop the walls of a room, making it seem smaller. If you lighten the walls and place a darker shade on the connective entryway, it can brighten the entire space, tricking the eye into believing the square footage is greater than it actually is.

If you live in a rental, ask if you can paint any dark, wooden kitchen cabinets. Most will give permission (it actually upgrades their unit) and you will be surprised at what a difference light wood looks over dark in a small kitchen.

Small but colorful apartment

3.) Get rid of duplicates. Extra dishware and glassware takes up a lot of cupboard space — box that stuff up and put it in your storage unit. Do you need two armchairs? Do you and your partner or spouse each need a desk? Are both end tables completely necessary? These are the types of items that self storage is made for — or, if you feel like testing your sales chops, sell the extras off.

4.) Don’t be a wallflower. People mistakenly believe that placing furniture items against the walls of a smaller room opens up the space. In reality, it makes the room look imbalanced while sucking out any warmth.

A neutral rug makes the floor space look longer and wider. Furniture placed into a ‘triangle’ formation in the middle of the room enlivens and distinguishes a small space.

5.) Consider home storage space carefully. You want to take full advantage of available storage (closets, hangers, command hooks, shelves, etc.), but you also want to avoid packing your small space like a moving truck.

As you prepare to relocate to a small home or apartment, do a thorough decluttering job on your own possessions. Do you need your CD and DVD collections in 2014? How important is your library of books — and are you really ever going to read them again? How necessary is every piece of furniture? These can be painful decisions to make, but you need to be honest with yourself.

I feel like I’ve been singing this tune a lot in recent blogs, but it’s important — get seasonal items like clothes, sports equipment, and other outdoor gear into self storage. When it’s hot in the city, you don’t need to trip over your skis every morning.

6.) Mirror, mirror… Trick the eye into seeing and believing. A room with a small ceiling appears larger when photographs or artwork are hung higher than usual on the walls. Mirrors also can deceive the eye and open up a small space by reflecting the area behind you, thus ‘enlarging’ the room.

Both of these tips encourage the eye to move higher, rather than along the bottom half of the room. The help make your space appear more, well, spacious.

7.) Switchin’ the kitchen dynamic. If your kitchen is small and you never find yourself actually eating inside of it, remove any cramped table or chairs to create a simpler room flow. The sink, stove, and refrigerator should always be unencumbered with clutter, which makes a small space look — and feel —  tinier than it is.

8.) And, of course, self storage. Self-storage is a boon for those living in small homes or apartments. These units keep your belongings safe and organized, and if you ever do move into bigger digs, you still have access to some of the items that were to important to remove from your life. Find self storage near you.

And if you need more help getting your space decluttered — it just so happens that I know a good blog for that.

• DIYer, Designer, Declutterer
• Freelance Blogger & Home Beautifier
• Gelato Junkie ;)