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5 Great Tips for Small Space Living

6/27/2011 4:03:13 PM

Tags: small space tips, small space living, small homes, tips for living in a small home, Hunter Douglas, Viva Terra, Container Store, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailThis week I’m talking to small house dwellers for an upcoming article in Mother Earth News. I’m inspired by their commitment to minimalist living, and I’m learning a lot of tips and tricks for making the most of tiny spaces. Most of all, though, I’m inspired by the obvious joy and satisfaction that living in a smaller home brings to these folks. Living in a tiny home is a choice that no one regrets. (If you’d like to tell Mother readers your story, send an email to

This morning, coincidentally, I received an email from Hunter Douglas with five good tips for “living larger with less.” They’re worth sharing.


The Container Store’s Water Hyacinth Bins offer an attractive option for storage in three sizes. 

1. Contain It: More items in view means the room appears more crowded and compact. Contain as much as you can in stylish storage. First, designate a spot for every belonging so that there are a few items on tables and desks. Putting small items in neutral-colored boxes or decorative bins. Line up the storage pieces side-by-side and organize books or other items by color for an orderly look that, along with uncluttered surfaces, makes the room feel more spacious.  

viva terra ottoman 

Viva Terra’s wool ottoman supports weary feet while storing magazines and media remotes in its secret drawer. 

2. Furniture that Fits: Replace large, overstuffed furniture with trim, tailored pieces more in scale with the space. Place the heaviest piece in the room, whether a couch or a chest, along a wall to save space. To create balance, position another weighty item across from it. Place smaller furniture pieces such as chairs diagonally in corners to not only look inviting, but to open up the room. Find something the eye can focus on when entering: a beautifully dressed window or unobstructed view, piece of art, decorative mirror or well-kept fireplace. Lastly, invest in as many multi-tasking pieces as possible, like a coffee table that doubles as seating and also has built-in storage or a compact drop-leaf table that opens up to a desk or dining table.


Interior designer Shelly Handman uses translucent glass and mirrors to create the illusion of more light. 

3. Lighten Up: Mirrors can act as virtual windows to enhance the light a room receives. Hang them so they can reflect something you want to see (artwork or the outdoors). Brighten the room with window coverings that make the most of mood-boosting natural light.


Pale yellow walls give this Chicago bungalow a sense of cohesion and space. Photo by Michael Shopenn/Natural Home & Garden 

4. Color that Creates Space: Bold and warm hues make a room feel cozy, while light and cool tones instantly expand the space. Try light yellow, soothing soft blue or always-complimentary ivory on walls. Continue with a neutral palette for the overall design to further optimize the space. adding only a few “pop” colors and patterns on pillows, art or tabletop accessories. Keep these cooler hues harmonious throughout the home to break down walls and create a flow.  

hunter douglas divider 

Hunter Douglas’s Skyline Gliding Window Panels feature a track system that allows them to be used as room dividers. 

5. Divide and Conquer: Create a breakfast nook, home office or even separate bedroom with a decorative divider.


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