Design WiseShelagh Duncan

10 Smart Ideas for Small Spaces

Nesting TablesBy Shelagh Duncan

That old joke: “My house is so small, you have to go outside to change your mind” is not so funny if you are struggling with a small space that needs to function well enough to entertain friends and family – and still be comfortable.  Small spaces require creative solutions that focus on flexibility and here we have 10 great ideas to help you.

1.Nesting Tables:

When you need an extra table or two – inside or out – but have no floor space, try using nesting tables. These handy pieces are invaluable when entertaining, and can add a little style in the bargain.

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2. TV Tables :

Born in the 50’s, the TV table quickly gained popularity allowing people to eat their TV dinners in front of the TV! However now they are even more useful, for homework or crafts, or as a portable desk or card table. These incredibly practical tables come with their own stand, and sit patiently by awaiting their next call to duty.

multi-purpose coffee table3. Multi-Purpose  Coffee Tables:

What better idea than to have multi-purpose furniture! A coffee table that is also a storage chest, or with an added self  to keep what you need handy – books, games, puzzles etc. , or with cube ottomans stashed beneath for  footstools, or some extra seating when needed. 

4. Futons and Sofa-Beds: Are also popular dual-purpose items. Futons are usually a smaller scale and are great for one adult or a couple of kids. Sofa-beds are available in Full and Queen size, and are generally more comfortable.

bunk beds5. Bunk Beds and Loft Beds: These are great space savers too. They can have different configurations for different  uses – a Double bed below with a Twin above, or a bed above and desk and storage below.

Very practical even in cabinas, where you can use the upper space as a loft sleeping, and the ‘bonus’ floor space beneath is now freed up to use for storage, living and many other uses.

murphy bed6. Murphy Beds:  Since the days of silent movies wall beds have been used for comic relief, but there is nothing funny about all the extra floor space they save. These wonderful wall beds are built into cabinetry so skilfully you would never know what was behind those doors – until bedtime. 

7. Use Height – not precious floor space:  Full height kitchen cupboards are essential for small kitchens, and tall bookcases are perfect anywhere. Store your seldom used or bulky items high, and more often used items within easy reach.  Most of us have higher ceilings here, so store ‘up’, not ‘out’. For us vertically-challenged folks, keep a step stool handy! Even laundry rooms have an unused space above the door that is perfect for a shelf or cupboard.

drop leaf dining table8. Dining Tables that Grow: One of the really smart ideas . Many of us can remember those old fashioned gate-leg tables in our grandparents homes that were pulled into service when the rest of the family arrived. When not needed, back they went against the wall until the next time.

Today there are many fancy types of extension tables but if you have a small space – simple is smart. A small table with a couple of drop-leafs will make the world of difference. If you don’t have the space for extra chairs, then

use a bench!  A great multi-purpose piece that can be useful anywhere – end of the bed, as an extra table or by the front door – you get the picture.

corner banquette9. Make Corners Come to Life: Empty corners can be used for pyramid-style shelving, a ‘nook’ message center or a corner desk.  Banquette seating can also offer storage opportunities while saving space. Lots of opportunities here!

10. Live Life Large:  Small spaces can seem larger with a few smart decorating tricks; mirrors expand space visually, wall hooks are practical just about everywhere, use colour to fool the eye, choose furniture with legs – they ‘float’ above the floor. For one-room living, use a room divider to separate areas – but keep it feeling open. A Bamboo screen, an open-back bookcase; you get the idea.

Just because you have a small space it does not mean that you cannot enjoy every inch – or should I say centimetre – of it.

Until next time

Shelagh Duncan, Royal Palm Interiors – Uvita