Are you and your family living in a space that seems to shrink a little more every day? At Houseplay, we understand what it’s like. We’ve lived in tiny one-bedroom apartments, and we know just how challenging it can be to make the most of a small space with a growing family.
Yet a tight space also represents an opportunity. It gives you the chance to discover what matters most to you and your loved ones, and prioritize accordingly. Plus, it’s less surface area to clean and vacuum, and you’d be surprised at how much time that saves!
Here are a few practical steps you can take to extend the space that you do have.
1. Dedicate yourself to decluttering.
If your space cramped and crowded, maybe possessions are part of the problem. Many of us have far more clothes, books, and appliances than we actually use, and the overflow of objects affects our home life. If you’re having trouble with the idea of letting go, consider that you’re really making a trade: fewer possessions for more space and more time to pursue what matters to you.
When you start paring down, you’ll see space open up, and that feeling of expansion will drive you forward. So take the risk dare to declutter your home.
As Marie Kondo notes in her bestselling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.”
Once you’ve let go of extraneous belongings, you can move on to Step 2 …
2. Rearrange your furniture and swap in different décor.
It’s easy to get stuck believing that your furniture is fixed in place, but it’s not! Consider that you probably placed it on the day that first moved in … and everyone knows that stressed, exhausted new homeowners aren’t always the best judges of exactly what works where!
So, if you’ve always had your sofa on one side of the room, try it on the other side. Play around and see what happens. Switching up your furniture can give you a fresh perspective and introduce a better flow to your space.
You might also experiment with interior design, using furnishings and fixtures to enliven and visually expand a home. Browse our Let the Sunshine In renovation gallery to see how one Hoboken family used airy colors, rich fabrics, and sparkling light fixtures to bring a sense of spaciousness to their duplex.
3. Play with color, light, and reflections … but be aware of the limitations of your space.
Consider adding an accent wall; sometimes, a pop of color makes all the difference in tight quarters. Check out our Pretty In Pink Jersey City bathroom renovation for a good example of how a bright color can energize a space.
Since an overly-dark space gives a feeling of constriction, you might also select window treatments that allow more natural light into your space. You could also introduce additional light sources such as standing lamps if needed.
Strategically-placed mirrors can also help a small space to appear larger. As one character says to another in Anne Lamott’s novel Blue Shoe, “… Mirrors are a kind of window. They bring light and the outside world to a wall that doesn’t have an opening in it. They can be an opening of light.”
That said, sometimes an ill-fitting space just won’t work without some customized design. Fortunately, a good designer can tailor your living space to suit your family’s needs.
For example, in our To New Heights downtown Jersey City, NJ design and build project, we custom-designed the home with our clients in mind, which meant providing new layouts, integrating design elements, and accounting for height too (he was 6’4”, she was 5’7”).
Imagine how much more comfortable your home could be if you weren’t banging your head on door frames or stooping in the shower!
Which brings us to our final suggestion …
4. Hire a designer and general contractor to rework your space.
Sometimes, the best solution really is to tear down walls or even start from scratch. As we noted in Peeling Back the Layers, Part II, “It’s true in construction, and it’s true in life: sometimes, you have to get down to the bare bones and rebuild from there. A ‘full gut’ is the complete and total rebuilding of a home from the inside out … with a new architectural space as the result.”
The total overhaul of apartment can be an uplifting experience. In one client’s apartment, we changed the layout of the kitchen and moved the fridge to another wall. Doing so doubled the kitchen counter space! It’s amazing to see how design changes can have such a big impact in small spaces.
And in our Kid-Friendly and Eco-Friendly Jersey City apartment renovation (which was featured on HGTV’s My First Renovation!), we helped a growing family transform their small apartment.
We opened up the wall between the kitchen and the living room, allowing our clients to see into the playroom and keep an eye on their children while preparing food. That design change meant less stress for the whole family.
If that’s your situation, don’t wait; contact us today! Send us an email by filling out our contact form, or call Niall at 646-821-6078 or Tammy at 646-243-5765. We’d be glad to help you transform your small space into something special.