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Small space doesn't have to present limitations; each item should have a use

Accessorize with objects you can use. The playful poofs add a fun, playful element to the space, while serving as extra seating or foot stools. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Janis Nicolay

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Accessorize with objects you can use. The playful poofs add a fun, playful element to the space, while serving as extra seating or foot stools. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Janis Nicolay

VICTORIA - Decorating with a purpose allows homeowners to maximize the space in a small home.

When every square foot is at a premium in a condo, apartment or house, it is important to make sure even the decorative accessories have a use.

“Minimize useless objects,” says Angela Robinson, a Vancouver interior designer. “I know especially in residential design homeowners tend to buy a lot of decorative objects thinking it will make their home feel cosy and more complete, but I think you can achieve that same look and feel by purchasing useful objects that also look pretty.”

Robinson suggests using sculptural or dramatic salt and pepper shakers in a kitchen instead of buying pieces that take up space without serving a purpose.

Making a small space efficient also requires looking at the overall surfaces of a home differently. Robinson says homeowners need to look at vertical spaces as opportunities for storage and organization.

“I personally live in a smaller space (my place is about 700 square feet), and one thing I found really helpful for my organization and storage is to maximize my wall and vertical space,” she says. “Inside my cupboard doors I have hung all my pots and pans so they are accessible and I don't have to stack everything.”

Instead of filling a small space with many small objects, Robinson recommends using larger bold art and furniture.

“I think a lot of people think because they are in a smaller, tighter space they should bring in appropriately scaled furniture, artwork and accessories, and I don't necessarily agree with that,” she says.

“I think often with small spaces going with larger-scale or bigger pieces of artwork and accessories along with bolder pieces of furniture, you can actually make a space feel more dramatic and larger than if you were to fill a space with small dainty objects. It’s just visually more calming if you bring in fewer larger items than many smaller items.”

According to Ottawa interior designer Laura Boisvert, homeowners often either fill their small space with too much furniture or not enough.

Boisvert says the most common problems her clients face is around not enough storage and seating.

“Either they are afraid that if they add more it will make it feel small or because they need more storage or seating they purchased furniture that shouldn't belong,” she says. “You have to find a balance and the best way to do this is with pieces of furniture that serve multiple purposes.”

Both Boisvert and Robinson say there are various options for homeowners looking to purchase furniture that does double or triple duty. From ottomans with self-contained storage to coffee tables with drawers and shelves, Boisvert suggests looking for furniture to maximize a small space.

While having furniture and decorative items that serve a purpose is key to an efficient small space, Boisvert says paint and lighting can also help make it appear larger.

“Lighter colours recede so they make the space appear larger,” she says. “Lighting is also important to any space especially a smaller one. If you have a really dimly lit space with little lighting it will feel cave like, darker and smaller than if you have lots of nice lighting."

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