5 ways to organize and decorate a tiny space

Design New England
Michael J. Lee

Living in a city like Boston—especially for those who call coveted neighborhoods like the South End, South Boston, and Back Bay home—often requires fitting a big life into a small space. The good news? Whatever your home lacks in square footage, you can make up for with smart design.

Rachel Reider, designer and owner of Rachel Reider Interiors in Boston, shared a few of her go-to tips for maximizing even the most compact spaces.

Avoid interrupting visual sight lines
On the whole, Reider said, people are moving toward a more casual lifestyle. So formal rooms, like traditional dining rooms and separate living rooms, are no longer necessary. That means those walls that create said rooms? They can go, too.

“As much as you can try to keep the flow open, the better it is,” said Reider, who not only advocated for tearing down unnecessary walls, but also for increasing openings and doorways wherever a complete demolition isn’t possible. “The idea is to…[make] the space feel more open.”

Think “up” when it comes to storage
“Vertical space is an extremely valuable resource when it comes to achieving more square footage,” said Reider. “But most people only think about the footprint when looking at a space, so it often gets overlooked.”

In addition to bookshelves and similar storage units that can be built upward, Reider said floating furniture, such as wall-attached desks and media consoles, are great ways to get things off of the floor.

“We’ve done floating shelves on walls, which can be great to display art, family photos, and books,” she said. “It doubles as artwork and functional storage.”

Take your window treatments high—and low
“I always recommend mounting drapes as high as you possibly can,” said Reider. “That brings your sight line up, which makes the overall space feel larger.”

How high is too high? Reider suggested installing your curtain rods just a few inches below the ceiling to create the illusion of height. The drapes—and this is important—should go all the way to the floor. Going too short cuts the room off and ruins the effect.

Know that you don’t have to paint small spaces white
“Some people say, ‘Oh, you can only do white,’” said Reider. “And I don’t think that’s true. If your space gets a lot of natural light, then a dark color, especially a dark color in a high-gloss lacquer, can be really beautiful and dramatic.”

The one rule all small-home owners should follow, however, is sticking to one cohesive color palette throughout every room. “You tend to see all the spaces together as one,” said Reider. “So you don’t want anything that feels too jarring or disruptive.”

When the time comes to furnish, choose versatile pieces
You might not always have room for an ottoman and a coffee table, so why not buy an ottoman that can be used as a coffee table and—better still—be easily tucked away when you need extra floor space?

“You really want to think about things that can be very multifunctional and useful for everyday living, then moved out of the area to open up the larger space,” said Reider. “It’s all about coming up with creative solutions to maximize the space.”

Design New England, the magazine of splendid homes and gardens, celebrates the region’s best interior design, architecture, and landscape design.
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