Isn’t this just a fantastic space belonging to fashion designer David Delfin and architect turned photographer Gorka Posigo? The open plan, the loft, the amazing blends of browns and colors and black with white, everything about it. I’ll even take the dog. But, oh, that face. And there is a selection of doll head busts on one cabinet. I have this thing about faces, you see. And doll heads. Not all that uncommon, I imagine. Last thing I want to see when I wake up for a tinkle is a giant face moaning and a whole bunch of dismembered baby heads.
What do you like about this pretty awesome if I do say so myself space? What would you ditch before moving in?
Images via Yatzer: http://www.yatzer.com/2074_delfin-postigo_house_welcomes_2010
My head is so full of detritus at the moment that I can’t think of much of anything other than chucking those pillows onto the floor, curling up in that chair, and reading until I had no more light to read by. Unfortunately, I have a career and a kid and a house of my own that currently has nothing resembling a good spot for reading for hours upon hours. Maybe someday…
Do you have a special spot in your place that’s just perfect for reading?
Every now and then I run across something like this, the story of a man living simply in a clever dwelling of only 258 square feet. How’s it possible? A transformer-like space with many of the necessities of daily living hidden away in the walls, only coming out as needed. Like the kitchen. And the bed. It’s small, but would you call it simple? That small space has been optimized for a serviceable amount of *stuff*. Oh, and style, too.
But what about super SIMPLE living? A bedroom, sans accessories, with a wee kitchen. The basics, without a lot of style. A home base without most of the comforts of home… I could swing living in Christian Schallert’s pad, provided I was single. But could I embrace the extremes of simple living, a la this book? I don’t really know – part of what keeps me sane is surrounding myself with beauty and fun. Not expensive beauty and fun, or new fun and old beauty (which tends to be the more expensive sort). But beauty and fun, nonetheless. How about you? Could you go small AND simple?
In small spaces and big ones, you can never have enough storage. Under the bed is one piece of real estate that, in my opinion, not enough people utilize. Sure, you could grab a couple of those flat plastic bins meant to slide right under, but if you can incorporate storage right into the bed itself, why not?
Before I get going, I should say that needing to make large rooms feel cozier is not a problem that I personally have. Cozy is one way to describe my house, right out of the box. But it is a problem that some people have – whether because they just don’t know what to do with a big room or because they previously had only small rooms so are used to decorating for small spaces. A huge expanse of room can feel cold and uninviting if not decorated properly, so for those who need the help, here are four ways to make big rooms feel cozy.
Choose Colors Carefully
Stark white is a no-no. Neutrals are super duper, but keep in mind that lighter colors won’t do anything to make a large room feel cozy. Darker colors absorb light, and give the illusion of a smaller space. Warm shades and rich, saturated ones work best. And paint those ceilings to bring them down! Finally, if you are updating your furniture and accessories, keep your new color palette in mind.
Furniture and Arrangement Make a Big Difference
With a big enough room, you can arrange furniture not in one large group, but in micro-arrangements that reflect how you want to use the room (and turn a big space into lots of little ones). You might have a reading corner and a gaming corner, and the main sitting area, and a writing area with a wee desk. Keep furniture and accessories scaled to the room – lots of tiny accessories will only emphasize the hugeness of the room. In other words, go big!
Floors Need Attention, Too
A big, bare expanse of floor is going to emphasize the size of a room – particularly if it’s a very long rectangular room. One area rug is good, but two can be even better. If you’re taking my advice and dividing your big room up into fairly clear usage areas, your floor coverings can be a part of that. Perhaps a large area rug under the main sitting area, then a round area rug under your reading chair in the book nook, and a third square area rug under the gaming table. Think about how you use your big room, and choose flooring wisely.
Don’t Ignore the Walls
A big room, especially one with high ceilings, has lots of wall to fill. I mentioned scaling appropriately when choosing furniture – the same goes for walls. If you’re wallpapering, there’s nothing to stop you from using a big pattern, but consider papering only certain walls and doing it strategically. Art should be big, or if it’s small, grouped in an interesting way and in a big enough grouping.
When I’m reading, where I actually am has never been the important thing. I love reading on packed trains, in turbulent planes, and yes, I’m even one of those nasty people who will happily read in the bathroom.* If I’m truly immersed in a book, the rest of the world just disappears. But I understand that for many people, the enjoyment of reading is heightened by by doing the deed in relative comfort, and perhaps even in beauty. Do I need a built-in book nook to be a happy reader? No. Nor does anyone else. But I am nonetheless in true lust with this particular built-in book nook, surrounded as it is with built-in shelves and filled with its many throw pillows. And the drawers and the wallpaper! I think I could even happily sleep in it, as long as I didn’t have to share.
Do you have a special reading spot that enhances your reading experience?
*In my defense, with a toddler demanding my attention it’s one of the few places I can read for a few minutes without any interruption!
Creating calmer interiors – and I’m talking about your home’s interior and your interior – doesn’t have to mean sending the kids to boarding school or firing your SO and moving to a house or apartment that will actually contain the detritus of day-to-day living. Not that those things won’t necessarily help, but I prefer to think of them as last resorts. Steps better taken after trying things like decluttering your living room and creating more space through trickery. Not that there’s anything wrong with a frenetic interior, of course, or a shabby one, if that’s what you’re into. But for some people – particularly people whose lives are filled with stress and chaos – home needs to be an oasis.
1. Choose calming colors for every room in your home, including your home office if you have one. Color affects mood, so stay away from colors that make you feel awake and energized, but don’t make the opposite mistake and go for those that make you feel sluggish or depressed. You could look at a color therapy chart to find the most calming hues, but only you know what colors make you feel serene, relaxed, and happy. For some, that might mean a bright turquoise or lemon, while for others, it could mean a darkish sea foam green. This is where those sample tins of paint come in handy. Put a square of your favorite by your bed – how does seeing it in the morning make you feel? How about at night?
2. Make every room of your home inviting to promote feelings of calm. Ever notice that people at parties will often congregate in the kitchen? It’s because people feel comfortable and nurtured where the food is. How can you make the rest of your home as inviting as the kitchen? First, choose comfortable furniture that looks good but doesn’t put out a ‘no touching’ vibe. Furniture should be touchable – and while it might be unseemly to throw oneself onto a couch or chair, the most calming furniture is the kind you can relax into. Second, give yourself something aesthetically pleasing to admire. Do you have a painting or accessory that you find peaceful? Or an heirloom that brings to mind happy thoughts of your favorite relatives? Display them where you need hard-hitting mood elevators.
3. Go all-natural, with materials and textiles that Mother Nature created – especially in the bathroom and in the bedroom. There’s just something about the real stuff that is conducive to letting go of stress. Things that come to mind are a durable seagrass rug or a rush ottoman, lovely linen curtains or pillows, lots of natural wood or wicker, and hey, maybe even plenty of windows that give you views of actual nature if you’re lucky enough to have some right outside of your front door. In the bathroom, a bamboo bath mat is so much nicer underfoot than your standard fuzzy one.
4. Keep surfaces clutter free, because seeing clutter all around you is guaranteed to interfere with your ability to achieve serenity. That’s not to say you have to keep all of your surfaces free of everything except for lamps and whatever book you’re reading at the moment. Just make sure that everything that’s on top of your night stand, dressers, side tables, coffee table, etc. is either beautiful to look at or something you want easy access to in the immediate future or all the time. In other words, no letting papers build up or dumping the contents of your pockets onto the kitchen counter every day after work (unless you clean it up before bedtime).
5. Think simple! A lot of people are put off by the idea of minimalism, since most of us feel much more comfortable when we’ve built ourselves cocoons of *stuff*. And voluntary simplicity still sounds so fadish, even though it’s completely mainstream by this point. I’m not suggesting that you throw out all your stuff save for your bed and one chair and a desk, but rather that you shouldn’t feel compelled to fill every last inch of your home with furniture and carpets and decorative items just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do. If you love that look – think a controlled chaos of comfort – then fabu. But more people than not find it’s hard to feel calm in a space when there’s just too much going on in it.
Built-Ins, Built-Ins, Built-Ins
Obviously you can bring a ton of furniture into a small house or apartment, but you can maximize the space you have with built-ins like cabinets and cupboards and window benches and bookcases. These don’t have to be as deep as standalone furniture so you’re not encroaching too much on the airspace of the room, and you end up with a place for everything and everything in its place. Have I mentioned that clutter is a major no-no for those of us who live in small houses and apartments?
Divide With Doors
In my house, the kitchen and the living room are open to each other in two ways: a big interior window sort of thing in the wall and the wide doorless doorway between the two rooms. The idea is that a small kitchen and a small living room will feel larger if they’re attached, but instead it ends up feeling like one cramped room because there’s no usage division. Installing a set of French doors in the doorway between the two rooms helps the mind see two separate spaces that are useful and sizable.
Let In the Light
While not a solution for the renter, the homeowner can install more or larger windows that let in light, air, and a view of the wider world that will make a small space feel more ample. Bumped out windows can do a lot to enlarge an awkward space, as can very tall windows.
Make Rooms Do Double Duty
The reality is that if you don’t have a lot of space, you don’t have the luxury of having a room just for X and another just for Y. That means that whenever possible, a room should have more than one purpose. You can put a pretty writing desk in your living room, for example. Your home office can double as your crafting room. A landing can play host to a chest of linens. Bookcases in the dining room. And so on.
What are your favorite tips for making a small house or apartment feel bigger?
Yes, I know. This is a kid’s room. But double the bed and scale up the desk and I wouldn’t mind at all if it was my room – though I might also replace the tiny little side table with this one so I could actually set a few books down. I’m sure The Beard would be just thrilled to serenade me to sleep on the ukulele. Right?