Bilty of Renaissance Design and Renovation in Milwaukee used
space-saving secrets, such as adding lighting and built-in
storage, to add extra room to one bathroom.
home is a small apartment or a 5,000-square-foot house, it can feel
crowded if you simply have too much stuff. According to home design
experts, the key to living well in a small or crowded space and
finding room for the things you want to do is to use your imagination.
With the proper strategy, you can reclaim the room you need for a play
area, exercise room, office ó whatever the purpose.
of your space isnít as important as how you use it," says Anne
Francois, owner of Collaborative Design in Waukesha. "Take time
to analyze how you want to use your space. There are many different
ideas you can use to unclutter and maximize the room you have,"
Move It or Lose
want to be on the TV show ĎHoarders,í you need to get rid of the
stuff you donít use or need. That is the first step," says Kris
Bilty, owner, Renaissance Design and Renovation in Milwaukee.
"It may seem obvious, but the first thing I advise clients to do
is to go through the extra things that seem to be cluttering up their
space and life, and really pare it down. Just like you should be doing
with your closets, if you havenít used something or even noticed it
in the past year, itís time to say goodbye to it. Donate it, give it
to family, or sell it on eBay or Craigís List," she advises.
"I know it
can be incredibly hard to let go of some items because of memories
attached to them. If thatís the case, sometimes Iíll advise my
clients to take a picture of the item and put it in an album or on
their computer so they can still look at it. Itís often the memory
associated with the item and not necessarily the item itself that is
truly important," Francois says.
Another way to
remove clutter without giving away items you love is to recognize that
not every item has to be on display at the same time. "You can
display some of the items and tuck the others away. Rotate accessories
seasonally to reduce clutter and give your home a fresh look,"
Francois says. "Itís amazing how quickly we forget those stored
items and how much fun it is to rediscover them."
Jack of All
When a room or a
piece of furniture serves more than one purpose, you have effectively
increased your space. "One area that many of my clients are
trying to multipurpose is the home office/guest room. The good news in
home offices these days is that, unless you are actually running your
business out of your home, the amount of space required is minimal,
giving you more flexibility with the room," says designer Donna
Sweet, co-owner of Haven Interiors in Milwaukee. She notes that a
simple desk with a comfortable chair is adequate for a laptop. And,
while a larger surface might be required for a desktop computer, many
of the new monitors can double as a television. Add a bookcase with
some closed storage for filing and a fax machine, and you can keep the
room organized, and looking less like an office when guests come to
As for sleeping
quarters for guests, a small sectional or sleeper sofa provides a cozy
den/guest bedroom. "The mattresses are so much better in sleepers
these days," Sweet says. "Add a side table with a great lamp
and you have a night stand."
spaces are all about organization. Itís vital that every inch have a
purpose," Bilty says. "One great way to create space in the
kitchen or dinette area is by installing built-in banquette seating
with storage below along one wall or under a window and pushing the
table toward it. This can gain extra space in high traffic
areas," she says.
of your walls from floor to ceiling, says Sweet. "Built-in
bookcases with shelves that reach ceiling height and storage or file
drawers down below provide the maximum book and display space
possible, as well as give the room height," says Sweet.
"Look at the window arrangement in the room. Perhaps bookcases
can be added on either side of the window with storage beneath the
window. The depth gives the window a nice architectural feature,
too," she adds.
The Illusion of
"fool the eye" tricks to make a space look bigger. For
example, use interesting lights to make your home more vibrant. And,
make the most of natural light. When arranging furniture, try not to
block views out of windows and doors.
often think "small room, small furniture," that doesnít
have to be the case. Move out some of your small pieces and place one
or two big pieces in the room. Youíll be surprised how often fewer,
larger pieces help to make a space appear less cluttered and more
busts one decorating myth. "Small spaces do not have to be
painted in a light color. While that is certainly an option, a great
dark color can be dramatic and special, particularly if you have
painted woodwork, so that you get a crisp contrast," she says.
One of the most
common ways used in the design industry to create space is to take
down a wall between rooms or even a half wall to open up the space,
Bilty says. "This simple step can make a big difference in a
home. And, in the bath, consider replacing an outdated shower with an
open concept shower with taller glass doors in the same space. It will
be more beautiful and more user friendly," she says.
What if you need
to create a play area for kids or a craft area for adults in an
already overcrowded house? Bilty offers some advice: "Determine
the kidsí interests, whether it is art, video games or other
projects. This is the perfect use for a built-in custom designed
entertainment center with deep bottom drawers for toys or crafts,
cabinets to hold games, and pull-outs for videos and DVD storage.
There are many ways to find space, just get creative," she says.
ē Use a trunk
or ottoman with storage for a coffee table.
additional poles in your closets for hanging smaller items of clothing
ē Place long
flat storage boxes or drawers under the beds for out-of-season
clothing storage. m