Move over, phones, televisions, audio and home security systems,
vehicles and a host of other “smart” items dotting our culture — space
planning has joined this clever club.
Local professionals dedicated to helping residents create intelligent
spaces say the concept is easily defined.
“It involves furniture that is functional and good for the person,” says
Randi K. of Greenfield-based Biltrite Furniture-Leather-Mattress.
“Comfort is the ultimate goal.”
Joanna Harig, CAD and design manager for the Midwest region of
California Closets (which includes the company’s Brookfield location),
extends that definition. “(Space planning) has to be functional, and I
think it also has to be beautiful,” Harig says. “It also involves
accessibility and visibility. I like to say it is also about no wasted
Shedding more light on the concept, Hank Albert, owner of BBC Lighting
in Milwaukee, and Jeremy Gurholt, the store’s residential lighting
manager, say new innovations in LED lighting are making a difference.
“LED keeps getting better every week, with new products (launching),”
says Albert. “It’s just remarkable for any application.”
Here the three experts offer 10 smart-space ideas.
In Its Place
1. Avoid visual clutter, which is both unproductive and unnecessary,
says Randi K. She emphasizes organizing office files and designating
places for keys, wallets and phones in convenient places like entrance
hallways and mudrooms.
2. Make it easier to find clothing in your closet by hanging items for
maximum visibility, says Harig. Store pants and skirts high and blouses
or shirts low, even though, instinctively, most people hang them
according to how they dress. Put sweaters on shelves so you can see them
every day and determine whether you want to keep them, Harig adds.
3. Use those less-accessible corner shelf spaces — often found in
closets and kitchen cabinets — wisely. They’re ideal spaces for extra
items you don’t use every day or week.
The Right Combination
4. Seek out furniture that can perform double duty. Small side tables
are nice accent pieces in a living room or family room, but may also be
moved to a bathroom or spare bedroom to accommodate towels or personal
items for guests. Drop-leaf tables save space and, of course, expand
when needed. Rooms can serve more than one purpose too. A spare bedroom
can function as an everyday home office with the right-sized furniture.
Replace that large office hutch with a slimmer desk and filing cabinet —
a realistic option in today’s world of portable laptops.
5. Don’t waste the space tucked under a set of stairs. Shelves and
cubbies can help store shoes and other accessible items, or provide
storage for seasonal items.
6. Use an enclosed back-porch area as space for first-floor laundry
and/or a mudroom.
7. Combine furniture, cabinets and storage-unit styles, hues and
textures, says Harig, who notes a departure from yesteryear’s
“matchy-matchy” mindset. Take advantage of more wood-grain and colorful
options. Also, look for an ever-growing array of eco-friendly furniture
“so we don’t add to the carbon footprint,” Harig adds.
Light The Way
8. LED lights are manufactured in versatile, long strips so you can
place them under cabinets as well as along the lower edge of an island
for conveniently illuminated task lighting or to create a roomwide
nightlight. These strips can also be swirled around an object as an
artsy focal point or to create a functional chandelier.
9. Set a style with ever-growing bulb options. Edison-shaped bulbs are
popular to fashion an industrial look, while filament lighting of
various shapes and sizes — think a heart, for one — provides other
10. LED lighting comes in both warm and cool hues. Warm lighting is best
for areas of relaxation, such as a living room, den or bedroom. Cool
lights are for tasks and best used in offices, closets or other storage
areas. “There are a lot of options for brightness and temperature,”
Albert says. “When you are in a specialty lighting store, it’s best to