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Savvy Living
10 smart-space ideas for your home


Dec. 2017

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 space.”

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.

 Everything 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 accents.

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 ask a professional.”


This story ran in the Dec. 2017 issue of: