My experience with this topic comes from my last move from a house with about 1600 square feet to a 500 square foot duplex. After my first thoughts of wondering how I would be able to function in such a small space with a large dog and a husband, I began planning with the hope of making the transition as painless as possible. Here are a few things I have learned about living in a small space:
1) Simple Space Plan
Luckily, I had access to my new place before actually moving in, so I was able to take a few measurements. This was crucial because after the move most of my furniture would be inaccessible in a storage unit on the opposite side of the state. Once I had a few wall measurements, I was able to create a couple furniture layouts. This helped to determine what furniture I already owned would actually fit. I ended up taking only what I knew would work in the space, already knowing exactly where it would go.
2) Multipurpose Furniture
A must for making the best of a small space is utilizing furniture with multiple functions. The petite coffee table in front of my television is a trunk which we also use to store extra pillows and blankets. Our drop leaf (space saver) dining table also has six drawers where we store placemats, napkins, and even overflow office supplies. The sideboard that lived in the dining room of our last house used to hold table linens and a couple serving platters. Now it has a large basket on one of the two shelves where our laptops are kept out of view when not in use and on the second shelf I keep a jewelry box. In the side cabinets of the sideboard live craft supplies, dish towels, cameras and other electronic gadgets, gift wrapping supplies and a couple of photo albums. Our office, by the way, is a just desk in between the living area and the kitchen, hence the need to store supplies elsewhere!
3) Strategic Décor
Choosing the best decorative accessories for a small space can be tricky. The scale of the items should be in sync to the smallness of the space, yet too many small items can quickly turn into disheveled clutter. A few bold pieces, like a pair of large decorative vases, are preferable to a large number of smaller items. Hanging a large mirror on the wall to reflect light is also a great tool for helping to make a small space feel larger.
4) Color Scheme
Don’t be afraid to incorporate bold colors into your home but be sure to keep the number of colors to a minimum. An effective way to accomplish this is to install window treatments that are the same color as the walls. This approach creates the illusion of a larger space by preventing the windows from breaking up the visual continuity of the wall. The window coverings will just blend in which will visually expand the space. As for what colors to choose, House Beautiful features a great selection of recommended paint colors for small spaces. Please see below for examples on just how easy it is to match your wall color to your window treatments.
While it took some getting used to, I have grown quite accustomed to small space living. Along the way, I have learned that it is possible to fit everything a small family really needs into 500 square feet and the best part, house cleaning takes a fraction of the time!