The real key to living gracefully in a small home is ingenuity in creating storage space.
Put drawers in and under everything possible. Use pocket doors. Build storage to fit alcoves, nooks and crannies. The end walls of long narrow rooms are often a good possibility too.
Commit Blasphemy. Closet space is sacred space to most of us, but consider whether you can gain valuable real estate by knocking out one or two and figuring out some other avenues for storage.
If you are desperate enough, you may finally get around to weeding out all the old junk and un-wearable clothing.
Reconstructive Surgery. If you tear up at the prospect of killing a closet and the closet in question is at least thirty-six inches deep, you are in luck. The back twelve inches can be fitted with adjustable shelves, (think shoes or maybe seasonal storage) while the front twenty-four inches can be dedicated to hanging clothes. Extra credit for using two clothing bars at different levels. The closet will hold double the number of your shorter items like shirts, jackets, skirts, and pants hung over the hanger cross rod.
Be Counter-Intuitive. Standard counter height is about thirty-six inches. Can you manage with a lower counter height? The lower the counter, the greater the illusion of a bigger space. In the same spirit, floor to ceiling cabinets are room-size killers because the ceiling surface is reduced.
Work those walls too. Install shelves in corner spaces and hang up as much as is reasonable, like the pots and pans or bedside lighting.
Shine A Light. While saving space and paring down is essential, don’t opt for recessed lighting (or any ceiling mounted lighting for that matter) and think this will be all you need. For starters overhead lighting of this type can be too much of a commercial look for homes.
More importantly, no one looks good under it.
Use this type of lighting as wall washers (good for lighting art) or for no more than ambient lighting to erase dark corners. Standing floor lamps and wall mounted fixtures no only won’t take up much space but also earn their keep by going a very long way towards showing your home in the best light, literally.
Use pairs where you can. Symmetry and balance helps small spaces look unified and less chaotic (and distracting) than having one-off pieces of everything everywhere.
There is no such thing as random accident chic. Whether your home is space deprived or spacious, thought must be given to all aspects of building the home design that’s perfect for you.
Every gesture you make should be considered. You’re better off with a few well-considered pieces of furniture rather than several small ones. If you have many favorite things that you don’t want to live without, how about the idea of rotating them in and out of the room a few times a year? This is a great way to keep a fresh look.
Good Housekeeping 101. Be meticulous with not only in your choices, but (it must be said) with your housekeeping too.
Clutter is never a good look.
In the end, it’s really not about size. Any space large or small can be be beautiful and livable with your personal stamp on it.
You can make it work, if you work it.
The original version of this post was published on Hamptons.com in 2011. It’s represented here as a foundation for further topic discussion.