Interior Design for Small Spaces

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Interior Design for Small Spaces

Last month in our blog post “Building and Construction Trends that matter Most” we reported that the average size of a home today has gone from 1600 SF in 1973 to over 2500 SF in 2012 – a change of nearly 60%. 

And while that trend may apply to rural and suburban areas, it is not the case in the urban areas where micro-lofts are becoming a new buzz word with several advantages including living in more ideal locations and lower housing costs. 

Today we'll check out some examples of these new small spaces, how they are transforming the grandiose architecture and design trends that we see every day and challenging designers, architects and builders to create stylish spaces that are more compact and functional.

New York City Microloft

In this project, recently featured in the Residential Architect & Design Awards for 2013, architect Scott of Specht Harpman, and building firm, Caudro Interiors, created a stylish microloft that took advantage of every possible architectural detail to keep the space clean, create an open environment, and add function to the 320 square foot space.








What they Did:

Take advantage of vertical space

This gives the apartment a larger feel.  It allowed for separate living and sleeping areas, a unique attribute since microlofts normally feature rooms that convert from dining room by day and pull out couch sleeping area by night.



Take advantage of the lighting

This microloft had the advantage of a green roof terrace that spills in a lot of natural light, helping the space feel more open.  It also allowed for the use of dark wood flooring, matching wood stairs and paneling around the loft area. Normally a dark wood floor  is not a good fit for small space because it can make the room look smaller and closed in.  The combination of the bright, white walls and natural lighting allowed for more interior design freedom.

Dark Wood Flooring is a great fit in this New York Microloft featured on the Residential Architect site.



Create more Functional Furniture and Spaces

In many homes we picture the stairs and underneath the stairs as closed off and dead space.  They aren't really needed when you have mudrooms, pantries, laundry rooms, and closets in every bedroom.  But when space counts all hidden areas serve a greater purpose.   

In this project every space from the cabinets and under the stairs.  Well thought built in cabinets serve a purpose without taking up space to keep the space clean.

Aside from cabinets and shelving good planning is super important when it comes to furniture design and construction.  According to 4 Ideas for Living Large in Small Spaces by Laura Drucker, you want to select furniture that services more than one purpose. 

What used to be a comfortable couch for your living room can now be designed to serve as a pull out couch either for yourself or for a guest – if you happen to have the luxury of a private bedroom already. 

Use your couches and chairs for storage or create adaptive benches and tables that can double as a temporary sleeping area.

Select a rolling island that can serve as prep counter for meal preparation, drawing desk for arts & crafts or computer desk when it is time to work.

View all project details and photo credits here.

Portland Microloft

Going from 1200 square feet to less than 300 requires an adjustment.  That is what Michelle and Gary Hogue did when they moved into a space at Everett Microlofts.  In this story by we learn about some of the interior design and construction challenges that had to be tackled to make the new space work.

What they did:

Curtains take on a new meaning

One of the most important things you can do when you move into a small space, according to 4 Ideas for Living Large in Small Spaces by Laura Drucker is to section your space.  For most people a curtains sole function is to hang from a window or door to separate the outside from the inside but in this microloft it now serves as bedroom wall and door to allow a little privacy from the sleeping and eating areas.  The curtains are adjustable and they add a decorative effect to the space too.  According to Drucker you can also use area rugs and strategically place your furniture for a stylish and functional layout.

Learn to Cook more Creatively

The ability to cook a meal for your family may be something you take for granted especially if your kitchen is the same size as this entire microloft.  When it came to designing the kitchen space dishwashers, ovens, and wine racks aren't going to fit.  Instead you get a state of the art fridge and microwave and learn to be a little more creative in your cooking strategies.   This is where selecting good appliances can make all the difference. 

Storage & Shelves

When you are designing a microloft every available square inch matters.  When it comes to your kitchen make the space above the cabinets available for open storage.  










Any micro-loft can benefit from a well built, and well-designed shelves for photos, multimedia and books.  And if you don't have the luxury of shelves, you can use the multimedia as your shelves.  Notice how in this HGTV project the bedroom/living room wall has CD's and books stacked against it.  This creates a somewhat artistic effect while allowing for greater organization.

Rethink your Decor

When you don't have much space what are some thing you can do to decorate without taking up that precious space? 










In the Hogue house walls are accented by mirrors, which create the illusion of more space.  Go for different sizes and incorporate them into the overall decor and combine them with other artistic elements.  For example, in this loft there is an interesting collection of masks on display above the mirrors. 

In another example from HGTV, you can use spaces like your kitchen cabinets, and decorative lighting or your ceiling to add art to your space, without taking up space,

See the complete story and read more here.

Even though you live in a small space doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice style.  Working with a talented architect, designer or builder can make all the difference.  Some steps toward designing the perfect small space include:

  • Proper Space Planning for every room
  • Proper color selection
  • Enhancing or Incorporating natural or built in lighting
  • Adaptive Furniture Design

If you are looking for more ideas check out the great Pinterest site Teeny Tiny [Houses] and Apartment Therapy for some fun ideas.

Have you lived in or designed a microloft?  Have you recently moved into a smaller space?  What design elements were important to you? What did you have to let go of?

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