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Big new ideas for small spaces

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  • Transitional style
  • An efficient footprint

    Fewer formal spaces: Open floor plans are well suited to small spaces. The idea is to use every space in as many ways as possible.

    Offices absent: Laptops and other portable devices make it possible to work almost anywhere. You’re less likely to find someone sitting alone in a room behind a large desk.

    Streamlined furnishings: Grand pieces clutter smaller spaces. Even the television takes up less space today, thanks to flat-screen designs.



High-rise uptown condos and strands of suburban apartment communities are coloring Charlotte’s landscape, proof that bigger is not better for everyone.

And home furnishing companies are catering to this expanding market. As a result, consumers can fit lots of new comforts in a modest footprint.

With a smart approach to design, smaller spaces can be efficient, elegant and welcoming, experts say.

Here are some of their tips for making even the tiniest small space something special:

Scale down

Sleek, clean lines and simple designs do better in small spaces, says home design and staging expert Wendy Field, owner of Field Consulting in Charlotte. This improved futon Beddinge sofa bed from Ikea (starting at $279) has that uncluttered look that keeps a room feeling spacious. Smaller appliances might also be the best choice. Refrigerator drawers can be built alongside the lower cabinets. A small washer, this one by Haier (about $230), can be stored in a closet.

Make everything multitask

Use tables and chairs in different shapes and sizes. Those pieces can transition from dinnertime buffet to office or homework space. Choose a small chest of drawers for a bedroom night stand for extra storage. A coffee table should also have storage.

Choose moveable pieces

Ottomans and chairs or a guest bed can be in the middle of the room one minute, then pushed against the wall the next to make room for more people or games. This one-bedroom Eastover condo has a small galley kitchen that opens to the living room. The stools can be used for seating or as side tables, says designer Cathy Diel of Diel Design & Interiors. Many ottomans also have storage areas.

Use vertical space

Preventing clutter is a challenge in a small space, says Jennifer Foresman, senior manager of trend and design for Home Depot. Here, shelves and cabinets conceal personal items, as well as the bed when not being used. The same approach to keeping things tidy can be used in an office.

Splurge

It makes sense to spend a little more to dress up a powder room or tiny kitchen because pricy materials will be used in small quantities. Use high-end flooring, wallpaper or marble that you could not afford in a large space, says Foresman. Las Vegas designer Taylor Borsari decorated this powder room with silver-leaf pattern on limestone tile from Walker Zanger, which has a Charlotte location. The sink is concrete.

Be bold

Color is the least expensive way to dramatically change a room. Vibrant tones are fine for a small space, Foresman says. Contrasting colors can have a huge impact, giving a room dimension or drawing the eye to architectural details. Diel recommends limiting the palette to two or three colors. In this room, a wide stripe behind the bed is used to make the ceiling feel taller.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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