LIVING IN TIGHT QUARTERS

in
October 29, 2017

Dear Debbie;
I’ve just moved into a tiny condo, 500 sq. ft., and am not sure what furniture to buy. There’s a small bedroom and bathroom with shower, no tub. The kitchen runs against one wall with floor to ceiling windows on the opposite wall. Any help is appreciated.
Thomas

Dear Thomas;

I have just spent a week living on a sail boat. We had the most incredible time, but it was also a design lesson about small-space living. There were many clever ideas in these tight living quarters that could be transferred from boat to home. Here are some tips to keep in mind that will help you get the most out of every square foot of your new living space.

Freestanding furniture takes up room, so where possible, have your bed or sofa lined up against a wall. Bunk beds and banquets work wonders. Don’t be concerned about placing a couch or chairs in front of the large windows. A bare wall can then be used to build in a combination of open and closed storage, a focal wall that includes space for art and one or two accent pieces. A low shelf will also act as a table top.

In the bedroom, raise the bed high enough so that you can slide bins underneath, or buy a bed that has built-in drawers. I was thirteen when I was awarded a bedroom of my own, finally separated from my siblings. It was in a converted old bathroom. Although the room was not much wider than a single bed, I loved it for the simple reason that it was mine. But I did have to be super inventive with storage. Shelves and baskets are self-evident for any teenager. I hung wire flower baskets from the ceiling, without the flowers of course. These were perfect for hairbrushes, clips and makeup, the staples of any teen. I hung shelves made from found wood and chains, and stuck apple crates under my bed.

On the boat’s deck, the coffee tables swivelled, which made it easy to get into and out of seating. This is such a great idea for a small condo. You could simply attach wheels to a coffee table. The large wooden dining table easily sat us all comfortably because of its angled corners. It’s the perfect solution to continuously bruised thighs from banging into the corners of a square or rectangular table.

Sofas and chairs with bare legs give the illusion of space and an airy feeling to your room. You don’t have to go minimalist, but keep clutter at bay. Enrich your room with textured finishes and cheerful colours.

Ceilings are underused today; they are not just for hanging lighting. Screw in hooks, safely secured with wall plugs, and devise your own storage solutions. Hang baskets or shelves over a table, counter, sink or in a corner so that you are not bumping into it. You might decide to decorate the ceiling with a rich paint colour or finish. This will heighten your view and make the space appear larger.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie’s new website, www.debbietravis.com.