How To | Making a Small Family Room Cozy

The family room is one of the most used rooms in the house with the exception of the kitchen. It’s a gathering place, a relaxing space, and entertainment area, and often one of the most seen rooms in your home. You want it to look good, feel good, and hold up to wear and tear. But if you’ve got a small family room, you may be frustrated because it feels cramped or you can fit enough seating in it for the number of people you’d like to accomodate. We get it. Small spaces can be tricky. So today we’re talking about how to furnish and decorate a small family room space.

The first and most obvious thing to do is to scale down your furniture. The thing about small spaces is that the furniture can’t fill them up if you want people to be in the space as well. So evaluate the type of furniture you’re using. Are the pieces streamlined and not overly bulky? Of course you want them to be comfortable but space is everything. So if you need to replace your super fluffy, oversized sofa with something that’s not as fluffy but still comfortable, then that’s what you need to do. A rolled arm on a sofa is basically a whole entire seat on a track arm sofa and that’s valuable property. Consider your chairs too. Some reading or accent chairs can be really deep and the back may even slant taking up additional space. Scale those stylized things down and use the space for more people or more seats instead.

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The next thing to think about when assessing your furniture is the number of functions it can have. The less pieces in a small space, the better. So the more each piece of your furniture does for you, the better. Little ottomans are great because they act as a foot rest, an extra seat, and a coffee table depending on how you use them. They’re also light weight and moveable so they’re a great multi-functional piece. Select case goods with lots of hidden storage. Those hidden storage compartments will be a life saver when you’re trying to make the space convenient for friends and also keep it tidy.

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When laying out a small space, use your wall space! This can be hard because walls may be taken up by windows or doors, but start with wall space when determining where to put your furniture. You’re not going to be able to float a seating area in the middle of the room anyway, so your walls will dictate a lot about how the room lays out. Be sure to use your corners too! A sectional that turns the corner adds a whole additional seat that two pieces of furniture perpendicular to each other would not.

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Be sure to add lots of light so that the room doesn’t feel like a cave. If you have great windows and they’re enough, awesome! If you don’t though, think about adding little wall-mount sconces or skinny and tall floor lamps that won’t take up a lot of surface area. Lighting is important! Don’t overlook it!

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Finally, keep it fresh by adding greenery. Greenery always keeps a space cozy and inviting and also helps with air purification. Even the tiniest plant makes an impact!

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Bedrooms | Making Small Rooms Feel Bigger

Although this may be titled "bedrooms", the tips we'll be sharing can really apply to any small space so don't feel like the information is only for the bedroom.  Store it away in your "helpful info" for the house manual and use it whenever you're feeling cramped.

For starters, don't be afraid of dark colors.  We agree with the fact that lighter colors make spaces feel open and more breezy, instead of being stiff, however dark colors can work in small spaces too.  We're typically not a fan of the accent wall when it has to do with paint (wallpaper is a different story)....however, a small space is one area where this can work for you.  Since darker colors can make a space feel deeper, one wall in a darker shade can actually make the room feel longer.

Although we're big fans of a nice heavy, lined drape, small rooms really don't need any additional heaviness on the walls so going for something a little lighter is going to make the space feel more airy and open.  Sheers are absolutely a thing so don't feel like you can't use them on windows.  We love sheers in the right application too!  And a small room is one of them!

Have an obvious focal point.  In a bedroom, this would be the bed wall.  You may choose a nice upholstered headboard or maybe just some fun art above the bed, whatever it is, don't be scared to do something a little dramatic or different.  Since you don't want crazy pattern all over a small space, use your pattern-appropriate areas wisely and go for it!

So many people get caught up on the furniture and needing more of it, however, small spaces are limiting when it comes to how much furniture you can have before it feels crowded.  Don't be afraid to bring in less to make it feel like more.  For example, not every bed needs two bedside tables.  If you only have room for one, you only have room for one.  You can still make the bed wall feel balanced by placing a floor lamp on the other side or even a tall plant....just something to give the other side of the bed height.  Maybe your bed wall only has one window on it forcing the bed into a corner.  That's ok!  Center whatever art you put on that wall over the bed rather than making it centered on the wall.  This will create a little focal point and make the asymmetrical wall make a little more sense.

Taking less floor space and using more wall space is key in small spaces and scale matters!  Using big art in small spaces can make walls feel taller and wider, so don't be afraid to fill the walls with big art!  Also, consider your floor space--for example, if you're really strapped and hardly have room for much more than a bed, install sconces!  This creates your focal point and frees up some floor space while still allowing you some light!

We're not going to lie, small spaces can be a challenge, but they can also turn out to be lots of fun!  Hopefully these tips have helped you with some small space dilemmas you might be facing!

Too Much Stuff | I Spy Storage

Even with the recession and the move towards a more minimalist lifestyle we, as Americans, always have too much stuff and not enough places to keep it.  It's just the way America is.  Organization is part of it but space is definitely important.  The trick is, seeing the space you have and using it the best way possible.  Space is great but when it's poorly used, it becomes wasted.  So today we're going to go over some ways that you can add storage to the existing space you own.

The number one, overall way to add space is to go up.  Storage doesn't have to be in a closet or hidden, it can just be a well organized shelf too.  So the first thing to do is look for wall space.  If you can carve out an area of un-used wall space, you're already on the right track to adding storage.  

Once you find the wall space, determine what you need storage for.  If it's smaller items like books, pictures, or even plants or dishes, try adding some floating shelves right up near the ceiling.  A long floating shelf adds lots of storage and offers a place where things can be stacked neatly or even display all while being out-of-the-way.

If clothing or bags is your problem, use that wall space for a series of hooks that you can hang coats, hats, or bags on.  You might have to plan it out so that the spacing works for the item sizes you're hanging but a little planning is nothing compared to all the extra space you'll have in your closet!  If you're going to have this kindof display in your home, consider the location too.  A mudroom or entryway might be the best place for a wall like this so that the hanging items are accessible upon entering and exiting the house.

Adding exposed bars in the kitchen or bathroom is also a great way to add storage. A few hooks and you've got the pots & pans cabinet free for more un-sightly items.  Have a growing coffee mug collection and need some place to keep it?  An exposed bar with hooks offers lots of hanging space for those fun pieces.  Don't be scared to put items on display.  These little additions to your home make it unique and cozy.

There are a lot of places that people forget can be used for storage.  The area over a door frame is good for adding shelving and the back of a door is a great place for hooks to hide.  Additionally, there are all sorts of hanging storage pieces that will fit perfectly on the back of a door and create lots of more customized storage space for very little money.

Get creative and think outside of the box!  Make storage pull double-duty and be decorative as well!

Tips & Tools | Small Space Living

Let's be honest, we're all coming out of this recession that hit America not too long ago.  Many of us have somewhat recovered but not many of us have fully recovered.  So while we love our big homes, we may not all still be living in them.  Small spaces can be design challenges but so can large spaces, so don't get all upset if you have a design issue in your small space and feel like it could just be remedied with a  larger home.  Today, instead of focusing on all the things that we dislike about our small space, we're going to discuss some easy tools and tips to use to help fix the issues so we love our home even more!

The first thing to remember is that your space can still be awesome even if it's small.  Don't feel like you have to sacrifice style or function just because it's smaller.  Small spaces can be snazzy too, don't sell them short.

The balance in a small space is having all the function and keeping some space, so you do have to get creative about selections.  When making color choices for a small space, it's probably best to go with lighter, more airy colors for the big things--walls, furniture-- keep them open feeling.  Focus more on streamlined and sleek rather than ornate and chunky--you'll be able to fit more and have more function without the room feeling heavy and cluttered.

As always, accentuate height.  Use tall art and hang window treatments high to draw the eye up and give the illusion that the space is big.  If you don't have tall ceilings or high windows and still want to try to draw your eye up, try using furniture and art to accomplish this--vertical lines work well to draw the eye upward, but also consider the tops of tall pieces of furniture.  Items placed up high will make people look up high!  Utilize those spaces so they work to your advantage.

Hide messes.  We know that there are just going to be those areas that are to store things.  They don't look pretty but they're there.  Hide these!  We know they're necessary to have but it's not necessary to see them.  Less mess makes a space feel more open.  Try to contain yours.

Bring in the natural light!  Light and reflection immediately brighten a space and make it feel more open.  A dark space feels closed and crowded while a light bright space feels open and airy.  If you only have a few windows, make the most of the light the provide and don't treat them with heavy drapery.  If you don't have many windows and feel that your home seems dark even with the windows open, try hanging a mirror where it catches and reflects the natural light from the window.  This doubles the light you have available to you without trying to build in a new window.

Finally, open up the center of your room.  If this means that furniture needs to be pushed against the wall, that's ok.  In a perfect world, it wouldn't have to be but if it's necessary, it's something we can work with!

Ultimately, we want you to love your space!  It's never fun living where you don't love to be.  So invest time in making your house a home.



Make the List & Check it Twice | Furniture

We have a lot of personal staples---great lighting, a mirror, pillows, a variety of textures...but if you have a small space, there are certain pieces of furniture that work best to create the finished space you want without taking up too much space of their own.

Obviously, everyone needs to have somewhere to eat in their home so when you're picking a table for a space that's smaller, you need to be smart with your selection.  Have you ever noticed that most kitchen nooks are round?  So round tables sit in them...and yet they can still seat 4or 5 people... This is what you need for a small space.  Round tables on a single stand take up a lot less space and can still seat a good number of people...not to mention, it keeps the flow of a small space--square or rectangular tables have sharp edges and straight lines that end a space visually.  So go for that when selecting a dining table for a smaller home!

Small spaces can always use some sort of illusion to make them feel larger--for this, we recommend a large mirror.  We're not sure how many posts we have where we've discussed large mirrors but we know it's a lot!  And that's because they work!  Not only do they open up a space and reflect the light but they are decorative too so they almost feel like artwork.  If you've got a small space you absolutely need a large mirror.  Lean it, hang it, turn it horizontal, whatever you need to do, but get it in your house to make it feel bigger.

Of course everybody needs furniture in their home but with a smaller home, you have to make that furniture work hard for you.  When selecting seating, make sure to go with smaller scale--if you need an arm chair, get 2 smaller ones rather than one giant one.  Make sure they have arms too so you get a more finished look.  If you need side tables (which you do!), get a set of nesting tables that can be stored stacked or separated and used in different parts of the room.  If you need more seating and the space just won't hold anymore chairs or sofas, try incorporating a bench.  Visually, it doesn't take up a lot of room but it can add at least two more seats to your family room!  Small ottomans work the same way--they're great moveable seating AND they're versatile.  They can be used as a footrest or additional seating plus they store easily!

Overall, you have to be smart with your furniture selections in a small space.  You don't want to sacrifice style but you definitely need to consider scale and function!