As we city folk know, it's not always easy to make a small space renovation both functional and (insert Carrie Bradshaw voice), "fabulous." Small square footage can sometimes feel like it's forcing your hand to go the "minimalist" route with your design and decor, to avoid over-cluttering and overwhelming your home.
This is where a few tricks of the trade from a design professional can really go a long way. Just because a space is small, it doesn't mean you can't apply your own style to it. Is your natural aesthetic bohemian chic? Do you own more potted plants than the flower shop next door? Or more wall art than a small gallery? Don’t fret, that can also work in a 650 square foot condo. In the end, it's really just about proper planning, and maximizing every inch of your new space.
Lets start with the kitchen, for example. In a smaller condo you realize very quickly how important an exceptionally functional kitchen becomes. First, we highly suggest installing your upper cabinets tight to the ceiling, not only increasing your storage but adding visual height to the space. Leaving that foot (or sometimes more) between the cabinets and ceiling creates dead, and often dusty space. Also consider maximizing your lower cabinet storage with drawers instead of your standard cabinet with interior shelves. Drawers are becoming the new standard for good kitchen planning, allowing you to easily access and see all your items at once.
A final creative kitchen tip? Use your under counter drawers as a pantry, and for dry produce storage. Too often we see largely under utilized spaces dedicated to pantry storage - so this alternative can be a great option for a small footprint, and keep the space feeling open and organized.
Another extremely important item when you’re thinking of buying and renovating a small condo? Take inventory of your needs before you start talking design. Have you purged all your unnecessary items? Have you thought about how accessible the items you need must be? Do you want some displayed? Some hidden away in an attic or basement? Once your mental rolodex of necessities is complete, you can convey all of this to your designer or architect and proceed from there. This will again optimize your space, and also be decidedly helpful in keeping your small home clean and tidy. Which is also vital in making the space seem bigger than it really is.
At Grayscale, we have also found that incorporating custom pieces into your redesign can be exponentially helpful. For example, in the image below there was actually a soffit running from the basement all the way to the third floor - making it extremely difficult for this client to find a place for the table and chairs she wanted in the kitchen. We quickly resolved this issue by contracting a custom table that fit perfectly around the soffit. This allowed her to have the layout she desired, without using up any unnecessary space. Which again, in a small apartment, is key. We understand custom pieces can certainly be an investment, but in the end we have found their convenience + functionality far outweighs their price.
A few other things to keep in mind? Never forget that natural light is your friend, and that the higher the ceilings, often the better. Above all - remember to do you! Your home is your temple. It is your place to relax, be yourself, and feel calm + comfortable. Don’t feel obligated to design it a certain way due to space limitations. Using these tips, we’re certain your can find the perfect balance between functional and *fabulous.* Whatever that may mean for you!