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Overcoming Spatial Awkwardness

I once lived in an apartment with an entertainment center that was way too big for my tiny living room. I lived in fear of it toppling over onto me while I watched My Best Friends Wedding for the ninth time. Thankfully it never did. Being a renter I didn’t have carte blanche to make many modifications to the apartment to fit my stuff better; but hopefully you can. Here are some great tips and tricks to cure spatial awkwardness in your home.

4 Ideas to Cure Claustrophobia in Small Spaces:

1.Paint is usually the simplest and least expensive update you can make in your home. Using cooler color tones like grey-blues, light greens and neutrals can bring a sense of openness to a smaller room. Also painting trim pieces one shade lighter than the walls will make the walls appear to recede. Think about your furnishings when choosing your paint color. You want it all to blend so that the eye moves around the room uninterrupted. But with all small spaces, keep furniture and decorative pieces to a minimum. This also applies to drapery. Either use fabric that is the same color as the walls or consider a sheer to let in as much light as possible.

2.Many fashion rules are transferable to home décor. Although horizontal striped pants may not show us in our best light, painting wide horizontal lines on our walls will help to broaden a space just as using vertical lines can help heighten a room. Use a chair rail to define horizontal sections and consider painting the walls below the chair a slightly darker tone than above.

3.Hardwood flooring can lengthen a room if you lay the floorboards in the same direction of the longest wall. You can trick an eye into believing that there is an abundance of square footage simply showing off the floor pattern so keep as much of the floor exposed and limit the use of area rugs.

4.Use light to your advantage. Light and reflective surfaces add more visual space to a room. Consider strategically placing a mirror or two to help light bounce around a room. Shinier floors can also help reflect light so there’s another reason to keep the floors as exposed as possible.

5.Does your ceiling have a Napoleon Complex?

Making a room appear taller is as simple as using elements that draw the eye upward. Don’t overcompensate with big bulky furniture or bold colors. Vertically painted strips in neutral or cool colors can help achieve this but beware, using vertical stripes in a small room can make a room look cluttered if not done properly. Consider using tall, narrow wainscoting instead. Hang drapery at least a few inches higher than the window box, if not just below the ceiling and paint your ceiling a shade or two lighter than your walls to open the room up.

Could Shaq live here?

If you’re ceiling is so high you could install a basketball hoop, you might want to start with simple changes like adding high bookcases or a tall plant to bring the height of the ceiling more inline with the rest of the room. Use crown molding to ease the transition from wall to ceiling. It’s important to choose the appropriate size of crown molding to fit the height of the room. Ceiling heights of 8’ should have molding between 3” – 5 ¼”. Ceiling heights of 9” & 10” can fit molding of 5 ¼” – 7” but any rooms with ceiling height over 10’ requires a multi layered build up and sizes can vary.

Another unique idea is to install crown molding about 12 inches below the ceiling and then paint above it a darker color than the walls. You can even carry that color onto the ceiling about 12” – 18” finished with a small trim piece to create the illusion of a soffit or vaulted ceiling.


When is open space TOO open?

It seems like all new construction and renovated homes are built on an open floor plan these days. While the openness is appreciated, too much openness can be awkward if the spaces are clearly defined. Use furnishings to define the different areas. Furnishings should be on scale with the space and the color tones should match. Using different tones of the same color, in a large space with multiple wall angles, can give the illusion of a cozier space. Warmer colors work best (yellows, reds, oranges). If there is a high contrast from paint colors to furnishings it will help to create smaller groupings within, making each area of the room seem more intimate.

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