“In small spaces, function over form is almost always required… almost”
I love beautiful things. I love wide open spaces. I love family photos and vases full of wildflowers. Farmhouse tables. French doors. Christmas trees and cozy sectionals.
While that’s all fine and good, I really have to make good choices about what I use to decorate my home. For example, a Christmas tree is a space-hog in itself, but then finding a spot for a full-sized nativity, piles of presents, and all the other decorations that come with Christmas? Not to mention finding the space to store all of that!
Home décor is nice, but it is a luxury. Not a necessity. And unfortunately, in a small home, it just adds to the clutter.
Thankfully, you don’t have to live in an empty house just because it’s small! There are plenty of beautiful things out there that can be functional while adding character and warmth to your home. Here are just a handful of the ways we have maximized the space in our home while keeping things clutter-free, warm, and inviting… at least to us.
You know you remember that episode of Saturday Night Live! Where every item in the shop has a small opening to put your weed in. Well, we don’t have any weed. But we do have a lot of books, DVDs, toys, games, spices, food, clothes, shoes… and they all have to go somewhere! To meet our needs, we have a small leather storage ottoman. The house is full of baskets, mainly to store the Pickle’s toys. I even have nice wicker baskets in the kitchen to store small appliances & bread. In my sewing corner I use mason jars to store ribbons and buttons. And all over the house I have recovered boxes to keep odds and ends at bay.
When you are desperate for space, you’ll find that some of the most unlikely of places suddenly become highly functional. We have a large area at the bottom of our staircase. There is more than enough room for a person to turn the corner, so why not use that extra space! For a year now it has housed a toy shelf for the Pickle. Our kitchen boasts an awkward little nook that we’ve transformed into a coffee prep area. And my sewing? Upstairs in our bedroom, there is just the right amount of space between the armoire and the window to have a sweet little rustic table and all my sewing gear. I’ve even hung hooks on our utility closet door for our coats, bags and purses.
I grew up in the wide-open plains of Kansas. So imagine my surprise when I moved to the tiny island of Taiwan and found myself in a city crammed full of towering high-rises and three-story restaurants. What they lacked in horizontal space, they ingeniously made up for in vertical! And the same goes for our small home. My husband is sick of me adding shelves everywhere. We have two above our “coffee stand”, I have one at my sewing table. We have a shelf/medicine cabinet that has added glorious storage space to our bathroom. I just added one above my bedside table. And we even have one above our dining table- for random things like pencils, scissors, and a Kleenex box. When buying furniture for a small space, you would do well to think vertically rather than horizontally. After all… it’s your space. Use it!
Make it Work:
Before our baby arrived, friends and family generously gave us all the furniture we would need for her room. However, people were so generous that we received both a changing table and a dresser with a changing table top. While we didn’t need two changing tables, we could definitely use the dresser (vertical!) but were struggling to find a place to put it… until I opened the closet. The classic changing table stayed in the room, while the dresser fit perfectly in her closet, just below her hangers of tiny pink onesies and soft white gowns. It worked… and still does. We also have trouble in our kitchen with its two small drawers. You heard me. Two. We have room for a tray of silverware and a handful of utensils. Beyond that, I have had to get creative with our kitchen space. I know that the best way to keep a kitchen uncluttered is by keeping the counters completely clear. But that’s not an option for us. So we have used a beautiful piece from Thailand to hold our spices, a bright red utensil holder, a two-tiered fruit basket, and we have taken advantage of the ample space above our cabinets for ‘displayed’ storage.
I use a lot of those fabric hanging shelves in our closets. We store things under all of the beds. We even keep our computers, textbooks, and lap tables under the couch when we’re not using them! Our coat closet doubles as a pantry. Our TV stand doubles as a toy box. And we use our kitchen table to make cookies, roll out homemade noodles, and piece together quilts.
What are some other creative, beautiful, or functional ways you have used the space you’re in?
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