|Visual weight is important when deciding what furniture to pick for your new, smaller space.
DOWNSIZING your living space presents the fun aspect of decorating a new home. Think of it as an opportunity to live in the space you’ve always dreamed of, or to try a new design style on for size. Whatever your square footage, reducing your space doesn’t mean limiting your style. Here are a few tips to make the downsizing transition a beautiful one.
First, decide on a design direction for your new space. Do you still love your current pieces or has their lustre worn off? Are you craving a brand new look or do you love the décor style you’ve developed over the years? Your new space, potentially with different views or a unique layout, may inspire you to try something different, or inject small changes to work with existing pieces. In either case, have a plan for the general look of your new home as a roadmap to assist you in editing what you have, or in purchasing new items.
Secondly, plan your space according to the measurements. In smaller spaces especially, measuring accurately and plotting where furniture works best helps to avoid costly mistakes. Think about scale – a large sectional that originally worked in a basement may crowd a condo living room. Think about visual weight as well – if every piece of furniture is bulky and overstuffed, a small space will likely feel overcrowded. Scale, and the relationship between furniture items, is very important in a small space so measure carefully before you move pieces in.
There are many excellent resources for space planning. One of my favourite online tools is icovia.com, which allows you to draw your space and insert digital furniture pieces in appropriate sizes. Additionally, many furniture retailers employ in-store design consultants that can assist you in creating a floorplan best suited for your space. Lastly, many interior designers offer a one or two hour in-home consultation, which is a great option when you might be looking for personalized design direction. An in-home consultation with a designer is a great opportunity to present images of your current pieces and discuss how your current items might translate in your new small space.
If you still feel at a loss for where to begin, try building an inspiration board for your new space. This can include favourite floorplan layouts, examples of beautiful rooms from magazines, swatches of beautiful fabrics or images that evoke the feeling or style you want to achieve in your new home. Gather these items in a box or folder that act as a reference point throughout your decorating process.
Additionally, there are web tools that make it easy to keep track of inspirational images. Pinterest allows you to “pin” images from websites and create a virtual board accessible from your smart phone, tablet or computer. Olioboard is another resource that allows you to place photographs of furniture, textiles, lighting and accessories to create a visual mockup of a desired room. Regardless of format, a visual reference can help you stay on point with your décor project or help you understand what you like or don’t like.
In today’s booming condo market, innovative retailers have understood the need for multi-functional pieces to help small space dwellers lead more functional and stylish lives. Look for pieces that serve more than one purpose to give you greater versatility when space is at a premium. Look for ottomans that also provide storage, cabinetry with drop down leaves that can be used as a desk surface, or coffee tables that can extend into full height dining tables.
Moreover, don’t forget to think about storage. Your new home may have less closets or general areas to store items. Think about taking advantage of high ceilings with floor to ceiling bookcases or built in cabinetry. Custom millwork for entertainment units or office space can be a great way to utilize every inch. Invest in great closet organization systems to get the most out of every nook and cranny.
Finally, downsizing presents the opportunity to edit. Going from a four-bedroom detached house to a two-bedroom apartment will by necessity require you to eliminate items. I recommend starting with items of sentimental value. If a dining table or sideboard are family heirlooms and bring you great memories when you look at them, consider using these as the grounding elements in the room and purchasing smaller scale pieces to finish the space. Editing goes for accessories and art as well. Pick your favourites to act as the focal points in your new rooms.
Whether you’re looking for a new design direction or want to make your current pieces work in your new smaller space, the most important thing when downsizing is creating a space that feels like home. Fill it with your favourite pieces, memories of great people and experiences and quality items that make coming home a joy.
• Lisa Canning (lisacanning. ca) is a Toronto-based interior stylist with a penchant for chic, contemporary, personalized interiors. A graduate of Ryerson University’s School of Fashion, Lisa brought her flair for textiles and colour as she transitioned into designing homes on HGTV’s Marriage Under Construction. She launched her design practice shortly thereafter, specializing in customized, modern interiors for both commercial and residential spaces. Currently, Lisa runs the design team on HGTV’s For Rent and is a recurring design guest expert on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show.