Space-Saving Tips & Tricks for Small Condos

Design Ideas to Maximize Space in a Condo

Small-space living can create furnishing and design challenges for even the most well-informed and creative homeowners. While condo owners are often aware of the perceived limitations of condo living, not all condos are short on actual square footage. 

It's entirely possible to rise above any sizing limitations when living in a condo. Keep reading for tips on designing a condo to make it feel larger.

Brush on a Fresh Coat of Paint

A fresh perspective often begins with a fresh coat of paint. Condo spaces generally benefit from a unifying color scheme, but that doesn't mean you can't use a contrasting color as an accent or use complementary colors in the same color family.

Those who own instead of rent their condo have the ability to paint their walls freely. However, because interior walls are within the private unit, condo owners will be responsible for any maintenance and upkeep if they choose to repaint the walls again.

Used in the right way, paint can shape a room. Using the same color on walls and ceilings will enlarge the space. Pick warm or cool hues depending on the mood you want to create, but remember that lighter tones add to the illusion of spaciousness.

If you select a creamy pale yellow for the walls in the main living area, with blue and white accents, carry the same wall color into the master bedroom and add a blue and white print or navy blue fabric for bedcoverings and draperies. White carpeting or area rugs will keep the space bright, airy, and comfortable. Accents of brighter yellow and navy blue are stunning.

The master bathroom could be a vision in pale yellow and white, with towels in varied shades of blue. A separate powder room might benefit from a soothing shade of pale blue paint to set off its white fixtures, with bright yellow towels as a smart choice for the space.

Coordinate the overall scheme with the architectural style, flooring, and furnishings. Choose textures and accessories carefully, and remember that less is more. The classic designer trick of carrying the same accent colors throughout the entire space is a valuable lesson to learn.

Capitalize on Vertical Space

Wall Shelves Are an Easy Way to Use Vertical Space

Tall, narrow furniture—think bookshelves, etageres, and cabinets with doors—are a boon if floor space and storage are limited. Use them to corral belongings in an orderly way. Use freestanding pieces, or create the illusion of a single piece of furniture by adding wall-hung shelves or cabinetry over a desk or long buffet.

In other condo areas, use open wall space as a gallery, create an indoor garden with wall-hung clay pots filled with leafy plants, hang pegboards on a kitchen wall to keep utensils organized, or devise wall storage in a bedroom closet for hats, belts or jewelry.

Hang a large mirror on an interior wall to reflect an outdoor view or bounce light around the room to visually enlarge the space. Consider encircling a room with a high, narrow shelf to display treasured collectibles or installing wall-hung sconces to brighten a room with no need for lamp tables that take up floor space.

Study architectural journals, visit online design sites for ideas, and sketch out thoughts before committing to an action plan.

Minimize Visual Clutter

Remember that large pieces, even in small spaces, can be dramatic and practical, while a group of smaller items adds to a feeling of overcrowding. An oversized chair and ottoman in a corner can be a comfortable retreat or a cozy spot for conversation with a friend. Add a tray table and a floor lamp for versatility, or perhaps a chairside basket for magazines and a warm throw.

Select multi-purpose furniture, if possible, that will address specific needs. A chest or compact trunk can serve as a game table and coffee table, with the bonus of storage. Floor pillows or small stools will provide usable seating. An ottoman or bench topped by a large tray is a stylish option.

Consider the following small-space solutions:

  • Use nesting tables that can be pulled apart to provide extra surfaces.
  • Drop-leaf tables are practical small-space options to handle a crowd.
  • Under-bed storage is the answer for seldom-used clothing or sports gear.
  • Baskets make sense to organize office supplies and files in a library or home office.
  • Think about a Murphy bed for occasional guest use in a den or study.
  • A small kitchen island that serves as a cutting board or prep center boosts kitchen efficiency.

Establish Zones & Create Sight Lines

If you live in a one-bedroom or a studio condo, zones and sight lines can make a huge difference. 

It's easy for one part of your condo to become your space for doing everything from eating to work to household chores like folding laundry. Creating zones can help you to differentiate between areas and establish boundaries, which can make your condo feel larger. Instead of just having one large space where you do everything, you can have a small space where you eat, another where you work, and so on.

Utilizing sight lines can also help make your space feel larger because having closed-off spaces can make rooms feel small and cramped. Sight lines help create an uninterrupted atmosphere, as you can see into other parts of the condo and use visual cues to differentiate between spaces. This also helps create more of a flow in your living space and makes it feel less confined.

Pick Quality Over Quantity

Using just a few large pieces that have an impact is more practical in small spaces than a larger number of small pieces. Scale is important, but it's not the only factor determining what will work in the space. Choose to be comfortable, whether you prefer being alone or routinely have a crowd for dinner and a movie. Just as a single large piece of art or an oversize mirror can become a dramatic focal point, many leggy chairs and small tables will just become a visual distraction.

Ensure adequate light, whether it's natural daylight or evening mood lighting. If possible, use a combination of recessed or ceiling lighting for appropriate overall illumination, supplemented by task lighting where it's needed. Then, take stock of the mood of the room. Install wall sconces, hanging pendants, or a chandelier if appropriate, or use a lighted piece of art or an uplight to cast an intriguing glow across the ceiling. Adequate lighting has a significant impact on condo interior design.

Personalize Your Condo Space

Furnishing a condo is all about balance, function, and appropriate style. Don't feel you have to adopt a minimalist theme in a contemporary space. In the same way, traditional architecture doesn't necessarily require furniture and accessories of the same era or genre. Satisfy personal design sense with color, and allow the furniture and accessories to reflect individuality and personality, whether the style is Boho, eclectic, French provincial, Euro-industrial, South of the Border, Scandinavian, or any other aesthetic.

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