Design Solutions for 11 Tricky Spaces
From long and narrow “railroad” flats to teensy rooms and studios that appear to be all doors and windows, every home has its own design challenges. If you’ve hit a roadblock (where in the world can I put that sofa?) Or merely believe there should be a better method of organizing your space, read on — we’re covering alternatives for 11 of the most typical space-planning dilemmas.
A+B KASHA Designs
Getting started. As with the start of any design project, it helps to look at your space with fresh eyes. Go out, grab a cup of coffee and come back for another look when you feel refreshed. Even better, bring a design-savvy friend together and ask what he or she’d do with the distance. Sometimes just hearing others’ thoughts can help get your own creative juices flowing and lead to your best thoughts.
When the room is really giving you trouble, I recommend taking every scrap out of furniture and looking at it entirely bare. When layers of stuff are clogging up your perspective, it can be tough to imagine setting up the room in any other way.
Move the stuff, and you may have the ability to move the psychological roadblocks too.
Tricky distance 1: Long, narrow hall
The solution: Think art gallery. Fresh white walls are the classic choice, though textured grasscloth or a coat of rich colour would work equally well. Go sleek and easy with black and white pieces, or make a quirky gallery with diverse, colorful artwork hung in a line, using a few frames left intentionally empty. Complete the space with appropriate lighting. Try overhead track lighting or small wall-mounted lights to light up the art.
Moment design + productions, llc
Tricky space 2: Small home, long hall
The solution: instead of let precious space go unused, put your hallway to operate by installing floating cabinets and shelves. Floating the storage pieces off the ground retains the area from feeling too cluttered or heavy. Just make sure you measure carefully, choosing cabinets that are narrow enough to permit ample room to walk by. Create a point of keeping the floors clean and surfaces carefully curated — jumble will get noticeable quickly in a tight space such as this.
Tricky distance 3: Small distance, no entryway
The answer: Don’t bother trying to squeeze a teensy table behind the door. It will just bug you, and it will not be large enough to hold considerably. Instead, look for the first open open wall and set a larger desk or storage bit there, letting it do double duty as an entertainment centre or workspace.
When there’s literally nowhere to put a table, consider using a few small, sleek wall-mounted pieces instead. A few hooks for keys, coats and bags along with a floating shelf or sorter for email are all you really need to handle the essentials.
Fivecat Studio | Architecture
Tricky distance 4: Eat-in kitchen using too many doors and openings
The solution: In places where a square or rectangular table would stick out like a sore thumb, go around instead. Curved contours generally fit into awkward areas, softening the hard edges in a room. Try to pull your table near a wall socket, even if it’s just as small part of wall at the room revealed here; it looks more natural than setting the table dead-center.
Tim Cuppett Architects
Tricky distance 5: living room with multiple doors and windows
The solution: If your living room has a component (door, window, fireplace, radiator) that prevents you from placing furniture near the walls, consider pulling the arrangement toward the middle of the room instead. Use the symmetry of a matching pair of couches to counteract the chaos of these entries and exits, and include a comfy area rug to anchor the conversation area.
Get guidelines on using area rugs
Studio D – Danielle Wallinger
Tricky distance 6: living room with hardly any available wall space
The solution: If your living room is driving you nuts, then have a look at your dining room instead. Can you create a swap? Multiple windows and doors do not really matter at a dining room, as furniture needs are minimal (table, chairs, perhaps a sideboard). And what’s more romantic than dinners by the fire?
Nichole Loiacono Design
Tricky distance 7: Tiny studio apartment
The answer: Small-scale furniture and careful preparation are crucial in a tiny space that has to serve several purposes. Round tables and furniture using curvy contours create browsing tight quarters easier, whilst glass or Lucite tables create more visual distance.
Ample storage is likely to make your life much easier, so look for smart designs that sneak in extra room. You can use storage ottomans rather than a coffee table or a classic dresser rather than an entertainment centre, or even conceal an entire wall of shelving behind attractive curtains on ceiling-mounted sticks.
Tricky distance 8: Slanted ceiling the under stairs
The solution: if you’re able to afford to make the investment, custom built-in closets, shelving or desk space is a wonderful way to make use of every last square inch. Otherwise, low-profile furniture like a small daybed (with no headboard or footboard) or chaise may turn into an awkward nook into a cozy hideaway.
For People design
Tricky space 9: Small living room
The answer: It’s a bit counterintuitive, but also many itty-bitty pieces may make a room feel cluttered and cramped. Strike a balance by choosing pieces that appear large but have sleek lines (no wrapped arms!) . Substituting an upholstered ottoman to the normal coffee table is an easy way to sneak in extra seating, and a pair of petite armchairs can fit in the space of a single overstuffed edition. Finally, make sure to place lighting all of the way into the back corners of a room — nothing shrinks a room faster than lighting.
Tricky space 10: Long, narrow room
The solution: When it comes to decorating a long, narrow space, you will want to construct in a few breaks in the sight point, which visually divide the distance and supply areas for different uses. Rather than push the sofa against the wall, then consider having a smaller-scale loveseat placed perpendicular to the wall as one of your room breaks. You are also able to use a very low cupboard or table behind the sofa to specify the line between two main zones; simply make confident that the cabinet is level with, or a few inches shorter than, your sofa.
Tricky space 11: High ceilings, large open space
The solution: Accent pieces with height (such as the arc lamp featured here) will visually fill the vertical distance. Supersize rooms can handle larger-scale furniture, so don’t be afraid to go large. A huge dining table made from a natural timber slab with an eye-catching pendant light hung over it might make a stunning focal point for your room. Create a comfy seating area in a different spot using two facing couches pulled perpendicular to a wall, and complete the arrangement using a big rug (or two rugs layered together) to include softness.
What is the most difficult space you’ve ever lived, and how did you deal? Leave a comment and fill us in!
Browse solutions to common design problems