Make a cramped living room feel more spacious by lightening the walls (pictured, Benjamin Moore Lemon Drops). The color's brightness is accentuated by darkening the adjacent entryway (Benjamin Moore Bronze Tone).
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Let the Light In
When curtain rods extend beyond the window frames, it allows in more light and draws the eye outward. “Windows are the eyes of the room,” says Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, the author of Apartment Therapy (Bantam, $15, amazon.com. “When you cover them up, you make your place smaller.”
Center the Room
“People in small spaces often try to get the room they want by moving stuff to the edges,” says Gillingham-Ryan. “But it kills warmth.” To enliven the space, he suggested a sociable triangle consisting of a Chris Madden classic sofa, a Room & Board Flynn club chair, and a slipper chair moved from the bedroom. The neutral-colored Ikea Inez rug helps unify the room. Pier 1 Imports Lijang hexagonal trunks are combined to form a coffee table (unfortunately, these items are no longer available).
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Get Items Off the Floor
CDs are stored in the Container Store’s Sky Blue library CD boxes (unfortunately, this item is no longer available). The Container Store’s Pandan box stores photos ($40, containerstore.com).
A walnut-framed mirror hangs above the dresser to reflect light from the window, making the 9-by-10-foot room feel more spacious. “Mirrors are a tried-and-true way to open up space,” says Susan Zises Green, a New York designer. “They almost always help a small room.” Also, any room with a low ceiling seems loftier if you hang pictures up high. “The most important thing is to draw the eye up and not down,” says Matthew Dennison, coauthor of At Home With Color.
One reliable way to get the most out of your square footage is to consolidate belongings by selecting furniture that contains storage space. Here, a pair of bookseller tables act as shelving for books and containers.
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Put Function First
Create space based on your personal habits. If you never eat in the kitchen, for example, remove the table to make way for more clutter-busting, useful items, like a Pier 1 Imports under-cabinet glass rack ($12, pier1.com), and an Ikea Vurm wine rack ($10, ikea.com).
Create a Triangle of Efficiency
Make sure you can move unencumbered among the three key work areas: sink, stove, and refrigerator. An efficient work area is made by installing an Ikea Värde base cabinet ($399, ikea.com) with drawers and a countertop that is 30 inches deep, 10 inches deeper than average.