Photography: Tracey Ayton | Story: A Vancouver condo becomes a modern minimal haven
Short on both space and funds? Make your home feel grand with the help of these designer hacks.
You’ll hardly ever hear anyone complain about having too much space, but at one time or another, we’ve all bemoaned a lack of space at home, feeling fenced in by clutter and frustrated by a lack of storage and organizing solutions. If moving to a sprawling estate isn’t in the budget (we can dream, right?), then these designer-approved strategies will help make your home feel more spacious.
1. Your area rug should be big — not small.
“Adding a large rug always helps to ground the space," says Jordy Fagan of Collective Studio. "A rug that is too small will immediately make the space feel smaller and give all of your furniture the illusion of floating, making the room look overcrowded. Colleen McGill, president and founder of McGill Design Group agrees: “I like to have area rugs just 8”-10” smaller than the room on all sides,” she says.
2. Make sure everything serves a purpose.
You don't have to go the minimal route, but you'll want to remove anything that doesn't isn't necessary. "No matter the space, the first thing I do is declutter,” says Andrea Haraldsen, lead designer at Harlow & Thistle. “This doesn’t mean clearing out everything, simply ensuring everything that takes up space has a purpose or meaning,” she says. “When things are personal and have been placed in a specific spot, the whole space feels lighter.”
3. Hang curtains from the ceiling.
You can create the illusion of height simply by hanging your curtains higher. “Hang your window curtains from the ceiling, no matter where your window lives on the wall,” says Andrea. “The length of the curtain takes the eye up and elongates the height of the room.”
4. Paint walls white or off-white.
Create the illusion of more space with white or almost-white walls, says interior decorator Vanessa Francis. “I find that painting the space off-white or white makes it feel more spacious, especially when the walls, ceiling and trim are all the same white,” she says.
5. Light your rooms well.
“Well-lit rooms provide the feeling of space,” says Nyla Free, principal designer at Nyla Free Designs. “Creating layers of light with a combination of recessed pot lights, ceiling fixtures as well as floor and table lamps throughout the home will cater to both function and aesthetics,” she says. “Bright spaces offer a spacious feel, and while natural light is optimal, ample lighting is highly beneficial to the feeling of a space as well as the overall use and purpose. You can never have enough light!”
6. Make door heights taller.
“When renovating, adding height always makes a room feel more spacious,” says Colleen McGill, president and founder of McGill Design Group. “One of my great tricks is to make door heights taller,” she says. “In a more traditional home, I always raise the door heights to 12” below the ceiling. A modern home can have even taller door heights because generally, there is no crown moulding and smaller casings. The effect is incredible.”
7. Mix bulky items with lighter pieces.
“Within one room, you should avoid having too much furniture with a similar visual weight,” says Katie Hodges, principal designer at Katie Hodges Design. “For example, if you have a large skirted sofa, avoid pairing it with bulkier chairs with no legs,” she says. “Instead, opt for armchairs that have a higher leg and a more streamlined silhouette, to contrast and create balance with the heavier sofa.”
8. Go with oversized artwork and mirrors.
“Everyone wants more space, or at least the illusion of it,” says Holly Baker, designer and host of Vacation Rental Potential on A&E. “You can use art and mirrors to create the illusion of more space,” she says. “The key is to go big with your art, even if your furniture is smaller. One big piece of art instead of multiple smaller pieces makes it less visually cluttered.”