By Annie Elliott, Associate ASID
“We just need more space!” How many times have you heard that? Or said it?
What exactly do we mean when we say we need more space? We might need more storage. Or we want to accommodate another function: a workspace, a bedroom for a child, a place to watch TV.
Fair enough: sometimes more space is required — space that only a renovation will provide. But in urban areas, building onto our homes may not be an option. In suburban or rural areas, we may not want to sacrifice our green space to expansion. Either way, adding more physical space to a home is messy, time-consuming and expensive.
The good news is that more often than not, we aren’t making the most of the space we already have. As designers, we know that space matters. Part of our job as designers is to use space wisely and well. Here’s how.
We can be more clever about built-ins. We all know how to design built-in shelving for either side of a fireplace. But don’t forget about sill-high cabinets across a wall of windows, which provides storage below and a surface above. Similarly, building a radiator cover with shelving on either side provides places for books and objects while keeping the walls clear for artwork. We can maximize the space underneath the stairs with custom-built drawers or shelving.
We can use every room. If you’re among the dwindling number of people who still have a room or two they don’t use — a formal living room or a dining room — re-think those spaces. An unused dining room can become a family room, with a TV and comfortable seating. Put bookcases and a long, attractive trestle table in your living room and you’ve created a library-like homework space. You may be able to put a desk in there for yourself as well.
Our children can (gasp!) share a bedroom. Especially when they’re little, kids like to share rooms. Bunk beds (there are so many cool options on the market) keep floor space clear, and hanging pockets on the wall for flashlights and books gives each child their own little nook. Think of all the things you could do with a freed-up room: set up an office, establish a playroom where toys live (it’s ok to declare public rooms toy-free) or designate it as a teenager workspace in which the computer is visible to the adults in the house.
#SpaceMatters. Use it wisely, and you just might find that you have enough.
Annie Elliott, Associate ASID, is principal of bossy color | Annie Elliott Interior Design in Washington, D.C. She is a regular blogger and can be found on Twitter @bossycolor. Hear more from Annie in these ASID videos.
Photo courtesy bossy color.