Illusion – The Small Home Owner’s Best Friend

Posted by Alan Zunec on Monday, July 14th, 2014 at 5:15pm.

There’s been a recent trend in the housing market in some parts of Canada, particularly the larger cities. Condos and townhomes are getting a second look. The younger crowd is interested because of the proximity to work, shops and entertainment venues. Empty nesters and seniors are looking because they just don’t want to keep up the maintenance on the now oversized family home. But some are asking, how small is too small?

The answer, well, is a matter of personal preference. Moving into a condo with less space can seem daunting at first, but there are creative ways to get the most out of that space. At the same time you’ll be creating a pleasing environment that you’ll enjoy spending time in.

Can You Say White?

Take two identically sized small rooms and paint one a dark blue and the other a soft white. Now ask someone to go in both rooms and tell you one, which room they prefer and two, which one has more space. Chances are they’ll pick the white room. The light color gives the illusion that the room is bigger, making it more inviting. Using white or pastel colors is one way to make you condo feel larger. Keep the lines clean with no contrasting colors on ceiling or trim. Contrasting colors trick the brain, creating divisions in the room which really don’t exist.

Let’s look at your kitchen. Keeping everything, including the countertops and backsplash, in shades of ivory will give you the most space, at least that’s the illusion. If all white is too much, try a muted marble of grey and white on the countertops or decorative cabinet and drawer handles. Don’t paint the ceiling darker than the walls, as far as the brain is concerned, this makes the ceilings seem lower.

Less is Best

Now let’s consider furnishing your smallish home. Covering every bit of floor space with furniture and/or other items only makes the space seem smaller. In the living room, for example, make use of coffee and end tables that have storage compartments. Find furniture that fits the room. It makes no sense to buy a huge “L” shaped sofa if it takes up the entire room, or nearly so. Your brain automatically thinks, gee that’s tiny. If you have an heirloom that you simply can’t live without, like an old rocker or easy chair, tailor your furnishings around your bit of history. Try and stick to neutral, light colors to give an added illusion of space. Use pillows, throws or other accents for color contrast.

Avoid overdoing the artwork on walls for the same reason. Pictures crammed together make a room feel cramped.  Consider this, art galleries allow for a certain amount of “white space” between pieces to give each creation the attention it deserves. A Picasso sitting too close to a Matisse is just too much excitement for the brain to handle. The clash of styles creates chaos. You may not have a piece by either of these artists but the same principle applies when placing a velvet bullfighter next to a needlepoint wall hanging. Instead of your guests feeling spaciously welcomed, they just might be wondering “what were you thinking?”

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