It’s no surprise that many Vancouverites live in small spaces—with the cost of living and the high demand for real-estate we’re thankful for 500sq ft. to call our own! Making the most of the small space is essential to keeping your sanity… especially when it’s been the longest winter on record and you’ve been pacing around the kitchen island to make-up for missed gym days! A big part making the most out of your space has to do with avoiding these five pitfalls:
Too Much Clutter
You’ll immediately feel like the walls are closing in if you have a slew of junk on every available surface. It starts to feel like an episode of ‘hoarders’. Baskets and bins are your friends! Organize and tuck away what you’re not immediately using. I have a rule that if I’m not planning on using something that exact day, it gets put away.
An Onslaught of Dark Colours
I love rich, dark colours but everything needs to be in moderation. A room that’s primarily dark looks smaller. In general, my aesthetic is to keep the the majority of items bright and neutral (read: whites, pastels, taupe and greys) and adding pops of dark bold colours in an accent wall, furniture piece or artwork.
Too much or too little Comfort
I love a home that looks primped and ready for guests at a moments notice but it needs to be comfortable. This is the space you hang out in the most. No matter how good something looks, if it’s not cozy, you won’t have people using the space for long. And really, isn’t that the point?
Alternatively, I think we can also go too far the other way where a place is so full of ‘comfort’ that we overlook design. Before you know it that room is exactly like that old broken leather couch: past it’s prime.
Strike a balance by identifying 3-5 things that give you comfort in a home— nap worthy throw blankets, soft pillows, a cozy couch to curl up on, a scented candle or my personal favourite, potted plants and fresh cut flowers. Make these things a priority in your home. Try to stay within 2 items more or less of this equation to ensure you’re still cozy cute and not ‘cozy’ old sweatpants with holes!
The Electronics Debacle
We love our electronics but even I have to admit more often than not, they’re unsightly. Two pitfalls you’ll want to watch out for when it comes to fitting electronics into your design 1.) the appropriate size and 2.) the pesky wires that come with it.
Make sure your electronic isn’t obscenely large for a small room and making sure it’s not a small blip on a massive blank wall! The rule of thumb I recommend is if you notice it, there’s something wrong it. If your eye immediately closes in on your electronic, it’s either too large and obnoxious or oddly small and out of place. I don’t say this often but be harsh with yourself!
As for the wiring, many new condos now have an outlet mid wall height for people to mount their TV—it’s an excellent solution to point #2—not having too many things on any given surface. If you’re in an older building, tuck your wires away by either hiding them behind a small piece of same wall coloured plastic or hang it just slightly above a piece of furniture such as a console or media table.
One Season Patios
Let me preface this by saying my patio brings me no greater joy and dismay all in one space! Absolutely nothing beats sitting on your patio on a sunny day with a glass of wine and good conversation. That first day on your patio after a long winter truly feels like a gift. But for every other day of the year—especially in Vancouver, this space quickly becomes a real-life representation of your current mood: everything is damp and waterlogged, your plants have long died and you’re pretty sure you’re going to slip on that very thin, very real green slime growing on the floor. Before you know it your cute décor is ruined.
When it comes to decorating your patio, keep in mind our winter season. This means, the pretty outdoor rugs and cushions need a home when the rain hits, that potted plant better be ‘mostly shade’ and you can forget paper lanterns. Always keep weather in mind and circle back to #2—keep this space clutter free to maximize your enjoyment!
With a few sunny days under our belt and a long weekend coming up, take the opportunity to do a ‘design checkup’ and make sure you haven’t fallen into a design pitfall! Good design lets you optimize whatever space you get to proudly call your own!
About the Author
Natalie Langston is an accomplished Canadian Television Personality, Lifestyle Expert on JRFM and Fitness & Health Reporter for Canada Wide Media on BC Living. She merges her journalistic background and media expertise with her passion for Fitness On The Run and holistic health to inspire positive change within our fast-paced world. An Emcee with a love of giving back to her community, she is a Volunteer and Spokesperson for Dress for Success Vancouver, member of Ladies Who Lunch Global Network for female entrepreneurs and Style Ambassador for the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards.