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Embrace your (small) space

Tips to help you utilize every inch of your home

Bookcases to the ceiling provide lots of storage. Courtesy photo

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While many Americans believe that bigger is better, the size of your home may be based on many variables. Whether you move into a small space because of budget, environmental concerns, or lack of housing options, there is always a solution to make your home functional and beautiful. Interior designer Kimberly Karli offers tips and tricks of the trade to help you settle in and make the most of your square footage.

If you can't spread out, go up. Kimberly says, "Use the vertical space you have to your best advantage.  People always think about how small the space is, but when you think about storing up the walls, you gain space on the floor."

Line your walls with bookshelves or open storage solutions, and go straight to the ceiling. Store items you only need to access periodically, like old bank statements or seasonal clothing along the highest shelves. Hanging curtains as close to the ceiling as possible will also make your walls appear taller.

Kimberly also recommends de-cluttering. "Keep what is essential and get rid of the junk. Clutter can make your space feel even smaller if it seems unorganized or if there's just too much ‘stuff.' Visually your small space will look and feel smaller," says Kimberly.

Pantry items such as flour and sugar can become a beautiful display when grouped together in glass containers on open shelves. Turning the things that you need to use every day into decorative pieces reduces the need to buy unnecessary items that serve no function. Spend the time organizing, sorting and purging.

As a former military spouse, Kimberly knows the struggles involved with moving often and renting. "Renting is hard because a lot of times you are stuck with what the landlord gives you. Most of the time it's white walls and boring beige floors. But this is the best rental you can get -- it's a blank canvas," she pointed out.

"If you select neutral colors for your main pieces of furniture, and add colors through your textiles and art work, you can really express yourself, without having to lose your security deposit when you leave," she explained. "You can always add an area rug to ground your furniture pieces and add color without painting. Plus, you can invest more on your basic furniture pieces that you know you'll want to take with you when you move." Bonus -- white walls make your space appear larger.

Reflect on the furniture you really need, and invest in the pieces that can move with you. If you are a family of four and eat in most nights, consider purchasing a nice four- to six-person dining set.  Find furniture that can pull double duty as well, such as a daybed or sleeper sofa for the family room/guest room, even better if it has built in storage. Be sure to consider the scale within your space. You need ample space to move around, so an oversized piece of furniture can quickly cramp a small room. Buying smaller pieces, or modular sets, also allow more flexibility in future spaces when you move again.

While daunting at first, redefining your home with every move can be something to look forward to. Ultimately, your home is a reflection of you, so there is no wrong way to decorate. By combining the colors, textures and items you love with good organization and functional furniture pieces, you'll be calling your small space "Home" in no time. 

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