As a New Yorker, I’m fascinated by the ways people design smaller living spaces, so it makes sense that I’m a big fan of the interior design website Apartment Therapy, which offers daily ideas on how to maximize small living areas. So imagine my delight in reading Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces, by the website’s cofounder Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. I was immediately drawn to this gorgeous look book.
According to Gillingham-Ryan, size constraints can actually unlock design creativity and allow you to focus on what’s essential. In the book, Maxwell shares 40 small, cool spaces that will help change your approach to decorating by teaching you how to look at a space differently. Most of the “therapy” in the book involves minor tweaks that can be accomplished on a limited budget. Beautiful photography and an extensive resource guide of Gillingham-Ryan’s favorite websites and stores will help turn even the tiniest residence into a place you’d be happy to come home to.
The book is organized by living areas and offers hundreds of inventive solutions for creating more space, such as:
1. Shift the sense of scale through contrasting colors: A room painted in a light color will seem larger than that same room painted in a dark color, because light colors tend to recede while dark colors advance. Similarly, warm colors seem closer while cool colors seem farther away. A long narrow room will seem more in proportion if its far wall is dark and its side walls are light. A room with a low, white ceiling will seem higher than a dark ceiling.
2. Add airiness by using transparent collections: A popular style used in transforming a small space is using transparent furniture (like a glass or Lucite table) to add openness.
3. Utilize the area under a loft bed: In small spaces, nothing does double duty like a loft bed. Whether it’s to maximize storage space or make the best of a crazy floor plan, building your bed in the air can make room for a work/study space an area to house shoes and clothes or even a mini-bar.
4. Tuck an office into an unused bedroom corner: Having bills spread out on your bed can be frustrating in a small space. Eventually, you may need to find a spot in your living area for a proper desk. Use a screen, shutters, chic vintage doors or a curtain to keep your desk hidden from the rest of your living area.
Check out these five studio apartments on the Apartment Therapy site which illustrate some of these tips.