How Can I Live in a Small Home?

Photos from House Beautiful

Many of us think of a small space as a studio apartment. And now, however, small can be an entire home. When I saw the photos of this small space it gave new meaning to the phrase “space planning.” And being a bit of a pack-rat myself I realized how little I really need. Although you may not want to par down to this extent, have a look at the creativity of this warm, wonderful home and its efficient planning efforts. Enjoy and ask yourself… ”how much do I need.”


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How do I keep my Dining Room looking fresh and inviting?

There are many options for freshening a room’s design such as painting or relocating furniture to create a new space plan. The dining area, however, has less flexibility in being able to move furnishings around as the table and chairs are the focal point and occupy the largest amount of space.

This photograph from Traditional Home is a neutral white/soft gray space which lends itself to any and many colors. The table skirt and slipcovers for the chairs are also in coordinating neutrals. The colors in the chandelier and silver cabinet are of the same tones with the color in the room coming from gold colored glasses on the table, the flowers on the side board/table and the greenery in the window area.  

Perhaps the entire home is done in neutral tones or maybe just the dining space but since we don’t know let’s treat the dining space on its own. Fashion and interior design trends run in cycles reflecting our world and country at that time. As we look back at design choices we may have made in our home, they also tell a story about us. The Eighties gave us bold prints…chintz fabrics… lots of color and soft flowing styles. It also showcased slipcovers on any piece of furniture. Casual comfort and fabric table cloths again show a feeling of softness.  This a great example of “upcycling” (link) …not only recycling materials, but also styles of design…. everything old is new again!!

When we think of adding renewed interest to a room, we can change the wall/ceiling color, flooring, lighting, accessories, and/or furniture pieces. Let’s consider updating this room with minimal labor/work. Showing seasonal changes with a wardrobe of slipcovers for the chairs and the fabric table covering is a great way to begin. These items, or either one, can be changed for a new season…. summer, winter, etc. with patterns and color tones reflecting the season.  And of course, special holidays, religious holidays, birthdays, family special days…let your imagination run wild. You can store these items to change out having a new look whenever you like. Another quick and easy way to add color and style change is a table runner down the length or the width of the table. If you choose the width, be sure to make it quite wide for a true design statement.   A “wardrobe” of table runners can quickly change the mood and style of the room. Rather than rattan/textured placemats, use a soft colored fabric enhancing all the elements in the room. Designers love using “charger” plates which are made of a protective material (usually glass or a weighty substance so cold/heat is not conducted onto the table itself) on which the dinnerware sits. Chargers are larger in diameter than a dinner plate so will add texture and dimension.  And don’t forget beautiful full-sized fabric dinner napkins which complete each table setting.

Remember to consider your personal mood and feelings…. some months you may feel more vibrant and some more somber.  Your home and environment can reflect who you and your family are, and that dynamic is never consistently the same. Go ahead, be creative, let your inner designer come forward.

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How do I make my long/narrow water closet space fun and interesting???

Many Victorian homes had a narrow toilet/water closet space for visitors to use.   For those facing a remodel of this space the question was….how to make it seem less like a tunnel???

Photo from: architecturaldigest.com

Many city/remodel codes require varied measurements for space between toilet fixture, so relocation of these items is very difficult.  The answer then lies in making what you have renewed and exciting.

In the Victorian/Edwardian era of design architects designed rooms with at least one window of ventilation because these homes were not outfitted with central air nor electricity.  Cross flow ventilation was the only system creating breeze and air flow in the home.

Our special photograph demonstrating one creative idea for a “tunnel water closet”.  It might be called…” Have Fun” … showing framed friends/family photographs on the walls.   But look further and you will see under the photographs a wallcovering. Another design idea is a bead board paneling the height of the wall under the window around the entire space creating a separated area for photos/artwork.   

Most of us think a sink must protrude into the space but look….an elongated sink made for two is unobtrusive.  And next to the sink is a heated towel holder. Many of the old homes have moisture and towels don’t dry properly…thus heated towel holders work well.

Let’s try some creative ideas….

  • This space would most likely (in the old world) be used not only for comfort but also to make certain grooming was up to date. And so, a larger mirror perhaps with side sconces (electrical in our day, candle in Victorian times) to make certain grooming was perfect.
  • Although we can’t see it a ceiling fixture was probably the only source of lighting and it can be a real stunner….not only for lighting but for artistic style.
  • Plants in the window well are a welcomed addition and perhaps adding more to this area and maybe adding glass shelves over the water closet for a more environmental feel. Don’t forget plants can be a wonderful addition to the floor by the w/c (Water Closet) and the window well as well as glass shelves above the w/c
  • Color !!!! why not choose wild wall covering for the upper part of the room and a corresponding color for the bottom wainscoting…. go ahead, be wild.
  • Photos deserve a special area…. how about to the right/left of each sconce.  Each group is tightly formed creating a feeling of a subject.
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