One of the things I’ve learnt through experience, about home décor is that – so long as we pick the things we love, we are well on our way to creating a cozy place. I used to admire my friends’ houses – beautifully decorated with matched furniture and furnishings and secretly thought that I’d rather have a mismatched bunch of things I picked out lovingly than force myself to conform to what is “correct”.
Even though my life began in Mumbai, the city where space is a super-premium, I lived in a large house.
Much later after the family property was sold and we moved to another city, money was tight and we had to settle in smaller homes. Yet we were always happy. So long as we each had our favorite piece of furniture, we were good.
We mixed and did not match. Finally there came a time when I moved away from home with my Mom and our finances were just enough to afford us one room. I must say that was perhaps the happiest little space ever! We had friends over all the time, family visiting – I don’t ever remember a day when only my Mom and I sat down to a meal! We had at least one neighbor with us! It was Liberty Hall!
You’d think they’d freak out over our tiny space, but no! It was such a cozy mismatched place that the moment we opened the door to someone, they’d stand there, look around and say, Wow!
Oh we were no design experts! We just knew instinctively what worked! When I say “worked” I mean that we, our family and friends love it. Here are some things I learned from my Mom:
- Small spaces need not mean small furniture. We had one huge divan along one wall and everyone made a beeline for it. We covered it with a colorful cheerful spread.
- Large mirrors can make a space look more expansive than it is! We had one precious family mirror that belonged to my Grandpa and what a difference it made to our little room!
- Curtains must always be well outside the window frame and hang far higher than the window to create that wonderful illusion of space. But take care to see they don’t pool on the floor – that looks awful. And is a pain to clean. We’ve always preferred light and easy to wash curtains rather than heavy drapes. In summer, it is out with the lace curtains!
- Never waste wall space – which meant think vertical. My Mom loved to hang up my sketches and handicraft. She would say – keep those eyes moving when someone comes home – and they’ll never have the feeling that our space is small! Well, I know why our visitors’ eyes kept moving. We had two tall book shelves with strategically placed knickknacks. We also had a couple of chests of drawers for our clothes that we used to divide the room into two areas – the kitchen and the living cum bed room. This is still one of my favorite pieces of furniture today. Right now, I am planning to transform an entire wall in one of our rooms into ceiling to floor bookshelves.
- Get multitasking furniture – Multitasking may not be good for us, but it is the best kind of furniture – the type that does double or triple duty! When we couldn’t afford one of those cots with storage, my Mom had this ingenious idea of buying four sturdy metal trunks which, when arranged together with two solid mattresses on top, made great compartmental storage while becoming a comfortable bed.
- We also had two wide side tables made by our local carpenter for practically a song. When we put cushions on them, they made extra seating and without the cushions, sturdy side tables. If we had extra guests, out came the folding chairs!
- I remember there was an iron ladder in the corner of the room on whose rungs we used to hang things.
- The trick with small spaces is to place heavy stuff against the walls and balance off the rest of the furniture. Keep the entrance area free so that when you enter, the furniture doesn’t greet you first! One of my friends would tease us saying that it is a good thing Stevie Wonder doesn’t live with us or he’d go crazy finding his bearings – we loved to keep changing the arrangement in the room!
- Use color. Or not. We always had light colored walls and preferred to add color in the form of accessories. Color can also be used to minimize the size of a feature – for example, we had these built in shelves jutting out at an odd point in the wall and we colored them the same shade as the walls to make them less conspicuous.
- Clear out the clutter. This is very important. There’s nothing that makes a small space look messier than surfaces filled with junk. Clean surfaces, putting things away or displaying only things that really matter to you is the way to go.
- Go easy on wall art. There are times when over-sized wall frames are fabulous but in small places, they can be intimidating and sometimes, claustrophobic. Go for visual balance with wall decor.
- It is best to keep rugs and other textiles minimal. Too much makes a place look busy and as I mentioned earlier, a challenge to clean. In short, edit anything that overcrowds the place.
Today, we live in a larger apartment but I find that the above tips work just as well.
I have a dressing table whose door has storage on the inside. I use the back of doors to organize stuff. I have tall industrial shelving in my store room that makes organizing a breeze.
I still dream of a staircase inside the house – with each step built like a pull-out drawer that stores stuff.
Ah, well. Silly idea really, when I am enthusiastically trying to minimize our things and aiming for a cleaner place. That doesn’t mean I can’t get better organized, right? I am hankering after this lovely sofa from Durian and imagine sinking into it with a book.
With Durian, the International furniture brand manufacturing 90% of its products in Indian since 2011, creating a better lifestyle in the space you have is #JustAClickAway.
From being the pioneers in the veneer business to becoming the leading infrastructure company and a lifestyle brand, they are now among the top furniture brands in the market. Visit their website to see a wide range of beautiful furniture that is comfortable and functional – and most important, affordable. They’re offering great deals and a 5 year warranty on all products, with free delivery and free assembly.
While good living is #JustAClickAway, Durian has outlets in 29 cities across India where one can walk in to their showrooms and experience their products before buying.Have an idea for small living spaces? I’d love to hear it in the comments!
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine, naturally!