Living Large in Small Spaces

Photography by James Ray Spahn
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a small kitchen area in a Colorado homeInterior designer Priscilla Banks offers her top five “space expanding” suggestions that allow Diane Dodd’s diminutive Crested Butte, Colorado, Victorian home to live like a much larger space.

1. Avoid creating “blockiness.” Glass-front cabinets look airier than solid wood ones. Legs on furniture--rather than skirts that go to the floor--create a feeling of spaciousness. A clear glass-enclosed shower opens up a small bathroom.

2. Don’t underestimate the value of built-ins. When space is tight, built-ins eliminate the need for extra furniture. Dodd’s front entry is all built-ins, used for storing sporting gear, mittens, coats and dog leashes. The built-in dinette eliminates the need for a table and chairs and offers extra storage under the seats.

3. Scale is everything. “It’s not enough to know you want a couch, two chairs and a coffee table in your living room,” says Banks. “You have to make sure those pieces fit the scale of the room.” Banks put every piece of furniture Dodd liked into her computer to see how it fit in its designated space. The designer also put the kibosh on anything with skirts or high arms since both are visual blockers.

4. Keep window coverings unobtrusive.
Every window in Dodd’s house is covered with inside-mount Roman shades. “By not hiding the window trim,” says Banks, “the windows look larger, and that contributes to a feeling of spaciousness.”

5. Use pocket doors when possible.
Pocket doors take up no space, but should only be used, says Banks, where it doesn’t matter if they’re generally left open. “They’re fine on a master bathroom, where only the owner uses the facility,” she says.

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