With backgrounds in construction and building, glamorous design duo Virginia Toledo and Jessica Geller of id 810 Design Group take a "hammers to heels" approach to decor, overseeing the process from concept to build to paint and furniture. But you don't have to knock down a wall to open up a room. Here, they share their favorite small space tips, illustrated with examples from their recent projects.
1. Always define your entry as a foyer, no matter how small that actual area is. Having a sense of arrival when you walk through the door gives you a mental break. This can be as simple as placing a small console or shelf with a table lamp near the door and a catchall for mail, keys, etc., or painting the entry wall a different color and hanging a piece of art to highlight the area.
2. Lighting not only gives a room ambiance and character, it can also create different zones to make the space feel larger. Dimmers are crucial and can be purchased at a local hardware store – lights should never be turned up all the way. Plug in wall sconces are great because they can define an area (say, as "dining" even though it's all one big open space) and you don't have to go through the expense of hard wiring them. Plug in chandeliers are great too.
3. One of our design mantras is "Fake it till you make it." We adore the library look but it's not always practical or affordable. This library bookshelf wall covering looks 3-dimensional and even though it's just a picture, it makes you feel like you really have a library of well-read books.
4. Wallpaper is one of our favorite design materials because of the interest it adds to walls that you just can't replicate in any other way, whether you use a pattern or a texture. But if you can't afford to wallpaper an entire room, frame the wallpaper in a sophisticated pattern. And it's a bonus if ir has a little shine to it – anything that reflects light in a small space is your best friend.
5. Create architectural interest by adding faux paneling. You can do this in two relatively inexpensive, easy ways: mount a simple trim to the walls to create the panels or use different tones of the same color paint to create the illusion of depth. To replicate the look for even less, simply paint the "panels" onto the wall, and use a contrasting color to define the panel line from the wall color.
6. In small spaces everything needs to do double duty. A great surface for multitasking is quartz composite, like Caesarstone. We use these on dining tables all the time because they are kid friendly and fool proof – you can use your table for extra counter space when cooking, to serve drinks and appetizers at parties, and for day-to-day use as a desk or table. If you love the look of marble and are able to make peace with the fact that it can stain and distress over time, you can go to a local stone yard and get a remnant to use as a tabletop.
7. Don't be afraid to use pieces unconventially! Multitasking furniture pieces are also great in small spaces and you don't have to use conventional pieces in conventional ways – use a small dresser in foyer or living room for clothes or linen storage and the top can be ready for entertaining in a flash.
8. If you like to throw dinner parties, consider a banquette. Entertaining for a sit down dinner in a small apartment can be a challenge, and the best way to seat several is to use a built in banquette or a firm upright loveseat or bench which can be pushed against the wall. This frees up crucial floor space and can seat more people than each person having a designated chair.
9. The cheapest way to make high impact is to paint your walls. There are definitely benefits of using white paint in small spaces, but very dark colors on walls play a trick on our eyes and make the walls recede, therefore making the room feel larger than it really is. It also helps make space feel more intimate and cozy.
10. Don't neglect finishes and accessories. These are the details that will make your home feel like you – for a glamorous look add a touch of black, shiny metals like gold + silver, a mirrored vanity and a pop of pink.
Images: id 810 Design Group