10 of the Best "Small Cool" Ideas and Inspirations to Steal

10 of the Best "Small Cool" Ideas and Inspirations to Steal

Gregory Han
Apr 28, 2011

If you haven't noticed, it's Small Cool month over at Apartment Therapy, our annual open call out to readers to share their inspiring small space homes, 1,000 square feet and under. And as anyone who has lived in a small space already knows, small spaces are a great motivator for making due with what you've got and maximizing every square inch. Nowhere is this more true than when integrating home technology into home offices and living rooms where every square inch counts. We've handpicked 10 (actually 12, since we doubled up a couple of the examples) Small Cool entries we think you can learn a thing or two from. We know we did!

From Kim & Scott's Yellow Brick Home: give your electronics discrete spaces to occupy. By creating separate spaces within their shelving unit for their HDTV set, components, record collection and speakers, Kim and Scott's home entertainment area gives a strong impression that there's a place for everything, rather than the typical haphazardly organized media center. Hide away your components behind closed doors, using an RF remote control like the Logitech Harmony 900; if you've got an IR remote, you follow Kim and Scott's example and create a mesh/lattice opening to permit the control signal to reach your components (the openings will also help heat escape from your electronics) or use an IR repeater.

From Liz's Light Off Lake Michigan: play hide and seek with your cables and wires. Another Chicago entry, Liz's Teeny-Tiny 360 degree rental showcases a sophisticated style throughout (great colour palette). One thing we immediately noticed was how her modest sized HDTV didn't come with the usual mess of wires and cables because she creatively hid them behind a framed photograph underneath. Most of us can't drill into the walls to snake cables and cords invisibly for an ideal wall mounted setup, but we can all use decorative items like framed pieces, baskets, and other miscellaneous items to keep cord clutter out of the public eye.

From Jennie's Colorful & Care-free: and Lacey's Ever Evolving Studio: it's okay to think beyond a typical media center for your home theater setup. A lot of time, small space dwellers are masters of C&C. No, not the music factory, but "compromise" and "combining". Compromise purchasing a dedicated media console and combine utility by using a dresser or other storage piece with double duty features. The additional benefit is choosing these type of pieces, especially vintage dressers, consoles and credenzas will look more pleasing from a decor perspective than most media centers out there. Use something like these Cable Drops in the back to keep cords off the floor.

From Flora's "Gentleman's Residence": work the corners for home offices. The benefits of situating yourself in a corner are that you've got two walls instead of one to take advantage of for wall shelving, corners tend to have a little less glare, and also make it easier to hide cables and cords from view.

From Michael's Mini-Loft in Munich: look at that cute iPad on it's own stand, which is also placed on its own stool. Precious. But the real idea to steal for small space dwellers here is the concept of taking advantage of media streaming tools, like Sonos or Apple's Airplay, which allows you to wirelessly stream audio and video to your home theater or audio system. Or if you're on a budget, make your tablet, laptop or all-in-one computer your media center and forgo trying to shoehorn a big, bulky television into your space. Then keep your iOS or Android device bedside on its own charging stand and control your audio and video from the comforts of your own bed.

From CK's Home on Her Own: Create a matchy-matchy setup. Check our CK's Astoria home entertainment area. With just 475 square feet, the living room could have easily exhibited a cluttered feel. Instead, with the thoughtful choice of all-white, from the small television, to the printer, the shelving and storage boxes underneath, the tech blends away into the background. Conversely, the mix-and-match selection of framed photos helps offset the presence of the TV's black screen when off; it lives within the space as one additional framed image.

From Tana's Lots of Light: and Pinsuda's Studio Space: Build up, down and all around. Both these examples take advantage of the spaces above and below their home entertainment center with affordable IKEA shelving pieces.

From Kiley's "The Bramble": Mix new and old. A strong ongoing decor trend is integrated weathered, aged, and historic furnishings and decorative elements throughout the home. So whether it's an old desk, an antique bulb desk lamp or simply some miscellaneous vintage accessories, you can help dampen the presence of computers, tech accessories and electronic components by juxtaposing them alongside their aged equivalents (think vintage typewriter next to your laptop).

From Kathryn's Space Savers: Think symmetrical and balance. This Tuscon entry is a balancing act of sorts. We like how Kathryn has bookended her makeshift entertainment center with two chairs on each side (using the contrasting concept noted in tip #8 above). Additionally, but placing her television on a surface in front of a shelving unit, she's able to hide away additional components and wires. Very sneaky!

From Claudia's Northern Exposure: Claudia has a great table for two meant for dining (and an amazing red TV stand in the corner), but this face to face setup is not only great for supper time, but also perfect to accommodate for dual work hour use. Two laptops with one shared extension cords ontop (or better yet, underneath). If you don't like to feel like you're playing Battleship, you can always work side-by-side and pretend you're driving off together.

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