Ashley T. organizes all the talent coming in and out of Hallmark’s Union Hill Studios…and that’s not all she puts in awesome order. She’s on the blog today to give us a tour of her home and show us how to structure a small space with big style.
When my husband and I moved from our spacious loft in downtown Kansas City to a smaller home, we downsized quite a bit. Well, a lot bit. It felt good to have a smaller footprint, but we challenged ourselves to find space for everything. Luckily organizing is my jam, so I armed myself with my label maker and dove in!
In a small space, mirrors are your best friends because they reflect light and open up a room. I like to place a large mirror opposite a beautiful light fixture. Other best friends? Large furniture and décor items. It may seem counterintuitive, but using large pieces in a small home can make it feel bigger. We have a 6×10-foot painting above our sofa. It helps extend the height of a room, and because it’s in neutral colors, it doesn’t overwhelm. (The Star Wars painting is called “Ice Ice, Baby” by artist Jamie Boling.) I would also recommend acrylic furniture pieces. It doesn’t take up visual space and keeps a home from feeling too cluttered. We love the low profile of our counter stools in the kitchen.
Sometimes functionality trumps beauty in a small house. For example, my husband has two vintage chairs that he bought before we got married. They are royal blue, not my favorite color for home decor. But they are super comfortable, and they swivel so we can look out our front window. They can’t be reupholstered, but I decided to keep them rather than buy more stuff. I picked an accent color to play off the blue: fuchsia. We now have fuchsia in our rug, pillows and gallery wall. If you can’t beat ’em, coordinate stuff to go with ’em!
There are two words every small-space dweller should know: decorative containers. If you lack closet space, a basement or a catch-all room, you should embrace the idea of storing your things out in the open. I know that sounds scary, but open storage doesn’t have to scream, “I’m a hoarder!” There are all kinds of cool boxes, totes and baskets that can hide your clutter while giving it a unified look. And when in doubt, don’t be afraid to pile! Display books in artful stacks amidst other curiosities and decorative objects. Color coordinate them for an added punch.
We’ve also learned to keep window treatments light and airy – heavy drapery can overwhelm in a small home. Sheers let in much-needed natural light.
You can also go vertical with photos. We don’t have room to display all of our family and vacation pictures on surfaces, but they look great in cohesive white frames on a bright pink wall! Have open shelves in the kitchen? Take advantage of the added opportunity to show off your favorite art!
You can also get creative with your storage by giving new purpose to an ordinary object. On my dresser, I used a vintage punch bowl to corral my bangles and a glove mold to hold some of my favorite jewelry. That antique china grandma gave you that you never use? Get that soup bowl out and put some pretties in it! I also love to use small planters to hold everything from makeup brushes in my bathroom to the TV remotes in the living room.
We all have things we love to look at. Don’t hesitate to put them on display so you can enjoy them! I love sparkly stuff and color, so I store my costume earrings in a glass box and my nail polish in an apothecary jar on my nightstand. Display sentimental items in a creative way rather than storing them in a drawer. For example, during the move I rediscovered some old letters from my grandpa. They are now under a glass cloche in our dining room (above). A sweet note from my husband hangs out with my jewelry in a pencil tray.
With a small house come small closets. I try to use every inch of mine, including the wall behind the closet door. I paid a friend to frame some pegboard and install it for me. I now have use of what was formerly an empty wall to keep my jewelry and accessories. I use plastic storage bins for my shoes, so I can see what I’ve got at a glance. That also keeps me from buying more shoes than I need…sort of. When organizing your small space, remember to look up! There is plenty of unused space above a door or window, and it can be easy to install a shelf there.
If you are fortunate enough to have outdoor space, use it as an extension of your home. We’ve added some comfy furniture, pillows and plants to ours, and it helps make our home feel bigger. Consider unifying your space by carrying a single color throughout. We chose white to keep things fresh and bright.
Photography by Jane Kortright.
Live in a small space? Show us your big style by tagging us on Instagram, @think.make.share.