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Visual clutter is the enemy of small spaces

Small is beautiful. It's also hip these days, especially when it comes to living spaces. Hung over from decades of consuming like it was going out of style, millions of Americans are embracing the simplicity movement. They're often starting at home, downsizing to smaller, more modest homes. When square footage is limited, you must carefully consider what items are truly important to you and how they will fit in your home. If you don't, you'll end up overwhelmed with visual clutter, and those truly special items will get lost in the shuffle. Which items are most representative of me/our family? Which items serve critical purposes and cannot be left behind? Use those questions to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Additional strategies for organizing a small space

Make a plan: Think about how the space is likely to be used and then design around it. This is particularly important for small spaces like dorm rooms that have to encompass everything from eating to sleeping, entertaining and — oh, yes — studying. Sketch out the floor plan on a sheet of paper and play out the most likely flow of traffic.

Proactively problem solve: Every living space, big or small, has a problem. It's just that problem areas are a lot more visible in tight spaces — so you have to get out ahead of them before they overwhelm you. Using a rough floor-plan sketch, identify potential (or actual) trouble spots, like that area two steps in from the front door, and keep a running list of ideas for staying on top of it.

One great resource is — a virtual pin board you can use to organize visual clips of potential solutions. You have to be invited to use it, but we can help you with that. Just post "Invite me to Pinterest" on our Facebook wall ( and we'll help you get set up.

Hang curtains: Alcoves, closets with no doors, or open shelves can serve as great spaces for organizing, but aren't always fun to look at. Hang a curtain and voila! you have chic containment.

Make a habit: The key to happiness in small spaces is routine. If you make it a habit to clean up your area, apartment or room for five minutes each day, you won't find yourself overwhelmed and avoiding the whole mess down the line.

Got something new? Toss something old: Each time you bring in something new, find something that you can get rid of, sell or give away.

Use nesting tables: There's nothing like a set of tables that fits and looks like one table but really is two or three separate pieces. Perfect for entertaining, nesting tables are a small space's dream.

Look up: There is a lot more to square footage than just the floor space. Your walls are not just for decoration; they can double as significant storage areas and organizers as well. Hang a chair rail with hooks, hang rods with baskets or even put racks on the wall for items like bikes and you'll free up floor space.

Visual clutter is the enemy of small spaces 09/09/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 8, 2011 10:51am]
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