Editor’s note: Joseph Pubillones is taking some time off. This column originally published in 2016.
The saying goes that “Good things come in small packages.” That is true when it comes to perfume and jewelry, but in regard to real estate, it’s something completely different. Everyone always wants more space, but it is amazing to compare what is considered adequate living space in different places around the world.
In the United States, an average home is 2,300 square feet, which is considered the norm — but size is also dependent on where in the U.S. you live. A New York City one-bedroom condo averages at 600 square feet. However, in Florida, the same one-bedroom condo is usually 1,000 square feet.
In Spain, the average home is 1,100 square feet with one bedroom condos averaging around 400 square feet. Small homes can be comfortable, wonderful and extremely stylish.
Designing a small home has its challenges. But believe it or not, the opportunities that a small home can offer are amazing. Sometimes pocket-size spaces are able to make the most of design. To live in a small space requires a very clear idea on how to live and how to decorate.
The first tip for decorating a small space is to consider the space in terms of multi-tasking potential. For example, this could mean using a sofa as everyday seating during the day, as a dining banquette at times and as a bed during the night. With that could be a dining table that doubles as a table during meals, then as a desk when needed and as an area to stage projects or work on others.
The second thing to take into consideration is the fact that storage is always lacking in small spaces. One must look to every nook and cranny for viable places to store things. Under furniture, behind drapery, and vertical space need to be investigated to make small spaces work. Sometimes this means giving up expected furniture such as nightstands in favor of chests or bookcases.
Boats offer a great lesson for those decorating small areas, where there is a dedicated area for everything and no room for wasted space.
The third thing to consider is that, contrary to the belief that one larger space is better, an important component of small spaces is the separation of functions. Sometimes the layout of a small space has too many walls, but on the other hand those walls may offer the psychological idea of more space. When walls are lacking, the idea of space may be created by hanging floor to ceiling drapes, which create the illusion of walls.
The fourth tip is about imagining space. I am not a promoter of walls of mirrors, but mirrors are another source when designing in tight quarters. Strategically placed mirrors can create the vision of more space. They can actually make it seem as if there is more space by reflecting a window or reflecting existing doorways to multiply the number of architectural openings.
Ultimately, small spaces should be approached with outside-the-box creativity. The most successful small spaces are the ones that make you think “Oh, I would have never thought of that!”
• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida.
2020, Creators Syndicate