Small space? Think about hiring a designer

October 24, 2012

Chances are that if you live inside the Beltway, you have limited square footage. Whether you’re in an old rowhouse in the District or a bungalow in the suburbs, space is almost always at a premium.

And though maximizing space while also taking design and function into account might seem to require a little smoke and mirrors (mirrors will, in fact, make a space look bigger), it mostly takes smart shopping for “decorative choices in a scale appropriate to the space,” says Mary Douglas Drysdale, a Washington-based interior designer and 2009 nominee for a Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Interior Design Award. In the living room, for example, instead of a room-dominating L-shaped sofa, a cozy settee might make more sense — especially when paired with slipper chairs and poufs — and will provide more flexibility in function and furniture layout.

When you are ready to shop for quality furniture pieces that will fit your space, “it’s worth it to hire a decorator for a couple of hours,” says designer Jennifer Wagner Schmidt. As owner of Northern Virginia-based JWS Interiors, which focuses on affordable design, Schmidt says that buying furniture is an investment in your home, and hiring a designer is a good way to protect your investment.

Double-duty pieces, abundant lighting and a monochromatic palette are other sleights of hand that will visually expand rooms. But above all else, make sure to edit, edit, edit. “You really have to have organization when you have a small space,” Schmidt says. “I think that should be your first goal.”

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