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How to make the most out of your small space, according to experts

Samantha Grindell   

How to make the most out of your small space, according to experts
LifeThelife5 min read
Apartment Therapy is hosting its first ever Small/Cool Experiences At Home virtual event, sharing tips on how to live smaller.    KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images
  • Apartment Therapy is hosting its first annual Small/Cool Experiences At Home, with the site offering live events on Instagram from Friday through Sunday.
  • Design experts like HGTV's Emily Henderson and duo Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are lending their skills to the event by designing small spaces of their own.
  • Ahead of the event, Henderson, Berkus, and Brent shared their advice for optimizing a small space with Insider.
  • Making sure the area isn't filled with too much stuff, picking multi-functional furniture, and varying the height of items can all make a space feel larger.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Living small or tiny has never been more popular, despite the challenges that come with reduced square footage.

It can be difficult to know how to decorate a small space so it fits your needs without feeling cramped, pitting comfort and function against each other.

But Apartment Therapy is stepping in with a virtual event that will help you get the most out of living small.

Apartment Therapy is hosting its first-ever Small/Cool Experience At Home event from Friday to Sunday

The event was born out of Apartment Therapy's Small/Cool contest, in which real people submit photos of their small spaces around the world and others vote on the ones they like best.

The contest had been on hiatus for a few years, but Apartment Therapy decided to bring it back, along with an event to complement it.

Voting for the contest is open now.

The event, which was originally supposed to take place in-person but has since gone virtual, is largely taking place on Instagram, with Apartment Therapy hosting live info sessions with design experts, games, and other activities on its page throughout the weekend.

Apartment Therapy even enlisted 20 designers, including HGTV's Emily Henderson and duo Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, to bring some of 2020's biggest design trends to its event, with the experts creating renderings of small spaces.

Emily Henderson created this small space for Apartment Therapy's event.      Emily Henderson/Apartment Therapy

And the event feels more relevant than ever now that people all over the world have been confined to their homes.

"We're all spending more time in our spaces than we ever intended to," Laura Schocker, Apartment Therapy's editor-in-chief, told Insider.

"We always think home is really important in Apartment Therapy, but now it's doing more for us," she added. "I'm working out in this space, I'm working in this space, I'm teaching in this space."

As a result, making the home feel like a sanctuary has become a priority for many people. "I think people are kind of looking around now that they're spending so much time in these four walls and thinking about how they can make things a little bit nicer," Schocker said.

Ahead of the event, Henderson, Berkus, and Brent shared some of their advice for decorating a small space with Insider

emily henderson nate berkus jeremiah brent
Nate Berkus, Jeremiah Brent, and Emily Henderson told Insider some of their hacks for decorating small spaces.      Steve Granitz / Contributor / Chris Weeks / Stringer / Getty Images

The designers first pointed to some common mistakes people make when decorating a small space, such as sticking to a monochromatic color scheme or filling the space with too many items.

"We think that having a matching furniture set can make a room feel cramped because it is visually one note," Henderson said. "Variety is important — and looks better."

"Also, choosing furniture that is simply too big for your space will make it look and actually be more cramped than necessary," she added.

Berkus and Brent, who have recently created a line with LivingSpaces, echoed Henderson, saying it's important not to put too much stuff in a smaller area. "A small space is especially unforgiving of clutter or simply too much stuff," they said.

tiny home kitchen
It's important not to have too much stuff in small spaces.      Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

"Not utilizing your wall space for storage is a bad call, because if every decor piece is on the floor, then it can quickly make it feel cluttered," Henderson also said.

Making use of height in your space helps you add more to it while preventing it from feeling too busy.

Functional furniture can make a big difference in a small space

To optimize a small space, it's important to fill it with furniture that can double as the storage you need.

"Opt for the nightstand with two drawers instead of one," Henderson gave as an example.

"Baskets are everybody's friends," Berkus and Brent offered. "They can live on the floor or on a shelf, and corral magazines, papers, and throw blankets. "

"When you can, opt for furniture with drawers," they added. "Keep the baskets uniform to keep the visuals clean. Pick one style and stick to it."

You can also have fun with the way you store things. "For kitchens, think outside of the box, using items that might not be made for a kitchen to hang pots and pans from off the side of your cabinets or from the ceiling," Henderson said.

"In my first studio apartment in New York City, I turned the closet into a de facto entertainment center by mounting the TV inside the door and stored all the components inside," Berkus said.

"Interior organization will help you to keep things neat day-to-day because there is a spot for everything," Henderson added.

Mixing tall and short furniture can make a space feel larger than it actually is

Your inclination might be to pick all shorter furniture for a small space, but that can actually make your space look even smaller than it is.

"A mix is better," Berkus and Brent said of making use of taller and shorter furniture.

Cozy living room
Mixing taller and shorter furniture is important.      Syda Productions / Shutterstock

"If you have a sofa that's low to the floor, balance it out with a pedestal table or chairs with sculptural legs," they added. "This will help the space feel less encumbered."

"It's all about balance to keep it airy and visually interesting," Henderson said.

"In a small space, we like to mix it up with having the larger pieces be raised off the ground to make those feel less visually heavy and then choosing smaller items that have a solid base touch the floor," she added.

But the most important thing to remember when decorating a space is to make it feel like your own

"A great room feels deeply personal — assembled and collected over time," Berkus and Brent said. "Pay attention to the smallest details, and look for accessories that mean something to you."

"Take it all in, but at the end of the day, find your true style because copying someone else's won't make your house feel like a home," Henderson added.

You can see more tips from design experts on Apartment Therapy's Instagram through Sunday, and you can vote in its Small/Cool contest brackets here.

Read the original article on Insider