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What's the key to living large in a small space?

Residents looking to embrace tiny living should have a 'start fresh mentality,' say small space experts.
Mid-century modern furniture allows for a more airy feel and gives the illusion of a larger space.

As Lower Mainland cities looks to densify and build more units, residents are learning how to make the most out of small spaces. 

Danny Chan and Sandra Dee-Chan, owners and interior designers of Happy Home Design, say there is an increasing mentality that small living is here to stay. As more cities like Langley and Abbotsford create more condo-living, the single-family home is becoming less commonplace, Chan said. 

The key to strategically designing a small space so that it has all the comforts and functionality of a larger one is a “start fresh mentality,” according to the pair. The first step to this frame of mind is to consider if your old furniture will work in the new space, Chan said. 

“This is a blank canvas. Give yourself as much freedom as you need without holding on to your old things. So in a sense, it’s a new beginning,” he said. 

According to Dee-Chan this starts with evaluating how you want your lifestyle to fit into the space you are creating. Residents should evaluate how they want to use the space and zone it accordingly, she said. 

The first question they ask clients when conceptualizing a space is: what do you want to achieve?

Once a resident is able to map out the goals they want for their home and how to utilize it, Chan said that the next step is to “edit, edit, edit.” 

“An expression in small-space living is, 'Less is more.' That term originally came to be in 1947. You can see it's been a while since that first came out, but in our world right now, that we live in, that is still very strong,” Chan said. 

Instead of having five or six pieces of art on the wall, Chan recommends that you pick your two favourites or create a rotation where the art is changed every so often. Having some blank space around items that are meant to be emphasized adds an element of elegance while also allowing the resident to appreciate the piece. 

Another trick of the trade is to pick furniture with narrow legs that allows you to see the floor. Mid-century modern can be a go-to style for this type of furniture, Chan said. In many cases, a cabinet, buffet, or sofas in this style will be higher off the ground. 

Chan and Dee-Chan say this gives the effect of the space feeling less heavy, more airy as well as giving the illusion of having more floor space. 

Another element that can make or break a small space is having items that serve more than one purpose, what Chan and Dee-Chan call “multi-purpose flow design.” 

“When you are starting from scratch, think about the furniture that you're buying. What purpose will they serve? Can they double duty, even triple duty?” Chan said.