Décor solutions for limited spacePublished on November 24, 2012

  • Murphy bed from tailored living

The current trend toward trading large spaces for more compact living quarters means many homeowners are faced with the challenge of adapting both their lifestyle and décor to suit a smaller space.


Many, like Ottawa realtor Elaine Taggart, find this a welcome challenge. When she and her husband Keith decided to downsize from their 4,000-square-foot home to a condo with less than half the space, she found that getting rid of furniture was not only essential, but liberating.

“We were fortunate that our buyers purchased most of our furniture so we didn’t have to go through as much angst about parting with possessions.  We gave a lot away to charity and some to the kids,” she explains. “We knew that the traditional furniture from our family home wouldn’t work for our new open space.” 

Purging is a crucial part of the downsizing process. Once that is done, the excitement of starting anew begins to set in. Creating a space that suits a lifestyle built around the luxury of ample storage can be a daunting task, but there are some time-tested tips and tricks that can help.

Elaine advises that built-ins are essential when creating a less-is-more environment. Things like customized workspaces; drop-down beds and compact furniture are all popular solutions for small-space décor. 

Expert Tips

Lorin Russell, award- winning senior designer with Muskoka Cabinet Company, on efficient use of cabinet and floor space:

Purge: If you haven’t used it in the past six months, do you really need it? If it’s sentimental, consider a long-term storage location. 

Plan: Decide which household items you will use most often and plan on placing them within easy reach. Typically, in cabinets and on shelves that are 27” to 59” from finished floor.

Function: Drawers will make the space you have more accessible and help keep you more organized.

Customize: Match the space to your unique storage needs. 

Style: Keep storage cabinets simple, with solid colours and flat slab or basic frame facades.

How to light a small space: Tips from Hera Arevian, owner of Arevco Lighting:

Choose floor lamps with smaller bases or offset bases that tuck under the furniture.

Indirect lighting like torchieres, wall sconces or semi-flush fixtures throw light up to the ceiling, giving a more spacious effect.

Wall-mounted swing arms or pendants conserve surface space on bedside or living room tables. 

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