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Real Estate

How to make the most of a small space

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If you're feeling claustrophobic in your shoebox apartment, there are inexpensive, easy ways to make the most of your small space. Below are six tips to consider.

Select the right paint colors

Genevieve Gorder, Valspar Color Expert and host of HGTV’s "Dear Genevieve," says that there are four important factors to take into consideration when you are selecting a color to paint your small-sized rooms: the amount of natural light that filters into the room, the height of the ceiling, what you are going to use the room for and how much time you plan to spend in there.

Gorder advises choosing lighter hues if your space has low ceilings and little natural light. But this doesn't mean you have to pick a standard white or beige.

"Remember that every color has a neutral version of itself," Gorder says. "When you are visiting the chip racks, find a color you love and then look for a lighter hue of your selection."

If you are lucky enough to have scored a space where the natural light is plentiful, pick that bright, saturated color that you have always wished you could paint on your walls, she says.

Find ways to open up floor space

Janet Lee, author of "Living in a Nutshell," suggests moving your coat rack from the floor to the wall. Stick a coat hanger decal to your wall. Turn it into a three-dimensional coat rack by placing some Command-adhesive hooks or small nails around the decal. Now you have space to hang coats, purses and hats without taking up valuable floor space.

And don't forget to clear out all the clutter. Your tiny space will feel even smaller if junk is scattered everywhere. Simply keeping knickknacks, shoes, clothes and the like off the floor will open up space you didn’t know you had. Organize books and DVDs on shelves or in baskets. Tuck away items that you do not need very often in drawers or closets. Don't be afraid to get rid of items you can live without. An organized and tidy room will appear larger than one in which you cannot see the floor.

“We consider this floor treatment the ‘little black dress’ of interior design."

- Jon Call

Have your rugs work for you

Jon Call, the head of New York's Mr. Call Designs, suggests using custom-cut rugs to elongate and widen rooms. Measure four inches off all the walls to avoid heat vents and floor outlets, as well as cut and bind rugs, he advises.

"We consider this floor treatment the 'little black dress' of interior design," Call says.

As with paint colors, a lighter or monochromatic color scheme on your furniture and rugs will make a room look larger. Try to minimize the dividing lines between floors and walls. Rugs will dark colors and patterns may make a room appear cozier, which might not be your desired affect if your space feels cozy enough as is.

Create an illusion with mirrors

Use mirrors of all shapes and sizes to make your rooms look larger.

ApartmentTherapy.com suggests placing a floor-length mirror behind a piece of furniture that you squeezed into a tight space. Mirrors also maximize light, so you can place one across from a window or lamp and angle it at other areas of the room to direct light in that direction.

Situate a few small mirrors on the wall to emulate the effect of a large mirror without paying the same hefty price tag.

Utilize multipurpose furniture

Invest in furniture that also doubles as storage. Find a coffee table with drawers or shelves. Have your chest or ottoman function as a table, footrest and hidden storage space. Futons, pull-out couches and sofa beds are great items that you can use for sitting during the day and for sleeping at night. Use chairs that you can stack when you don’t need them. Scaling-down furniture to fit the size and feel of the room can help, too, as can going for a few large pieces instead of too many smaller items.   

How you arrange your furniture also makes a difference in how big or small a room looks. You don't want the furniture blocking the view into the room, so clear large pieces away from the walkway.