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5 Design Hacks to Make Small Spaces Cozier and More Functional

5 Design Hacks to Make Small Spaces Cozier and More Functional

Living in small house or tiny apartment can sometimes feel constricting and limiting. As a result, you’re often forced to get creative with layout, furniture, design, and storage. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to making small spaces cozier and more functional, here are a handful of design hacks most will find valuable.

1. Use Bright Paint Colors

The community used special rubber-based traffic paint to fill in the design, which they received at the standard city utility price. The paint is manufactured specifically to withstand the typical wear-and-tear of being used on a city road. Photo: David Derong/Iowa State Daily
    (Photo by Ames247)

    Since you can’t actually make the room bigger, you’ll need to leverage some design hacks. One of the best ways to do this is by painting the walls.

    “Light and bright walls are more reflective, making a space feel open and airy, which helps maximize the effect created by natural light,” says Mihai-Cristian Micle of Freshhome. “Dark colors, on the other hand, tend to absorb light, making a room look smaller.”

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    Another trick is to paint wall trim and moldings a lighter color than the walls. As a result, the walls actually appear further back than they are. This can make your living spaces seem much bigger.

    2. Create a Focal Point

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      (Photo by Katri)

      Small spaces need focal points that command attention. Perhaps the best option for creating a cozy focal point in the living room is a gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces are not only cost-effective sources of heat in small rooms, but they also provide light and ambiance. The fireplace establishes a natural furniture layout and guides the room in a particular direction.

      Another ideal focal point is a large wall mirror. Mirrors reflect light and create the illusion of more space. They’re also great decorative elements and allow you to fill lots of wall space without unnecessary clutter.

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      3. Let in the Natural Light

      SONY DSC
        (Photo by romana klee)

        Dark spaces feel small and dingy, while light spaces feel open and airy. Wherever there are windows, make sure you’re maximizing the natural light they provide. While it may be necessary to have blinds or curtains to ensure privacy, make sure you choose the right ones. White curtains are great because they can give you privacy without blocking out light. If using blinds, angle them in such a way that they still let in light without giving others a view into your living space.

        4. Be Strategic with Furniture

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          (Photo by Bonsoni.com)

          You need to make the most out of the furniture you purchase. For example, buy a coffee table that doubles as a storage unit, or purchase a sleeper sofa so you can give guests a place to sleep, even if there’s no guest bedroom. Find as many uses as possible for your furniture and design elements. The versatility won’t make rooms bigger, but it will make them more functional.

          5. Get Rid of the Junk

          851672959_6fc621ed25_o
            (Photo by Avi)

            There’s nothing cozy or functional about having lots of stuff. One of the beauties of living in a small apartment or home is that you’re forced to get rid of things you don’t need.

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            Go through all of your belongings and ask yourself two simple questions: (1) Have I used this item in the past six months? (2) Will I use this item in the next six months? If the honest answer to both of these questions is no, then it needs to go.

            Let Your Creative Side Loose

            When you’re working within the confines of a small space, every individual element suddenly becomes more important. You can’t afford to waste any nook or cranny and you must take advantage of every opportunity to maximize functionality and aesthetic appeal.

            Use these five tips as a helpful starting point and don’t be afraid to let your creative side shine. There are no steadfast rules. When it comes to design, beauty is in the eye of the decorator.

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            Featured photo credit: Ames247 via flic.kr

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            Anna Johansson

            Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends.

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            Last Updated on March 13, 2019

            How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

            How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

            Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

            You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

            Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

            1. Work on the small tasks.

            When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

            Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

            2. Take a break from your work desk.

            Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

            Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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            3. Upgrade yourself

            Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

            The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

            4. Talk to a friend.

            Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

            Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

            5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

            If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

            Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

            Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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            6. Paint a vision to work towards.

            If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

            Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

            Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

            7. Read a book (or blog).

            The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

            Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

            Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

            8. Have a quick nap.

            If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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            9. Remember why you are doing this.

            Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

            What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

            10. Find some competition.

            Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

            Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

            11. Go exercise.

            Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

            Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

            As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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            Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

            12. Take a good break.

            Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

            Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

            Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

            Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

            More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

            Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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