Small space doesn’t have to be bor­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - CON­NIE OLIVER

SOME­TIMES good things do come in small pack­ages. Our fea­ture pho­to­graph, cour­tesy of Ben­jamin Moore Paints, is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a small but stun­ning pow­der room that melds sev­eral de­sign styles into a har­mo­nious, eclec­tic space. Small doesn’t have to be bor­ing.

This space re­minds me of the dormer space that can be found on the sec­ond storey of some older homes. We have a sim­i­lar space on the sec­ond storey of our home that is about the same size and shape as the room in our pho­to­graph. Luck­ily, it used to be part of a granny suite so the dormer is ac­tu­ally plumbed be­cause it used to be the kitchen.

Spa­ces like this are quaint, of­ten hav­ing unique-shaped win­dows or an­gled ceil­ings. These fea­tures give these spa­ces in­stant charm. If you have a sim­i­lar space that is not be­ing uti­lized to its full po­ten­tial, why not con­sider con­vert­ing it into a two-piece en­suite sim­i­lar to the one in our pho­to­graph? The foot­print of these rooms is so small that it could be a fairly in­ex­pen­sive and quick DYI project in many cases, ex­cept per­haps for the plumb­ing if you’re start­ing from scratch.

Our fea­ture room is a stun­ner, yet there aren’t that many items in the room. It’s all about place­ment, colour and scale. The dec­o­ra­tive win­dow is the fo­cal point on which ev­ery­thing else is based.

If the win­dow in your dormer is less than im­pres­sive, con­sider cre­at­ing a fo­cal point us­ing dra­matic win­dow treat­ments or by re­plac­ing the glass with stained or leaded glass pan­els. If the space you’re con­sid­er­ing con­vert­ing does not have a win­dow (per­haps it’s a stor­age space or large closet, for in­stance) cre­ate a sense of a win­dow with an over­sized, dec­o­ra­tive mir­ror where a win­dow would nor­mally be. The mir­ror will re­flect light and vis­ually dou­ble the size of your tiny room.

The Ben­jamin Moore wall colour, Morn­ing Glory, is cur­rent and vi­brant with­out be­ing over­pow­er­ing. It makes the base­board and the or­nate oval win­dow pop.

Don’t be afraid to use a strong colour or pat­tern in a small space. A home I vis­ited years ago had a tiny, two-piece guest bath­room with a slid­ing door just off the en­try­way. It was painted in matte black, with muted gold -coloured fix­tures and gold-leafed plas­ter wall ap­pliqués on the black walls. The over­all look was ex­otic and rather re­gal. You’d think that black would be over­pow­er­ing in a small space but in this ex­am­ple it was quite the op­po­site.

If you’re not afraid of colour you might con­sider hot pink, ca­nary yel­low, navy, orange or red. Take a chance. It’s a small space to re­paint if it doesn’t work out. Un­like a bed­room or fam­ily room, these smaller spa­ces are not a place where you spend tons of time so the punch of colour is quite palat­able.

The stun­ning rough hewn wood van­ity and mod­ern sink strengthen the fo­cal point in this small space. I had men­tioned that there were sev­eral styles fea­tured in this room. The win­dow has a Vic­to­rian flavour while the van­ity and wood floor­ing are rus­tic. The ves­sel sink and white ac­cent ta­ble are mod­ern but all three styles work well to­gether. To save on your bud­get, see if you can work with what you have. Mix and match items un­til you find a good bal­ance. Again, if it doesn’t pan out, no harm done. Work with scale to cre­ate im­pact. The over­sized framed print lean­ing against the wall is quite large for such a small space but is an awe­some vis­ual ad­di­tion that doesn’t take up much space com­pared to the im­pact it of­fers. An­other item that could work in place of this large print is a sim­i­lar-sized dec­o­ra­tive mir­ror lean­ing against the wall. Some other ex­am­ples of large-scale items that could work in a sim­i­lar space are things like a white floor-to-ceil­ing Greek col­umn; a small, vin­tage, metal ice cream par­lor chair placed be­side the sink; tall top­i­aries flank­ing the sink and so on.

To keep a small space func­tional you need to keep it free of clut­ter. In our fea­ture room all the ne­ces­si­ties are stored on open glass shelv­ing to keep the space airy. The shelv­ing unit is quite util­i­tar­ian but it works. The only real ac­ces­sory is the small, clear glass bud vase on the van­ity, which holds a few sim­ple sprigs of flow­er­ing branches.

If you’ll no­tice, there aren’t any items hung on the up­per sec­tions of the walls. Ev­ery­thing is kept low-pro­file, al­low­ing the win­dow to dom­i­nate the room and the space to feel open. Items hung on the wall might make a room like this feel closed in. Be cog­nisant of place­ment.

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