How to Make a Small Place Feel…Big!
Celeb decorator and Oprah regular Nate Berkus used smart styling (and his hsn collection) to transform his 29-year-old sister Marni Golden's one-room New York City apartment into a chic home for entertaining. Keep reading for his genius tips for spaces of all sizes.
1. Splurge on a Couple of Forever Pieces
"Whether you're living in a dorm room or in your first apartment, resist that transient feeling," says Berkus. "Save up for one or two pieces that you will still love in 10 years. You'll have a space that you'll want to live in, not just a place to change clothes and sleep." Marni's couch, which she's had for years, is a good example.
Consider a chaise: It's perfect for solo lounging or for squeezing friends on it.
2. Expand Your Office to Your Walls
"In a small home like Marni's where you don't have much surface space, a corkboard is a solve-all for places to put pictures, bills and keepsakes," says Berkus. He made this extra-large one from a roll of cork and moldings from Home Depot.
Keep your memories close: Marni posts all of her shower and wedding invites here, as well as special tokens from her travels.
3. Embrace the Open Space!
Embrace the open space! "In a studio apartment, you have to be comfortable with everything being on display, and that includes your bed," says Berkus. Instead of using a screen ("They're so old-school!"), he suggests pushing a couch with a high back against the foot of the bed, which creates the illusion of separation. If you have extra space in your home, you can do the same with a guest room to make it also work as an office or den.
Need ideas? Berkus studies photos of old hotel lobbies for seating arrangements. We like Hotel Spaces by Montse Borras (Rockport Publishers, $40).
4. Carve Out "Little Rooms"
"By separating Marni's studio into 'zones,' we created the feeling of living in separate spaces," says Berkus. The focal point of each space is a table: the Moroccan one in the "living room," the white lacquer one in the "dining room," and the desk in the "office."
Simplicity rules, says Berkus: "Try one elegant candlestick instead of a vase or pottery—it takes up less space."
5. Add Some Whimsy With Color
Marni's palette is gray, beige and cream, so Berkus added some unexpected color with the blue chest. "Painting a piece of furniture is a great weekend project—and a cheap way to mix up your look," he says.
Decorate in odd numbers: Lamp, picture, frame, flowers, dish. "Five looks better to the eye than four," says Berkus.
6. Make Your Bed the Centerpiece
In a small space, the bed should be as inviting as a couch, says Berkus. Layer your pillows and even consider an upholstered headboard; this one costs $300 on hsn.com. "The bed is just yummy now," says Marni. "I have trouble getting out of it, which is a good and bad thing."
Marni's trick for keeping the place looking good? "I keep it clean, clean, clean," she says. "When you live in a small space, you have to respect it more."
7. Redo Your Closet
"Let me tell you, Marni's closet did not start out looking like this," says Berkus. "We started piles—keep, charity and resale." He also used Huggable Hangers (hsn.com) to increase the storage space.
Clever storage tip: "Marni has a serious bag collection," says Berkus. "I used magazine files to organize her clutches."