8 Tactics for Renovating a Small Space

written by:
June 2, 2014
From color palettes to vertical accents, we've rounded up eight proven tactics for making the most of a small space renovation.
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  Make the most of a small footprint by eradicating any physical or visual barriers—like upper kitchen cabinets. Elevating cabinetry off the floor is another crucial tactic. The architect of this renovated midcentury home in Austin, Rick Black, explains: “One of the goals was to make the islands more like furniture than like heavy objects that go all the way to the floor.” Photo by Brent Humphreys.  Photo by: Brent HumphreysCourtesy of: Brent Humphreys

    Make the most of a small footprint by eradicating any physical or visual barriers—like upper kitchen cabinets. Elevating cabinetry off the floor is another crucial tactic. The architect of this renovated midcentury home in Austin, Rick Black, explains: “One of the goals was to make the islands more like furniture than like heavy objects that go all the way to the floor.” Photo by Brent Humphreys.

    Photo by: Brent Humphreys

    Courtesy of: Brent Humphreys

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  A gut renovation of a 400-square-foot apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan yielded a bright new bathroom. Complementing the tiny, apartment-sized bathtub is a salvaged porcelain sink and new white tile, plus graphic tile inserts that draw the eye to colorful moments in the space. Photo by Alan Gastelum.

    A gut renovation of a 400-square-foot apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan yielded a bright new bathroom. Complementing the tiny, apartment-sized bathtub is a salvaged porcelain sink and new white tile, plus graphic tile inserts that draw the eye to colorful moments in the space. Photo by Alan Gastelum.

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  Berlin designer Peter Fehretnz advises picking a variety of tones within a single colorway for paint and furnishings: "If you choose red, use a mix of reds—some should be more yellow, others more blue or more pink. Colors appear especially vibrant this way, and they won’t clash." Photo by Peter Fehrentz.  Photo by: Peter FehrentzCourtesy of: Peter Fehrentz

    Berlin designer Peter Fehretnz advises picking a variety of tones within a single colorway for paint and furnishings: "If you choose red, use a mix of reds—some should be more yellow, others more blue or more pink. Colors appear especially vibrant this way, and they won’t clash." Photo by Peter Fehrentz.

    Photo by: Peter Fehrentz

    Courtesy of: Peter Fehrentz

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  In Portland, custom woodwork and an open interior define a 520-square-foot backyard retreat for a busy family. Insanely detailed pre-planning means that all the main built-ins—a sofa bed, table and chairs, and plenty of storage—run the length of the space and are tucked snugly beneath the ceiling. Photo by Lincoln Barbour.  Photo by: Lincoln BarbourCourtesy of: Lincoln Barbour

    In Portland, custom woodwork and an open interior define a 520-square-foot backyard retreat for a busy family. Insanely detailed pre-planning means that all the main built-ins—a sofa bed, table and chairs, and plenty of storage—run the length of the space and are tucked snugly beneath the ceiling. Photo by Lincoln Barbour.

    Photo by: Lincoln Barbour

    Courtesy of: Lincoln Barbour

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  A couch—upholstered by local firm Revive Upholstery & Design—slides out on hidden casters and transforms into a full-size bed (with the headboard doubling as a linen cupboard) where guests can sleep. The dining table tucks under a shelf when it’s not pulled out for meals. There’s even vertical storage for canvases for this Portland couple's teenage daughter.  Photo by: Lincoln Barbour
    A couch—upholstered by local firm Revive Upholstery & Design—slides out on hidden casters and transforms into a full-size bed (with the headboard doubling as a linen cupboard) where guests can sleep. The dining table tucks under a shelf when it’s not pulled out for meals. There’s even vertical storage for canvases for this Portland couple's teenage daughter.

    Photo by: Lincoln Barbour

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  Go vertical. San Francisco architect Christi Azevedo spent a year and a half designing and fabricating nearly everything save for original brick walls to convert a 93-square-foot brick boiler room. “I treated the interior like a custom piece of furniture,” she says. She raised the roof five feet and added a full kitchen, a bathroom, closets, and a sleeping loft, accessed via a steel ship’s ladder and a glass walkway. Photo by Cesar Rubio.  Photo by: Cesar RubioCourtesy of: Cesar Rubio

    Go vertical. San Francisco architect Christi Azevedo spent a year and a half designing and fabricating nearly everything save for original brick walls to convert a 93-square-foot brick boiler room. “I treated the interior like a custom piece of furniture,” she says. She raised the roof five feet and added a full kitchen, a bathroom, closets, and a sleeping loft, accessed via a steel ship’s ladder and a glass walkway. Photo by Cesar Rubio.

    Photo by: Cesar Rubio

    Courtesy of: Cesar Rubio

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  What you may lose in inches is worth it when it comes to building sleek storage that can be closed off to hide clutter. And don't forget lighting. Architect Philip Ryan placed fluorescent bulbs that mimic daylight in the ceiling alcove of his Brooklyn apartment. The glow reflecting down the walls makes the room feel more expansive. Photo by Gile Ashford.  Photo by: Gile AshfordCourtesy of: Gile Ashford

    What you may lose in inches is worth it when it comes to building sleek storage that can be closed off to hide clutter. And don't forget lighting. Architect Philip Ryan placed fluorescent bulbs that mimic daylight in the ceiling alcove of his Brooklyn apartment. The glow reflecting down the walls makes the room feel more expansive. Photo by Gile Ashford.

    Photo by: Gile Ashford

    Courtesy of: Gile Ashford

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  And again, verticality is your friend. Architect Aaron Ritenour enhanced the ceiling height of this Athens apartment by installing 300 vertical strips along the wall hiding built-in storage for a home office. Photo by Gunnar Knechtel.  Photo by: Gunnar Knechtel

    And again, verticality is your friend. Architect Aaron Ritenour enhanced the ceiling height of this Athens apartment by installing 300 vertical strips along the wall hiding built-in storage for a home office. Photo by Gunnar Knechtel.

    Photo by: Gunnar Knechtel

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