Smaller homes are popular: Retirees, new families, single buyers, post-divorce folks, all consider down scaling their living space.
You’ve taken the giant step and purchased a smaller home. Downsizing it’s called, and lots of people do it. How do you make the new place yours, express yourself and settle in? Should your decor be cozy or dramatic? Do you fill smaller space with small scale pieces? How do you know your furniture will fit?
With 25 years’ experience, expert decorator Susan Kroeger of Susan Kroeger, Ltd in Winnetka, IL (in a telephone interview) strongly advises you to be open-minded and embrace your new way of life. “You’ve finished raising and educating your children. You’re retiring from a long, successful career. You want space that’s low maintenance, comfortable and personal,” she says.
“It’s important to fix your thoughts on moving forward to a better home,” she points out. “Understand you aren’t giving up anything – you’re gaining a lot.”
A simpler life. Full of traveling, creating, socializing. Start with a plan, says the expert. Make your home exactly what suits you. Discard what you never liked; things you’ve carried on your back for years you haven’t used for six months or more. Purchase a few important pieces in grand scale for generous, luxurious and comfortable feelings.
Decorators say fill small spaces with small pieces is old-time thinking. Large pieces are inviting. A small space filled with little things looks cluttered and confused. The trick is – fewer pieces, dramatic scale.
A bed heaped with fluffy pillows and buried in a deep, soft comforter, makes you want to jump in. Experience luxury, pleasure. Get that aura with carefully selected larger pieces like a down-filled sofa in a neutral color or an overstuffed chair for a quiet corner.
Kroeger likes to showcase sumptuous pieces by lavishing color on your walls and in floor coverings. Pretty and restful shades like saturated greens or greys, earthy cream or mushroom for things more costly and difficult to change. Then splurge on dramatic deep colors or patterns for accents and accessories or slip covers. Wines, blues, citrus hues or even orange put life in today’s pallet. If you follow that advice, you can make changes when you want to, without overwhelming expense.
It’s also a good idea to create unity in a smaller home. You may want to keep similar colors running thematically through your home, varying shade and intensity. Consider that many rooms in popular open floor plans are visible from the public areas, so keeping a color theme seems to create larger spaces.
Don’t be afraid to use patterns and prints, but if you put a patterned wall covering in the bathroom, for example, repeat it in a living room toss pillow or a bedroom drapery.
A Few Tips from Decorating Pros:
Draperies are more popular than ever, adding warmth and softness. Decorators use quality fabrics in important colors.
Buy at least one dramatic item that expresses your personality. Try buying four good pieces. A pair of chairs, accent chair and sofa. Buy them together for a cohesive look.
Use neutral colors as a canvas for your complete look. “Don’t be afraid of color or drama,” Kroeger says. “But use them wisely in ways that can be altered at will.”
Use large-scale pieces wherever you can. To fit them in, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. Large scale, less clutter, a sumptuous atmosphere filled with natural fabrics is so inviting.
Treat yourself to window treatments. Experts encourage buying the best you can afford to transform each window into a work of art.
Put a surprise color in the powder room – a very public room. Let loose and have fun.
Have a good time as your downsizing process unfolds. Think forward. Reward yourself for all your hard work. What an adventure this is going to be; settling into your very own hard-earned space.