Saturday, December 14, 2013

Love of Small Spaces

I love small spaces.  I love the challenges.  I love to see the possibilities come to form.  I love organization.  I love to create aesthetic.  I am a minimalist by nature.

My Facebook friends notice that I frequently post design ideas and 'tiny homes' articles.  I love it when people think outside the box.

Here are some pictures from my former down town office.  I really wanted to put French doors here, but unfortunately this was a weight bearing wall.  In fact this was the original brick exterior wall, before an addition was put on.  The compromise was to create a long window and to have a glass panel put in.  Landlord Kurt Halmer and Phil Sommer of Sommer Design Studio both helped me here.

The window was limited to the height of the textured glass available.  Hence the small window on top of the side panel.  We took out the wood insets in the old doors and replaced them with the textured textured glass.

Inside my office was a door leading to the outside.  We added inserts of the glass there too, as well as replacing the glass on the long side window that opened to allow ventilation.

This textured wall was done by taking long pieces of grass and painting over them like mad, using a roller.  The trick was to start in one corner and continue around the room so it would look like the wind was blowing from the same direction.

Here is a 'Sommer Design' indoor water fountain.

The Ikea baskets house my hanging file frames.  Much nicer than a metal file cabinet and more compact as well. With the help of a couple of skilled friends and a free weekend we created built in furniture and a framework around the whole room.

This was my version of a Japanese garden.   The bamboo frame gave the plants a place to live and because the frame was free standing  eight inches from the wall, it made the room feel airy and larger. I bought lengths of bamboo in bulk, wired the joins together through drilled holes and covered the wire with rattan ribbon.

Wood from old utility shelving was salvaged to create cheap custom made furniture to fit the space.  Having shelves mounted on the wall left uncluttered floor space and still allowed that everything I needed was at hand.

The whole idea is that if I have to spend eight working hours a day in a small 8' by 10' room without going bonkers, I need natural light, beauty, and a feeling of open space. The challenge with small spaces is to create visual space.  No clutter, no excessive furniture or knick knacks.

I presently work and live in the same building; a century old  Victorian that my landlords duplexed.  I love it.  This is the room where I work.

The biggest challenge was how to downsize my personal living space to 250 square feet. The rest of the studio flat is a spacious uncluttered open reception area and my office itself. My landlords blessed me by installing natural bamboo flooring. The continuous natural floor gives the eye the impression of more space.

You can get a sense of how narrow my kitchen is by this photo.

The fridge on the right is the kitchen boundary and beyond is the sitting area.  When this was a single family home, this room was a child's bedroom, probably the nursery, with no closets.

Underneath the counter is the washing machine.  I have since replaced this appliance with an apartment sized front loading model that fits the counter top exactly. The kitchen cabinets and counter are on the left against the wall.

The advantage here is triangulation; there is only three steps from the sink to the fridge.  Only about three steps anywhere really.

Here is the view of the sink and cabinets.  I took off the upper doors to enjoy seeing my beautiful pottery.  The great thing about organizing small spaces is that if you don't see it, you probably don't have it.

The pantry cabinet in the photo below occupies the 'dead space' behind the door.  Broom and mop hide behind here too.  A clothes rack is also attached to the back of the door. Pots and pans are hung on a rack on the wall above.

When you have tall ceilings, shelving and cupboards can be mounted on the walls.

 The kitchen island is actually two 'assembly required' dressers from Canadian Tire.  I bolted them together and created an impervious work surface by tacking a piece of robust fake-wood flooring on top.

The wicker drawers provide great storage when every inch counts.  The only caution is to be careful of the weight.  Great for spices, Tupperware, pasta, linens, cooking tools, bits and hand blender.  Everything is at hand.

I chose not to make space for a range.  Instead I have two counter top induction cookers, a hot plate and a smaller wall mounted oven.  I have a rice cooker, a slow cooker, a counter top grill, and a warming plate.  These appliances can move around depending on what I am doing.  I can morph what space I need free and how my work is going to flow.

Here you can see the fridge and the sitting room beyond.  I used a canvas and frame screen taped to the right of the fridge to create a 'room' divider. I painted it to match the walls.

I appreciate that I am able to cook and visit with my friends at the same time.I am a vegan cook and on occasion I cater from this tiny kitchen.  I don't entertain chaos, so sometimes I really need to think through my battle-plan before I start.  Still, the space works.

I am not formally trained in design, however I have consulted for businesses and residential homes. I specialize in how to make something out of nothing, in little space and on a shoe string budget.

For this service, I charge my usual hourly rate.

Take time to enjoy your nests and have a wonderful holiday season
_ Nelda

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