Technique: Using Vertical Space to Expand Your Apartment

Technique: Using Vertical Space to Expand Your Apartment

(Editor’s Note: Marcia Harris is an interior designer based in Connecticut and co-founder of Itsy Bitsy Ritzy Shop, LLC, a full line of high-quality furniture for space-limited rooms which has been featured on RenovatingNYC. In this week’s post, Marcia talks about interior design techniques using vertical space to expand the perceived size of your apartment. We always welcome your comments and ideas on this topic.)

Using Vertical Space To Expand Your Apartment

By Marcia Harris / Marcia Harris Interiors

 You have a small space to furnish and it looks like you don’t have room for much at all. Perhaps you’re looking at your space the wrong way. Many people consider the length and width of the room and stop there. But often when you’re working with a small space the best place to look is up. In fact, the height of the room can help get more from you small space area.

Closet Storage

Lack of storage? Build up with closets and shelves.

Lack of storage space? Build up with closets or shelves. Not enough light? Think dramatic chandeliers or track lighting instead of floor lamps.  And how about a dresser? Something tall, narrow and not too deep might look best in your little place. Loft your bed and use the space below for storage or a desk area. Put recessed lighting in the ceilings and sconces on the walls. In both cases helps you save precious floor space while providing the light that you need.

Dining Room with chair rail

Consider adding a chair rail around the room with or without raised panels below. Paint the chair rail and area below in a white semi-gloss with top portion a matte color.

Here are some paint color tips that will make you space look larger. If you have normal 8-foot ceilings, painting the ceilings white will add height to the room. Tall ceilings or a loft space suggest just the opposite approach. In these cases you could paint your ceiling a medium or dark color to help give the illusion of lowering ceiling which makes the space feel more intimate. If the ceilings are taller than 8’, consider adding a chair rail around the room (with or without raised panels below) and paint the chair rail and below a white gloss or semi-gloss paint with the top portion a matte color. This will add architectural detail and interest to an otherwise tall stretch of wall. Or, you might consider adding an accent color to one wall for added drama.

Accent  Wall For Drama

Consider an accent wall for drama. Here we used three shades of grey and applied them as ‘Xs’ across the wall and then blended the light medium and darker grey to create this look of faux concrete. It adds drama and depth to an otherwise generic wall.

Have items that you won’t be using everyday?  You might consider building shelves over your windows or doors. This generally is wasted space and can be used effectively to store old books, colored boxes or even an array of baskets. Be sure to have a way to get up to these higher areas like a small ladder or stepstool. A decorative library ladder painted in some dramatic accent color can become a piece of practical sculpture if you have a lot of hard to reach items. Arrange these items artfully and do be creative. For example, you might want to get same size black boxes and white boxes. They can be alternated and equally spaced to form a graphic pattern. Or keep these shadow boxes all white to give a clean, architectural custom look.

Accent  Wall with shadow boxes

Black shadow boxes arranged graphically on tall wall to add visual interest.

Use all of what you have and this includes the vertical. It’s a smarter way to live in limited space New York apartments.