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Home & Garden

Some big ideas to expand a snug place

Want to do something more creative with your tight living quarters but don't know where to start? Interior designer Heather Ashton offers some suggestions on how to deliver a big jolt of personality to a small living space.

PHOTOS: At home with Heather Ashton

Don't be scared of paint: Most people think a color, especially a darker tone, makes a small space look smaller. But you aren't fooling anyone, so have fun with it. Paint is an easy way to add personality and dimension to a room.

Let your hoarding tell a story: Create collections for your knickknacks. When grouped together, they look like a tablescape or a vignette of interesting collectibles instead of an explosion of vacation trinkets.

Play with angles: Create unusual furniture placement that maximizes the features of the room. Weirdly placed windows? Put your bed at an angle. It can make the room look bigger even though you lose space.

Textures as an alternative to color: Too many colors can overwhelm a small space and make it feel messy. Instead, use different textures in the same color family: a chunky knit throw with a velvet pillow with a pony-hide chair. A creative mix of textures in an all-gray or all-ivory room will look eclectic instead of boring.

Use transparent and reflective surfaces: Mirrors always create a feeling of space. A glass coffee table will feel light and airy compared with a solid piece in a small room.

Indulge in wild life: Greenery is the best medicine for a space that needs more life. If you're not good with plants, try fresh-cut flowers to lift your mood and the mood in the room.

Little things go a long way: New cabinet hardware in a small kitchen or bath or an inexpensive chandelier can make a difference in personalizing your space.

Let your freak flag fly: Your space is a reflection of you and your sense of humor. Fill it with art and objects you love and that make you laugh. Make your home your happy place.


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