Christine Brun’s book Small Space Living focuses on design solutions and downsizing.
5 Tricks for Small Spaces
If your new place is smaller than you like, you can make it feel larger by using Christine Brun's design tricks:
1. Use wood blinds rather than heavy curtains.
2. Select dual-purpose furniture.
3. Install wall-mounted shelves.
4. Paint with lighter colors.
5. Make lighting a priority.
Downsizing and Empty Nesting with Style
Small space expert Christine Brun's advice on how to create a new home by cleaning out.
- by Jack M. Tiernan
Downsizing is sometimes necessary, but it doesn't have to be something to dread. Whether you're scaling back due to changes in your family's finances or you just want to make better use of space in your empty nest, the downsizing process can liberate you from junk and clutter. And it may open up a multitude of design possibilities in your home.
Think Before You Toss
Know what you’re doing before you do it. For example, a move from a single-family home to an apartment will present different problems than those of just cleaning out your home. Take your time to avoid regret, says Christine Brun, owner of San Diego-based interior design firm Christine Brun & Associates. Think carefully about what to keep and what to toss—some items you may not be able to replace.
Store Until You're Settled
Consider renting a storage unit. If your move has to be quick, temporary storage can save you the trouble of moving heavy, unnecessary items several times before you settle in. Larger items may be loaned to a friend on a semi-permanent basis. Let the ping-pong table eat up someone else’s basement corner.
Here are some pointers to help you make the most of your sorting efforts:
- Don’t get overwhelmed. Start small with one drawer or one closet.
- Separate out your family photos and keepsakes. Stackable plastic boxes are a good organization and storage solution.
- Hang on to original artwork and items not easily replaced.
- Slim down your kitchen. You don’t need three casserole dishes. Sell or donate the extras.
- Throw out old linens and worn towels.
- Your wardrobe can always be reduced. Be realistic. Are you really going to fit into those jeans again? If you haven’t worn it in the last six months, it may be time for a new home.
Your New Place
When it’s time to set up, keep it simple. Whether you have a new smaller home or one you’ve cleaned out; you can beautify it without clutter. Here are some tips for streamlined design:
- Lose heavy window treatments. They eat up wall space. Brun recommends wood blinds or pleated cellular shades instead.
- Consider dual-purpose furniture. Pieces such as ottomans and coffee tables with built-in storage space are multifunctional. Triangular pieces can easily fit into a corner so that they’re out of the way when you don’t need them.
- Go vertical. Wall-mounted shelves and cabinets provide extra storage without eating up floor space.
- Paint with lighter colors. It’s an inexpensive improvement, and light colors can make rooms seem larger.
- Lighten up. Dark rooms are less inviting, says Brun. She suggests tabletop lamps and standing lamps. “Sit a tiny up-light in a plant container and shine light up through the leaves and onto the ceiling.”
- Shine on. Adding inexpensive string lights to a deck or balcony will draw your eye beyond the room and make the space feel more open.