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5 Expert tips for Designing Small Spaces

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Small Spaces
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Ready for some great news? Buying furniture and designing your small spaces is now easier than ever! More and more people are embracing apartment living. The home decor industry has answered our cries with so many great ideas to help you with designing small spaces.

Here are our 5 expert tips for designing small spaces in your home:

Tip #1: Extendable Dining Tables

 

Formal dining rooms are not as popular anymore, especially in smaller homes. But it’s also hard to host a larger dinner party in an apartment around a 4 person table. This is why we recommend extendable dining tables so you can keep it small for everyday use, and extend it for the company.

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a new concept. It’s been around for ages, but it’s still worth mentioning because they’ve made some significant design upgrades to make them much more convenient and functional. 

You may have remembered digging around in closets and under the bed for those heavy wood “leafs” to extend your dining room table. Somehow we always left it to the last minute (or was that just us)? Today, dining tables come with convenient leaf storage under the table. Now you always know, assuming you put it away properly, where that leaf is. 

Tip #2: Versatile Chairs

When designing small spaces, you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. This is why we recommend choosing chairs that can be used at the dining table, your desk, and even as extra seating in the living room. This way you can easily move your chairs around where you need them. 

We also recommend when choosing chairs for smaller spaces, to choose ones with lower backs. This will keep them from taking up too much visual space in your room.

The style and design of the chair are also important when you plan to repurpose your chairs around your home. Choose a more natural design so it fits easily with any room decor. Also, if you plan to move them frequently, avoid ones that are too bulky or heavy as they’ll be a pain in your back, literally, to move around. Keep in mind that even if a chair looks trendy in the showroom or in the magazine, it doesn’t mean it’s a great option for your home. 

Remember, chairs don’t have to be huge to be comfortable.

Tip #3: Side Tables

Even in small spaces you’re gonna want somewhere to put your drink down or place a snack bowl or a good book (if you can put a good book down). When designing small spaces, consider where people would put their drink down when they sit and make sure there is a suitable side table for each seat. 

A small coffee table in the middle of a family room can provide a good spot for beverages, but also consider adding smaller narrow side tables next to chairs where it isn’t as easy to put a drink down. If you are tight on space, consider nesting side tables so you can store them when you don’t have extra company over.

Tip #4: Let in the Light!

 

You can easily and inexpensively make your small rooms look much bigger with a few lighting tricks. 

  • Open the blinds: Brighter spaces help make a room feel so much bigger and come with so many added health benefits. Natural light is known to increase endorphins and serotonin and help to balance your hormones. When you get enough natural light during the day you are more likely to sleep better at night. We also know that the sun boosts your energy too so open those curtains and let in the light!
  • Paint it light: When painting your small spaces, consider using lighter paint colours. Dark colours will make a room appear smaller. If you are compelled to paint a darker more bold colour, consider doing it as an accent wall instead. 
  • Add functional lighting: Consider how you will be using each area of the room. If it’s an area you will be working at a computer or reading a book, consider a smaller reading lamp on the table or attached to the wall. If it’s an area you simply pass through (like a hallway or foyer) look for more general lighting options like pot lights and lamps to light the space. In the bathrooms, you’ll want lighting directed over the sink and counter area most. 

Hang a mirror: A large mirror in the room bounces the light around better, making your space appear larger. Also, the right mirror can make the room look 2x as big as you see a “second” room in the reflection. 

Tip #5: Sneaky Storage

Storage is often one of the biggest struggles our clients in smaller homes and apartments have. To avoid cluttered rooms, we need storage options. But when your room is small, we can’t always put in big bulky storage cabinets (they become an eyesore).Instead, we suggest looking for sneaky ways to store your stuff out of sight. For example, some furniture comes with hidden storage. It’s common to find beds and sofas with large storage spaces underneath. Also, look for storage that can be hung on a wall or behind a door. Over-the-door hangers are great for shoes and closet items. Floating side tables affixed to the walls (ie without feet touching the ground) also help make the room feel less cluttered while still providing a functional space to store belongings.

What if your space already has great storage closets? You can maximize these spaces by investing in a closet storage system or clear bins that can be stacked to maximize your space and control clutter and mess.

What’s next for your home?

Source: Good Space Plans Online Seymour Street

There are so many products and design secrets you can use to make any small space more functional and feel larger. Above all the tips, it’s important to practice mindfulness about what you are bringing into your home. We know how exciting it can be to walk through a furniture store or flip through the latest seasonal catalogue. You may feel compelled to buy up the whole store, without thinking of how it will actually work or be used in your home.

Before you buy a piece of furniture:

  • Make sure it’s something that will physically fit in your home (measure and measure again to be sure)
  • Consider its style with the rest of the theme in your home (you probably don’t want your home to look like a mismatched thrift store)
  • Is it something that will be used often, and if not, can it be folded away or stored easily (think the dining tables and nesting side tables), and 
  • Is it something that’s comfortable to use. If it’s not comfortable to sit on or use as intended it will end up going unused and wasting precious space.

Of course, having a professional interior designer help you with this is the best idea! An interior designer will work with you, taking your ideas and making them real by creating a plan for you. 

If you want to start designing your plan right now, check out the custom designing small space packages we have for you.

Good Space Interior Design Travels the Sunshine Coast

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picture by vancouver online interior designer of sunset on sunshine coastI love spending time on the Sunshine Coast. We’re lucky to live in a province with so much natural beauty and space. I’m in constant awe and inspiration when I’m there. The freshness in the air, the endless expanse of the coast, the silence. All these things help inspire my interior design firm when I come back to the bustling city. 

My partner’s family has a cabin there. I have had the opportunity to go up every year for the past 6 years. We try to make it our annual routine to get out; each time I do, I explore something new. As an interior design firm owner I love exploring all the distinctive shops and restaurants as well as other natural sights. Check out our top 5 favourite things to do on the sunshine coast below.

beautiful interior designed sushi bar on sunshine coast

Courtesy of Sushi Bar Nagomi

1. Grab sushi at Sushi Bar Nagomi

This is the sweetest little sushi bar in Gibsons, with a fabulous layout and exceptional sushi. Being right on the coast makes sure that everything is fresh and all made in house. The owners are so lovely as well. The name, Nagomi 和味 has 2 meanings: The Japanese Kanji letters stand for authentic taste and its pronunciation means cozy and peaceful. This fits this sushi bar perfectly! Not to mention the interior design is stunning and so comfortable. 

Courtesy of Sunshine Coast Olive OIl

2. Stock up on olive oils at Sunshine Coast Olive Oil

A local favourite in Gibsons, this store has some of the most beautiful kinds of vinegar and oils ever. They let you sample everything and they offer so many fantastic recipes. My favourite would have to be the Lime Olive Oil and the face cream they make is heavenly. If you can’t make the trip, they also order online and do a wonderful job of shipping it safely to you. 

3. Next stop, the Elfinstone Rock and Gem shop in Roberts Creek.

I love this shop. They have some of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry and stones all made from local stones and gems. They also have a massive geode on display that gets used for festivals. It is so large the owner mentioned that it damaged an axel of the vehicle just transporting it! They also have crystal bowls and metal drums for you to try out. I highly recommend checking them out. 

 

4. Next, Sunshine Coast Wood Expo

We try to time our trips in September so we can all go to the Sunshine Coast Wood Expo in Sechelt. This is always the highlight of our trip. The artists every year just keep getting better and better. There is so much variety and beauty in everything that is created. My favourite part is hearing how each artist collects and gathers the wood they use in a sustainable way. They have some fantastic stories. If you can make it to the coast in September, you should make a trip to Sechelt for the wood Expo.

5. Finish up at Sunstone Gems & Jewelry shop in Sechelt

My recent passion has been making beaded stone bracelets and necklaces. This year I came across the Sunstone Gems & Jewelry shop in Sechelt. This store had some of the most well-curated beads and stones I have seen. Their price point is fantastic and you will leave with some beautiful pieces. 

Conclusion:

I believe that as city dwellers it’s important to take time away from the hustle and bustle and center yourself in nature’s bliss. The people of the sunshine coast are kind and steady people who have a deep sense of community with each other. It’s these qualities that I try to bring to our wonderful clients of Good Space Plans Online. If you would like to read more about enjoying nature in style, check out our glamping blog here

A Design filled day in Hudson Yards, NYC.

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AhhNew York City…“The city that never sleeps”. This may sound like a cliché, but it’s true. There’s always something to do, see, or eat at all times of the day! After four days in this bustling city, I did feel a tad exhausted, but also completely in love with this dazzling place. Hudson Yards especially. 

For any design lovers checking out the city, I strongly suggest spending a day in Hudson Yards and make sure to check out the following:

The Vessel

new-york-the-vesselHead down to Hudson Yards and check out the new Vessel, an interactive building that is intended to be climbed. It’s a feat of impressive engineering. Staircases circle around a centre point allowing one to climb to the top and offers remarkable views of the city. Make sure to bring your walking shoes.

Mercado Little Spain

little-spain-market-place
After all that climbing, it’s time to hydrate and grab a quick snack for both your eyes and taste buds. Down below in a beautifully designed Spanish market, full of the freshest Spanish treats.  Here you can find bars, restaurants and unique kiosks in both design and taste! Churros, ice cream, hams, cheeses from all around the world. You can find it all. Yum!
market-space-little-spain-new-york

Highland Park

high-land-park-new-york
After you grabbed a bite to eat, take a walk down highland park and keep your eyes peeled for all the beautiful architecture that surrounds the city. The path stretches from Hudson Yards to the Whitney Museum in the south. It is a beautiful 2.5km walk with stunning views of the city! The path used to be a train rack and has been converted to a beautifully maintained garden and walking path.
Tip: Try to go when it’s not too sunny as this path is loved by all
With NYC being beautiful all times of the year and having so much design inspiration to offer, it’s good to find one place chock-full of design goodies. I highly recommend Hudson Yards as a go-to for all your design inspiration. It’s a shame that I couldn’t squeeze every bit of New York in four days, but this weekend has just made me more enthused for my next trip back. 

Your Guide to Comfortable Camping

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Experience Camping In Comfort With Our Must-Have Essentials.

That feeling of waking up to the freshest of air all around me. The sounds of the forest slowly pulling me out of a deep sleep. Slowly and quietly climbing down my tent ladder while my partner Fraz is still fast asleep. I slip into my sandals and my favourite Tilley hat to head down to the lake. There is this one moment standing on the edge of the slowly lapping water… where everything stands still and there is peace. No work stress, no phone service, no commitments, just the beauty of nature.

Camping is truly my happy place for me to unwind and get grounded. It’s my home away from home. It took some time to create that level of home comfort with my camping gear. These are a few things that have become my must haves for camping in comfort.

Some Comfort – $

Comfortable Camping Hat
  • Tilley Hat: This is my favourite item camping. It is made in Canada, it has a lifetime warranty and it is so functional. It’s waterproof, UV protected and the best hat to have summer naps under… ever. I strongly encourage you to join the Tilley club.
  • Luci Solar Lights – This is such a durable solar powered lantern. It is light, takes up next to no space and they FLOAT! Not to mention they make a color changing one for your next camping party.
  • Brewmate Beer Cozy – I love a cold beverage while I’m camping and this cozy definitely keeps a drink chilled for a very long time. It takes both tall and short cans and doubles as a thermos for coffee. They come in so many finishes that it is hard to choose just one.

More Comfort – $$

Comfortable Camping Mosquito Net
  • Camping chair – Having a good chair is key to camping. I don’t have a particular one I love because I have accumulated quite a few over the years. My top requirements for a good camping chair include a large seat to curl up in and a high back to rest my head on.
  • Pop up mosquito tent: For me this is an absolute must when you are deep in the bush. I love being in nature but I don’t love being eaten alive. This Coleman one is durable and super easy to take down & set up.
  • Camping BBQ: I love this trusty Coleman travel BBQ. It gets super hot, has some great add-ons to buy, and is super easy to pack around. I have made so many delicious camping meals on mine!

Luxury Comfort – $$$

Comfortable Camping Tent
  • Down Bedding: Now if you know me I am a bit of a princess when it comes to bedding. I love down bedding so I had to buy myself a full camping set from my favourite Canadian supplier, Dreammakers. I also love that the down bedding fits in my vacuum storage bags so well.
  • Tepui Tent: This was my biggest camp purchase last year. We fell in love with these roof top tents when we found this fantastic local outdoor store called Overland Outfitters. I love that store and the owners are next level amazing people. This has changed my camping experience 100% for the better. I feel so safe being up high. The mattress is very comfortable, easy to set up and take down and is great in any weather. Overland Outfitters even offers rentals, including a rack system for your vehicle, in case you are hesitant to buy one…just yet.

Being at home is so soothing for me. Home is safe, comfortable and soul filling. To create that same feeling in nature is such a treat, which is why I’ve made I have managed to create that feeling in nature with all these camping comforts. Now get outside and enjoy nature. It’s calling for you.

The Heartbreak of Homelessness & the Covenant House Sleep Out

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The heartbreak of homelessness is real.

It is even more heart breaking when homelessness is experienced as a young person. I had a short time in my early teens as a runaway kid without a home. I had no name for it then, or awareness of how risky my situation was, but I know how lonely, lost and forsaken I felt. This changed me and many years later without a conscious awareness of the “why”, made me fall in love with Covenant House and the work they do. It was while listening to youth sharing their stories that…

I realized I had been“homeless”. If you are curious to know the definition homelessness read this.

Covenant House provides what I consider to be exactly what is needed for young humans, actually all humans, who find themselves lost in their pain and aloneness, without a place to turn to for safety, comfort and guidance. These are things home and community are supposed to provide. These are fundamental human needs denied to so many people and so many young people.  It is utterly crushing to the human spirit to be without these basic things. 

The one constant thread that runs through all homeless and at-risk youth is that they have experienced childhood trauma. This trauma is compounded.

The more trauma the more damage done. We may have opinions about the cause. We may play the social and family blame game, which may make us feel righteous and smart, but it doesn’t heal or help the situation at all. This Ted talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris gives stunning insight into childhood trauma and the health and social impact of that trauma. This is a hurt ultimately experienced by the collective whether we are individually conscious of it or not.

These traumas happened in the tender formative years of childhood. When innocence is the essence of being and it was by no fault of their own.

Although shame may tell us otherwise, we know in our hearts that trauma that happened to us in childhood is not our fault. We carry the pain and damage and then pass it along in the relay race of life. This used to be a life sentence, but  it doesn’t have to be. Modern brain science has given us so many new tools to change this relay race into generational healing.
 

How Covenant House does it:

The  outreach teams working on the streets meet the youth where they are. Among other things they let them know about Covenant House. Once youth arrive, they get immediate care, respite, food and shelter. They have an opportunity to explore options for themselves. Youth are guided by consistent interaction with the same social worker each time they reach out. The youth are empowered to develop a life plan, set goals and determine the actions & support required to reach their goals. They are lovingly held accountable, learning boundaries and self-care. They get mentorship and the Rights of Passage program that guides them into independent living and self-sufficiency, the good kind of self-sufficiency that includes community.

Covenant House is 95% privately funded. This allows them to offer consistent programming without having to adjust to political whims and changes. This freedom of consistency is a powerful and vital part of their work.

 

Most of us live plentiful  lives, we have shelter, we have food, we have family/community, we have enough. I believe that until we all have these things, until we all have enough, then none of us are whole. We suffer as a collective and we heal the same way. Covenant House gives me hope. This is why I support them! By donating and helping to raise awareness and compassion for the important work done by the loving team at Covenant House. They do the work of creating safe space for young humans to find themselves and discover their inherent worth and value. 

On May 30thwe will be sleeping out in an alley for one night to show our solidarity and raise funds and awareness for at risk and homeless youth. I hope you will join us by supporting us in the Mothers or Daughters Sleep Out 2019. Donate here. Right now any donation made will be matched by Alex G. Tsakumis, CEO of Trigate Properties Group and a generous supporter of Covenant House Vancouver.