Living Large in Small Spaces

by Barbara Schwab

One way to living large in small spaces, is to scale down the size of the furniture.

One of the things George and I have discovered living in our small bungalow after having lived in a large 3 story townhouse is that the proportions of the furniture to the size of the room is paramount, we have found the scale of mid century modern and Danish modern furniture to be a perfect fit for a small space.

Why does mid century modern and Danish modern decor work so well in small spaces?

  • The compact scale and elegant well proportioned lines of chairs, tables, sofas, etc. makes rooms seem much bigger than they really are. One of the first mid century pieces I fell in love with is designed by Finn Juhl, the #138 chair (pictured above). The comfort is big, the footprint is small.

  • Many modern furniture pieces have clean lines that help to keep your space looking more open. They sit lightly on the floor with finely shaped legs giving the visual effect of the floor flowing through the room, creating the illusion of a bigger space.

  • The use of glass for table tops, dining and coffee tables trick the eye into seeing less mass and therefore more space. Adrian Pearsall is a master designer using this formula.

    Living Large in Small Spaces with Adrian Pearsall coffee table and Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair

  • Mid century modern designers were masters at creating peices that fold out to make them larger or fold up to store work perfectly for small living spaces. You can switch it up when you need more surfaces and less floor space and fold it up when you need the reverse.

  • Too much furniture will make your room look like it is too small to hold everything. Simplify the number of pieces. You want to make a balance between the space and the size of the room. Often in really big houses you see the opposite – rooms that look empty because of the spread out arrangement of the furniture pieces.

  • Creating areas is also a technique for making spaces seem larger. A side table next to a lounge chair with a nice lamp becomes a small reading area in the corner. Danish modern side tables by Grete Jalk and Peter Hvidt have shelves underneath for a few book and magazines.

Danish modern secretary with Jørgen Bækmark arm chair  and stool create a reading and work area in the bedroom.

Every thing does not need to match. Variety in a room makes for interest, warmth and some fun. (I do not have all mid century modern furniture in every room.) Mix it up a little, pick out pieces because you like them and not just because it’s fits a style. I like mixing in Kalim rugs with prints to create areas and to introduce a colorful element. The use of area rugs also contributes to creating interesting spaces in a room.