Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

March 24, 2011

Small Space Suggestions: Furniture Scale

Someone (let's call her Susie O) wants to cancel her subscription to the interior design magazine she receives monthly.  Susie O is tired of design magazines featuring huge homes, sometimes even in "small space" specials. 

"A 20 foot long kitchen island?!?" she exclaimed one day. 
[Expletives omitted]
"So?" said I.
"My house isn't even 20 feet wide!!" Said she.
[More expletives, followed by some muttering, omitted]

Thinking this was hyperbole (twenty feet seems awfully motor home small), I asked Hubby to measure the width of the townhouse during commercial breaks of Hawaii Five-O.  And wouldn't you know?  Our house is 20 feet wide - exactly.  Seems Susie O is right: a 20 foot island is ridiculous for her & I.  Why bore you with the details of how wide the townhouse is?  I think the townhouse is officially a "small space".  You won't find a post about my 20 foot island or giant sectional sofa.  Instead, this post marks the first in my "Small Space Suggestions" section.  I'll tell you about some "Small Space Rules," how I follow them & when to break them.

First issue: furniture scale.  Style at Home Magazine advises small space owners not to buy shrimpy furniture.  Instead, buy full scale furniture and simply scale back on the number of pieces:

Style at Home: Tania Sarracini's Home

That's a good suggestion, that I tend to follow. 

In the dining room, we have just a normal sized table and chairs (and currently a canvas - who knows when I'll get around to moving it - three days and counting). 

In the bedroom we have just nightstands, a headboard and small chest.  No dresser or armoire - we try to keep all of our clothes in the closet (shoes, purses & coats do live elsewhere).  But the bed is a King Size and the headboard, in person, is quite large and even more dramatic than in photos.  We went full size with the furniture - we just have fewer pieces.

Have you ever even seen this angle?

So, we do tend to pick full sized items, but sometimes we can't just go without.  Sometimes dropping a piece of furniture from the floor plan isn't an option.  Take for example the two chairs facing the fireplace (I move them seasonally).  I really needed a table to put a cup of tea on, but a full sized table pushed the chairs too far into the room.  So, I found this adorable little handmade, vintage stool the other day (at a flea market) and I re-purposed it as a table:

Yes, I am searching for a gorgeous pair of vintage teak chairs to replace this pair.
These chairs may of may not have been purchased at a grocery store.

So, although we follow the common advice: don't buy teeny furniture, sometimes we just HAVE to mix in a few smaller scale pieces so the furniture works for us.  


  1. "The kitchen island's varied levels and quartz countertop that appears to hover above the cabinetry prevent the 22'-long unit from appearing oversized." Ha ha. Well my house is exactly 22' deep! If I knock down the wall between my kitchen and living room I can have this island in my home. Unfortunately there would be no space to walk around it so everyone would have to vault or roll over it like Jack Bauer (remember you can't crawl under because of the cabinetry). Hmmmmmmmm. Sorry, can't stop fuming.

  2. You crack me up. Hey, now I've gotten you to comment TWICE.

  3. Well said!! I lived in a 500 sq ft apartment when I lived in NYC, and there really isn't enough info out there for people with small spaces! Great blog.

  4. Have you checked out ebay for teak chairs? I searched for danish modern the other day and found a pleathora of teak pieces that just needed a little love.

  5. Hahahaaa, I love this. Yes, we need more realistic styling ideas....for spaces slightly smaller than the TITANIC.
    Good luck with the chair hunt!

  6. 500 sq feet?!? Now I'm embarassed to even reveal my square footage. Perhaps Kendall should take over this section . . . :)

    Thanks for the suggestion, Amy - I have looked but the shipping always kills me. I'm also looking for a bargain and with yard sale season around the corner I'm holding out . . .

  7. Nice place and I absolutely love that headboard on your bed! Thank so much for linking me. I've linked ya back. :)

  8. I have been checking out a few of your article stories and I must say pretty clever stuff. I will definitely bookmark your blog. Thank you very much.

  9. Hey look! I'm cool enough to get random, spammy comments from products posing as people. I'm keepin' them - this is momentous. Mmmm, love how vague they are.

  10. I have only lived in small places and I'm so glad to finally see some small space ideas! Your bedroom is gorgeous!



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