Seattle Times, January '23
January 13, 2023
Do more with less: Space-saving techniques to make the most of limited space
By: Erica Browne Grivas
Embrace your space
"Many of Seattle’s older homes are especially space-challenged.
“In Seattle where we have limited space, typically most of the homes that the Phinery designs are somewhat compartmentalized. The lots are only so big,” says designer Becky Ducsik, owner of The Phinery in Phinney Ridge. “If there are opportunities to make a room work as hard as it can to provide all the functions a homeowner needs, we do that all the time.”
To finesse your square footage, first assess the uses and activities you’d like to add to your space — do you need storage? Play space? A homework center? An office or workout space? Maybe a guest bed? Consider these tips from expert designers on how to think creatively, using the right pieces and transforming underused spots.
Be realistic with your goals and prioritize the function you’ll primarily use the space for, says designer Hayley Francis of Neon Doves. If you are using the space as an office daily and have guests once a year, how big does the bed need to be? “You want to adhere to the most important functionality,” says Francis.
This comes into play in entertainment spaces particularly, Francis says. Dreaming of bustling parties, people buy dining or living room furniture to seat 8-10 people, when the room’s dimensions suggest six people max. A better solution, she says, is to create a room that is comfortable during its day-to-day life and can stretch a bit for parties.
Movable pieces like poufs, stackable or folding chairs and low-profile benches pitch in as extra seating when needed.
When designing multiple rooms, Ducsik selects bedroom or entry benches that coordinate with the dining table, creating a seamless look throughout the house.
For an office with multiple jobs, Ducsik has several tools in her arsenal. She loves a daybed in an office. Styled as a couch with throw pillows and blankets and artwork behind, it makes a Zoom-friendly backdrop. Propped higher than a couch, the floor clearance allows for a trundle bed with another mattress or stowing workout equipment.
Murphy beds take up greater floor space than a daybed, sometimes requiring playing Jenga with the furniture to open them, and must be built in. They work best if you have a spacious room or are building a new one, says Ducsik. Sleeper sofas are a less costly option, designer Kirsten Conner says. She swears they are more comfortable these days, too.
Ducsik recommends a frame TV opposite the daybed — it presents as art when not in use or streaming at-home workouts.
No dedicated office? Carve out workspace in unsuspecting places. Add a desk to a closet or under the stairs. Hang a foldout shelf (at desk height) on the wall. Place a chair next to a 20” deep console table. If all you need is a laptop, a portable C table can go anywhere.
Parents often want to create a space that welcomes the whole family without looking like a preschool.
For one client, Francis designed a play space in the dining room. Folded up compactly most days, the table’s flat leaves fold out in a snap for dining by sliding over two extra chairs. These drop-leaf tables can also act as a wall console when closed.
Ducsik recommends puzzles, sketchpads and games for public play spaces because they stack easily. Outsized toys can live in the kids’ room. She loves cabinets with baskets to corral the kid stuff and says, “Every family should have a storage ottoman,” or at least a low, scratch-proof coffee table with rounded edges."
Read the full Seattle Times article.