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Getting the Best Out of Small Spaces

Overcoming a lack of space is one of the biggest challenges in decorating. With strategic design, even a modest room can look amazing. The secret lies in thoughtful organization of space and a creative flair.

Small living rooms should be well planned and well provisioned. This is especially true in cottages, where the living room is the heart and quite often nearly all there is of the house. The space must be adaptable enough for just about anything, from dining and entertaining to working or watching television.

The shape of a room generally determines its best arrangement. To zone a small living room, you can arrange seating at one end (where family and friends can linger and talk) and a multifunctional table at the other end.

Use walls and corners to do the hard work, employing adjustable shelving units to stash TVs, stereos, books and tableware. Link the areas together with plenty of seating that can be moved from one place to another. You can also increase apparent space in a room by leaving windows bare and painting the walls and ceiling the same colour.

You don't have to choose between function and decor, even in a small space. Farm benches can be stacked for ad hoc shelving and taken apart if extra seating is needed. Chests can serve as coffee or side tables and can double as storage containers, keeping the space neat.

Good organization always adds to a room's appeal, but the difference between orderly and spare can be an artful balance in a tight space. Fill even a small room with useful accessories. Possessions on display and rich colours around them can turn a small room into a little gem.