IDS10: Think Designing A Small Space Is Tough? Try 88 Sq Ft

Interior designer Mimi Pineau, who created one of the 5 Small Rooms at the 2010 Interior Design Show, shares her advice on making the most of a small space.

Small spaces can be beautiful, and nowhere was that more evident than at the 5 Small Rooms exhibit at this year’s Interior Design Show in Toronto.

“It’s amazing what you can fit into 88 square feet of structure with a little bit of planning and a little bit of foresight,” interior designer Mimi Pineau tells

Pineau, who owns her own interior design firm in Toronto, was one of five designers invited to transform a shed into a small room at the show.  And though she managed to fit a davenport-style sofa, wine fridge, serving area, stools, shelving, and even a small vessel sink into the space, it doesn’t feel the least bit cramped.

“Well it was conceived as the ultimately practical compact small space, incorporating a lot of luxurious details,” Pineau explains. “There’s a beautiful sofa that opens up into a bed, there are beautiful cushions and Roman blinds and with all of that there’s a sleek little kitchen area with a wine fridge and an espresso machine. So it’s really got all the bells and whistles, but very relaxing and very comfortable.”

The designer, who’s been featured on HGTV’s Home To Go and This Small Space, reveals that it was challenging in that there wasn’t a real client to confer with on this project. So she went with her own personal taste.

“We used a soft palette of grey and ivory, and very restful sort of grey-blue, and mixed that up with some sleek textures and also some of the great elements that naturally come with a shed like this,” she notes.

Living stylishly in a small space needn’t be difficult, Pineau says. But the key is to figure out what you want your focus to be in that space and how you’re primarily going to use it.

“Do you cook a lot? Do you entertain a lot? Decide what your most important goals are for the space, and then really plan it out so you maximize what’s going on,” she advises. “If you have questions I think it’s a great idea to hire an interior designer, either for a consultation or a for a longer term to help you realize how to fit everything that you want into that small space.”

Furniture with built-in storage can be a condo dweller’s best friend, Pineau adds.

“I think a lot of thought has to go into good-looking storage, so concealing those items you don’t want to see — all the paper and all the stuff that goes with everyday life,” she says. “Choosing beautiful pieces that work very hard for you.”

Another tip? Don’t forget to de-clutter once in a while. Whether that means donating old books to the library or selling pieces that no longer work in your space.

“I think it’s wise, especially in a small space, to go through your possessions periodically and decide what’s really valuable to you, what you want to keep, and to be realistic about your space. And about your habits as well – don’t fight your habits. If you tend to throw your stuff by the front door then put a nice little hook there or a great shoe rack,” she suggests.

“There are certain very important elements in terms of a small space – even if they are small they can be well-proportioned to the space. A great sofa. If you’re looking at storage elements it’s important to keep in mind the scale of them, not get pieces that are too big. Keep them on the smaller side but make sure they function properly – good drawers, hidden storage – and that they fit within the style of the space.”

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