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7 ways to make the most of your space

Understanding minimalist design can help you live (comfortably) with whatever space you have.

Minimalist interior design reflects the concern people have for the environment and the digital landscape, as it continues to eliminate the need for many physical products, like CDs and DVDs.

So if you're inspired by your recent trip to IKEA—or just an empty nester moving into a smaller home—here are some tips for how to reap the benefits of minimalist interior design.

1. Declutter

The best way to start with minimalist interior design is to audit your living space. Consider your bookshelves and the corners of each room. Do you really need all those books, or that pile of junk mail?

Reducing clutter is the least expensive way to open up a room, and research shows that it can help with focus, creativity and even sleep.

2. Go vertical

Take advantage of the underused space between the top of your furniture and the ceiling. Is there space for a shelf above cabinets or doors?

Consider installing cabinets flush with the ceiling for a better flow and longer sight lines between rooms. And if you have a garage, installing overhead racks can be a great way to create new storage space.

3. Hide in plain sight

When you're not using something, put it away. Hidden storage is worth the investment, whether it's lidded boxes and baskets, or furniture with built-in compartments.

Keep toys, crafts and other odds and ends in baskets and jars on open shelves—accessible but organized.

4. Choose multipurpose furniture

For furniture to earn a spot in your home, it should deliver clear benefits. Aside from getting rid of furniture that's not being used or helping the aesthetics, think about how a single piece could serve several purposes.

Maybe it's a desk by day and dining table by night. A small wall mirror can serve as a vanity instead of a bulky medicine cabinet.

5. Leverage color theory

Use color to trick your brain into thinking your space is larger than it is.

Lighter-colored walls can make the room feel larger. Lucite furniture can enrich style without adding visual weight. Striped rugs can make floors look longer. Mirrors to reflect light can brighten a room. A painted ceiling can draw the eye upward.

6. Create sections

Use rugs or dividers to compartmentalize a room. They help create the appearance of having more than one space in a larger area—such as in a studio apartment.

For example, bring an open-backed bookcase out from the wall so it serves as a divider between spaces.

7. Use full-size furniture

Yes, you read correctly. In minimalist interior design, larger pieces have an important role. It may seem counterintuitive, but small furnishings can actually make a room look smaller.

Larger pieces also help hide clutter like wires and a cable box. Even when it comes to accent pieces, a general rule is to remove anything smaller than a cantaloupe.

Keep it up. You're getting smarter about home buying.

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