Welcome to The Shoebox, Refinery29's small space advice column. With the help of Homepolish interior designer Emma Beryl, we'll tackle all your cramped living woes — from where to store your stuff to how to make 500 square feet feel as open and unique as you are.
Question: I don’t have a kitchen pantry, what do I do?
Emma's Response: I always tell my clients that if they have a dining room in their NYC apartments then they've officially "made it." I think if you have a full sized pantry you can consider yourself in that category as well. Luckily, for us civilians there are so many creative and affordable solutions for accommodating kitchen items in a pantry-less space.
First, maximize your cabinets to hide the not-so-pretty stuff by adding pull out trays and stackable trays to use every inch of your hidden space. Food staples, aluminum foil, extra paper towels etc should all be hidden away to avoid visual clutter. Re-think your coat closet — maybe you really don’t need all that space for clothing and some of it could be better used as a pantry. If you're not constantly using your oven you can store pots and pans in there too (just make sure to remember to take them out before you turn the oven on)! I love to install floating shelves in a kitchen and use beautiful jars to organize flour, sugar, oats, etc. Get yourself a label maker and go to town.
A small shelf bookcase can easily hold dishware, glassware and beautiful cookbooks. The one consideration here is that any dishes or glasses left out will get dusty. Make sure that anything you are keeping out of a closed cabinet is organized and clean looking. Neutral colors and matching sets will go a long way in making your exposed storage feel minimal and pulled together. Organize like-with-like (glasses with glasses, plates with plates, etc.) so that everything you are displaying feels cohesive, curated, and purposeful.
Question: Do mirrors actually make spaces feel bigger? If so, is there a strategy to making this trick work?
Emma's Response: Have you ever walked into a restaurant thinking there’s another room towards the back but it’s actually just a reflection of the room that you're in? That's the mirror trick working to make your eye think that a space is twice as large as it actually is.
There are a few ways to maximize the effects of the mirror trick. First, find a focal point and angle your mirror in that direction to create the illusion of depth. It's important to consider what the mirror is reflecting, point it towards something you want to see two of.
You can also place your mirror near a window to reflect the natural light or place it near a chandelier/statement light fixture to reflect the artificial light for a more formal look. Reflecting light will make a space feel brighter which in turn makes it feel airier and larger.
Don’t be afraid to go large with the mirror you select, the larger the mirror the larger the reflection which is what makes the space appear bigger. Finally, remember to hang up your mirror at eye level to maximize the visibility of the reflection.
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