Updates for all CDECA members across Canada.

Living Large in Small Spaces

Helping a client transition from a larger home to a smaller one doesn’t mean that function or style need to suffer.  By following a few simple steps, they too can live large in a small space.


Encourage them to take the time to review what they have and identify items that they haven’t used in a few years.  Repurpose these items by donating them a charity of their choosing.  Display the keepsakes that really mean something.  Present items in a compact fashion, such as on a tray, leaving half of the display surface clear.  Less is more in a small space and featuring key photography, collectibles and art, will allow the space to showcase their favourite items rather than clutter. 


Ensure that storage is a top consideration.  Furniture with storage is a ‘must’ to maximizing space and tucking necessities away.  Beds with under-storage, ottomans and blanket boxes, sideboards or consoles with doors and drawers, are all key pieces for housing items when not in use.  Baskets and crates will also serve as solid accessories to hide articles out of sight and open up negative space.


Use a floor mirror or substantial wall mirror to enlarge the look of a room.  Placed strategically by a window, mirrors will amplify the amount of light and create increased visual space. 


Select glass or clear plastic furniture to keep your space looking open and airy while maintaining function and style.  Paired with low profile furniture, or furniture without arms, rooms will appear larger than they are.

LL 1

‘See Through’. Cathinthecity.com. Cathrine Helenberg. 


Take curtains up to the height of the ceiling.  This will instantly heighten the feel of the room and create a sense of grandeur.  A room will also appear larger by painting the baseboards, walls and ceiling, all in the same colour. Feature floating shelves or wall units so as to keep items off of the floor.


Narrow legs on furniture will provide a lighter look within a room.  Low profile sofas that have just a small leg lifting them off of the ground will also create more circulation of light and create the illusion of more space.

LL 2

‘Carte Blanche’. Leclair Décor.  leclairdecor.com


Light, cool colour palettes work best in small spaces making it essential to introduce texture.  Shiny, glossy materials and finishes, raw woods, knit or fur textiles will all create depth and interest in a small space without crowding it physically.  Colour can certainly be used in a small space, but dark and deep colours will absorb light while texture offers a simple and stylish substitute to create visual interest and stimulate the senses.

Monika Christal GeppertMonika Christal Geppert

Owner/Principal Decorator, Decoblanc

Monika Christal Geppert is the Owner and Principal Decorator at Decoblanc located in Ottawa, Ontario.  A Certified Interior Decorator, Monika is a seasoned Fashion and Décor Professional who specializes in Retail Visual Merchandising and Styling.

Movement Moment: Designing for Small Spaces

Living in the Toronto area, Ive seen my fair share of small spaces.  The condo market is absolutely exploding and, in my opinion, has no sign of slowing down.  People are willing to pay a premium for what seems to be increasingly small spaces.  While it is clear that condo-dwellers have no issue living in a small space, I, as a designer, am continuing to hear that these people are taking issue with the way their small space is laid out.  Form doesnt always follow function these days.

Enter movement.

This simple yet game-changing design concept can bring so much added function to small spaces – yet it is all too often overlooked.  The images seen here were taken at the IDS 2014 and were meant to show how a simple concept of a “jackknife island” (designed by the ever-talented Johnson Chou) can literally double the amount of kitchen workspace available. 

Photo credit: Mike Hetherman

Not only can the island provide more workspace, but a separate extension of the island can also be turned into table space for entertaining.  Tuck everything back into place once your dinner party has wrapped and – voilà! – you have regained a large portion of your living space.

Now relate this concept to other areas of the home and you have a space that maximizes in function without sacrificing ingenuity in design.

Photo credit: Mike Hetherman

While Ive received a lot of feedback from fellow designers about how movement can – and should – be a key player in the future of design, I have yet to see the idea really make traction.  I truly believe this is the number one solution to bringing added function to our increasingly smaller spaces.

Mike Hetherman is the President, owner and CEO of Willis – a distributor of global brands across North America. For over 45 years, Willis has established a strong presence in the building supply and architectural communities with memberships in a variety of industry organizations; this presence is spearheaded by Mike
s active participation in these communities.  As a CKD for 25 years, Mike thoroughly enjoys staying informed on the latest design trends and sharing these insights with the design community.  Mike continues to build Willispresence in the marketplace, speaking at a variety of industry events across North America.

This article originally appeared in the CDECA Newsletter IDEAS - Fall 2016 on Small Spaces. Members can access the full issue by logging in and Going to the Resources section.

Art Wall – Styling Principles

We often get asked for suggestions on mixing art walls, and best determining the size of piece to place. Coco Chanel (the queen of styling principles) is famous for her witty quotes on fashion that very much apply to art.

“You live but once; you might as well be amusing.” ― Coco Chanel

Don’t try to match. Variety is the spice of life and art is no different. The most important gallery wall factor is to showcase a variety of sizes so the look has visual appeal.

Art Wall 1

Photo credit: Wendover Art Group

Consider a combination of subject matter – renaissance paintings to sheet music to abstract, mix it like a good cocktail party! Same with color, have a theme or don’t! A really great look can be a ton of neutrals and then a pop of color to ground the effect. A shot of black is often inspired in a large art installation.

Art Wall 2

Photo credit: Wendover Art Group

Mix the textures – canvas, paper, acrylic,wood – gold, silver, glass, mirror!

Art Wall 3

Photo credit: Wendover Art Group

And don’t forget about frames. Frames help create a unified look. They can be all the same color and shape – or not! Use frames to provide visual continuity while you let the art roam free.

Art Wall 4

Photo credit: Wendover Art Group

The point of an art wall is to showcase several pieces at once. What a great opportunity to marry the old and the new. Your flea market finds can look right at home next to family heirlooms and brand new works of art. What’s most important is that the art speaks to you.

For placement – try laying out the design on a flat surface to start. Work from the biggest pieces to the smallest, using the small pieces to fill in. Spread the larger pieces out rather than bunching them together. Be sure to place the central pieces at eye level and don’t forget to leave room for furniture below or near it!

Know when enough is enough. If it’s starting to look cluttered, it likely is. Often times just a little less is a lot more!

As Coco Chanel said, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” So think outside the box to deliver an installation with impact!

About the Author

IrelandKristin Ireland-Sava

Founder and Principal of Ireland & Co.

22 years experience in marketing furnishings to luxury interior designer all the way to mass merchant programs. The right fit for products and exemplary service are hallmarks of my business. Ireland & Co (www.irelandandcompany.com) Representing Wendover Art Group (www.wendoverart.com)



Design Identity

As decorating professionals, we have a lot of advice to share with our clients. Its our responsibility to apply principles of style in order to achieve interior looks that are balanced and beautiful. We integrate fabric, finishes, and furnishings, and harmonize colour, scale and pattern. We address architectural challenges. We fight uphill battles against stubborn spouses, sticky kids, and shedding pets. Only when we have done all of this, as well as incorporate current trends and maximize the function of the space, can we say we have successfully produced a unified design.

But, the next step, as Picasso once said, is to look even further beyond: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Significant to every interior project is what I call, Design Identity.  Design Identity is the one element of style left open-ended by necessity, simply because its the one we cannot provide, only facilitate. Its the personal style of our client. And it doesnt always follow the rules!

Some clients find it difficult to pinpoint their personal style. This isnt a bad thing, as eclecticism can often be more fun to work with. I find Design Identity can usually be explored via these avenues:  Colour, Collections, and Character


Colour is a major key to your clients Design Identity. A persons colour preferences are inspired by so many variables: memory, travel, emotion. People often seem to fall into one of two categories… what I call “colour introverts” (pastels, greys, and other neutrals) or “colour extroverts” (jewel tones, bold/bright hues, and heavily saturated or dramatic shades.) Colour is an excellent barometer of personality, and when well executed, is not necessarily dependent on trends. There is no commandment saying that small rooms must be painted white, or that white rooms must have an obligatory “pop” of colour. Dont be afraid to bend the rules of Styling Principles to accommodate your clients relationship with colour!


Photo credit: anitafaraboverubies.com


People collect stuff, intentionally or otherwise. Collections – whether antiques, oddities, or art – are very personal, and Design Identity hinges on accessories. When grouped together, or displayed cohesively, collected pieces become an almost singular statement, not to mention providing style inspiration around which the rest of the space can be arranged. Making room for collections sometimes means abandoning certain design doctrines, such as “Less is more,” and embracing the abundance. Surrounding ourselves with the things we love is the best way to ensure happiness with our environment. This is especially true with home interiors.


Photo credit:  countryliving.com


Photo credit:  decoratingfiles.com


Remember the show, Frasier? “Character” is Frasiers fathers tacky, aging recliner smack in the middle of their otherwise impeccably decorated Seattle apartment.



Photo source:  neonduck.net

Its important to determine how our clients use their space, but so is recognizing how they see themselves within it. Some view their home as a sanctuary to escape to at the end of the day. Others see it as a busy gathering place for entertaining friends and family. “Character” is the story people want their house to tell, to both themselves and others. Thats why its a bit abstract, and can be hard to pin down. Its the living history of the home, and the day-to-day presence of those who live there. It is not about perfection and it is rarely magazine-worthy.

Character does not abide by any hard and fast rules of design; you cant create it, you can merely nurture it. But it truly provides the backbone to your clients Design Identity.


Photo source:  drawhome.com

Discovering Design Identity means tailoring style principles to suit the individuality of our clients – and ourselves. Rules are sometimes most helpful when you can either ignore or break them… or bend them to your will! Because above all, decorating is an exercise in personal expression, and capturing the individual spirit, while working to find the balance between form and function.

Dana Ruprecht, Hearth & Gable Interiors

Dana Ruprecht is an Interiors Consultant, blogger, and photographer at Hearth & Gable InteriorsDesign Identity




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