Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Smarts - Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces

by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan is the co-founder of the popular website Apartment Therapy. I love his design website and I loved his book! The Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces reads exactly as the title describes - all 305 pages are filled with photos of legitimate small spaces. Finally a book that speaks my language!

Gillingham-Ryan points out what I believe to be very true. Size contraints in a home end up unlocking your inner creativity and allow you to focus on what items are most important for living. It's all about finding creative ways to store all of your belongings (like shoes!), while purging items that are not really necessary (like all those bags you have been collecting and insisting that you will use again one day...).  40 small spaces are featured along with hundreds of inventive solutions for creating more space in your home, and for making it more comfortable.

The book is divided into seven different sections (but you can start anywhere and not miss a thing!)
1.  Quick Entrances
2.  Cozy Kitchens and Dining Rooms
3.  Compact Living Rooms
4.  Miniature Bedrooms
5.  Smart Home Offices
6.  Petite Children's Rooms
7.  Resources, Lists, etc.

Here are some of my favourite shots!

I love a long, low sofa in the living room.  The bold colors and patterns of the pillows look great with the neutral tones.  The side table is actually a stool that was cut to work with the height of the sofa.  So smart!
So much colour!  The side table beside the couch was made from a stool cut down to size!

This living room's space is small but the neutral palette and furniture placement prevent it from feeling overwhelming.  The pattern on the rug is great.
The neutral pallet and placement of the furniture make this small living room feel less cramped.  I love the rocks in the glass planter, great idea!

I really like the idea of tucking a small office into a closet.  It's such a space saver.  The bright yellow trim and vintage fabric are fun touches.
Desk in a closet!

During the day, the owner places her pillows along the side, making a daybed.  At night, she puts the pillows under the window to sleep.  Skinny shelves double as a desk.

This one is hard to see, but there is a loft bed over the kitchen!

I really enjoyed this book because it highlighted so many ideas for creating more space in small homes.  For each image, Gillingham-Ryan points out why the layout works and what in particular adds style to the room.  That part is completely subjective, but still fun to read :)  Many of the suggestions can be done on a budget, even a limited one.  Some ideas included dividing a room with sheer curtains, or building a loft bed to free up floor space. 

The resource list at the back was different than most home decor books.  It was separated room by room and included a source list for each room.  So if you liked a certain tile, you could flip to the back and discover that it came from Home Depot!  It also included a list, categorized by affordability, of the best websites to buy specific products, like chairs, and tv's.  There were also lists detailing the best paint colours for small spaces, general space saving ideas, and ways to display art, just to name a few.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone living in compact locations!  I know there are a few of you out there ;)  The photos are gorgeous, and it's pretty incredible what people come up with in order to save a few square feet!

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