Overcome Common Design Dilemmas on Budget - The Habitat
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Whether you're moving into a new space or looking to upgrade your current home, you may face some design dilemmas that make it a challenge to create the look you want. The good news is that no home is perfect, and most of us can't rip out the inside and start from scratch! Recognizing the challenges you inherited with your space is the first step toward solving them.

With some attention and work, the areas that pose the biggest challenges may become your favorite parts of your home.

01

Lack of storage space

Not having enough storage spills over into all areas of your living space. It is hard to keep your home neat and tidy without sufficient places to put stuff. What many people consider being messy is often the lack of a proper storage area for belongings.

Look for storage options that you don't mind seeing. Shop for storage ottomans, attractive baskets with lids, and other pieces that perform double duty. If you have an empty wall, there are a lot of very attractive wall units that conceal a huge amount of storage behind stylish doors.

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02

A tiny room

Having a room that is very small presents a few design challenges. To ensure the furniture doesn't overwhelm the room, look at apartment-sized pieces. To help the room look larger, paint it a solid color. Don't be afraid to go bold, but you'll probably want to stay away from busy patterns. Finally, critically edit everything you put in this room. Each piece should have a purpose (or more than one purpose!).

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03

Open-concept floor plan

Open-concept floor plans were all the rage at one time, but busy families soon learned that there were drawbacks to these wide open spaces. In addition the challenge of working, studying, or entertaining if others are doing something else in the same large, multipurpose area, decorating an open floor plan is a challenge.

Solving the privacy problems can also solve the design issue. Look for screens to partition off parts of the home. Screens are available in a variety of materials, including wood, glass, and paper.

Continue the theme of separate living areas by adding rugs. A unique rug designates boundaries and anchors the space.

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04

Low ceilings

Help make your rooms look a little taller by hanging curtains both higher and wider than the windows. Don't go to the ceiling, but by positioning the curtain rods a few inches above the window frame and extending the ends about six inches beyond the window on each side, you'll create the illusion of height. Quality window coverings further amplify this look, but you'll likely want to stay away from the extravagant kind that pools on the ground (just like cropped pants make shorter people look taller).

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05

Awkward, unused spaces

Have a little cove or nook in the living room that makes decorating a challenge? Rather than trying to decorate around it, embrace it. Think of ways you can use the awkward space to create interest. Could you add a bench and some cushions for a reading nook? Some shelves to create the appearance of a built-in book shelf? Decorating the area with intention keep it from looking like a design flaw.

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06

Poor lighting

Most homes do not have nearly enough light to look their best. You are probably so accustomed to living in low-light situations you don't even notice the issue. Overhead fixtures are great, but don't let that stop you from adding task lighting in each room. Multiple lamps, preferably with adjustable brightness levels, allow you to create a home that feels warm and cozy.

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07

Unattractive views

Maybe the problem isn't with your interior, but with your neighborhood or your neighbor's backyard. If the view out one or more of your windows leaves something to be desired, you don't have to live with it. Create a screen of foliage along your property line to add visual interest and improve the view. A bamboo screen is also a great natural way to alter your sightline for the better — just make sure you choose a variety that isn't invasive.

If outdoor planting isn't an option for some reason, window film is another way you can keep from cringing when you look out the window. Choose something printed — stained or pane glass could be fun — and make sure it isn't so opaque that it hinders the amount of natural light coming through.

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08

Undersized kitchen

The kitchen is the workhorse of the house. If it isn't designed right for your family, appearance isn't the only issue. Without sufficient cabinet space, you may be left with storing items on the counter. With the counter stacked up, it is challenging to cook and clean. When things are cluttered, even a clean kitchen can look messy.

Look for storage that will help solve your issues. A modular kitchen island with wheels can be rolled out to use when baking, then rolled against the wall when not in use, and store pots and pans or pantry items below the surface.

Think hard about every item you store on the counter. Try to leave out only items you use daily. Clear out cabinet space by moving infrequently used items, such as holiday dishes or the big food processor, to another area of the home. There is no rule that says these items need to be stored in the kitchen.

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09

Narrow rooms

A narrow room can feel like an afterthought, and often they are — a living space concocted from a converted porch, for example. But narrow rooms don't have to be difficult to decorate.

Consider wallpapering one of the short walls with a horizontal print. Paint the remaining walls with a soft neutral that complements the wallpaper. Select light-colored furniture and window coverings, and add a mirror for visual interest.

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10

Lack of character

Whether it is a 70s ranch or a 90s McMansion, each era has its share of homes that are low on character and easily dated. The best way to handle this issue on a budget is to not fight it too much. Trying to jump on the farmhouse trend in a McMansion will feel out of place. Instead, take advantage of what the design offers, such as high ceilings or a smart floorplan, and minimize the things you don't care for.

An example of this is the rather basic finishes used in many 90s designs that try to make up in square footage what they lack in charm. Up the luxe factor by furnishing the home with fabrics and furniture rich in texture and warmth. Rather than competing, adding these materials will add life to the home and allow more run-of-the-mill features to fade into the background.

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