Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan knows a thing or two about small spaces. Not only does he live in a modestly sized West Village walk-up with his wife and daughter, but as the founder of Apartment Therapy, he provides an online resource/showroom for the inhabitants of some seriously stylish, seriously tiny dwellings. For his new book, “Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces,” he invaded dozens of homes in search of creative space solutions, so we hit him up for a few tips.
See the light
“Small spaces tend to mean spaces that don’t have a lot of natural light,” says Gillingham-Ryan, who recommends full-spectrum bulbs to create a soft, natural look. “If you choose to divide up your space, make sure there’s plenty of lighting in every part to give the illusion of a bigger room.”
Don’t be afraid of color
While light is good, boldly colored walls can make a room feel larger — the apartment featured on the book’s cover even continued the dark blue paint on the ceiling to create the illusion of height (and, incidentally, packs in a full kitchen under the lofted bed). “They add a sense of playfulness,” says Gillingham-Ryan. “Bright, rich colors can open up a space and make a dramatic contrast.”
Make your stuff nice
“We didn’t photograph a lot of minimal homes,” says Gillingham-Ryan. “[The homes in the book] were very visual, but it looks very natural and comfortable, and not overwhelming. The quality of the stuff you have is important, though. As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to have a lot of stuff out because there isn’t a lot of storage space, you want to make it look like an expression of self, not clutter.”