A Midwestern homeowner – who never met a DIY project she didn’t like – makes a big statement in a small space.

Modern homes are often built with open floor plans – a concept that wasn’t even on the radar in Prairie Village, Kansas, over a half century ago, when Lindsay Dress’s house was built. But a mere floor plan couldn’t deter first-time homeowner Lindsay from maximizing the potential she saw in the tidy suburban hideaway. Over the past year and a half, Lindsay has deconstructed the once-vanilla interior and turned it into a showcase of functional design and space-saving ideas. The home’s small warren of rooms needed a fresh approach – something Lindsay, a self-starter with an eye for design, tackled with gusto. She says: “I refinished the hardwood floors, and then repainted and/or wallpapered each room. Every fixture was changed, then I added intricate wainscoting and a set of French doors in the dining room.” She injected complementary hues throughout, and then mixed small patterns with larger ones. Though Lindsay never feels cramped (“It’s just me and my two dogs, Stella and Sadie”), eking out every inch of space was critical. To accommodate her love of things, Lindsay had to find – or create – functional storage, like the large credenza that Lindsay says is both utilitarian and beautiful. The living room didn’t have storage, so she covered two consoles she already owned with custom tablecloths. “Now,” she says, “they’re instant conversation pieces as well as ideal storage areas.” To make room for a large bed in the master bedroom, Lindsay designed an upholstered headboard that she attached to the wall. Now the bed fits properly in the space. If you ask her for advice, she’s quick to reply, “Use pieces that you love; create an eclectic design scheme for cozy comfort; and make every space count.”

Midcentury split-level: tips for small spaces

  • Inspiration.
    The art of discovery: “Use furnishings and colors you love. I’m bold and unapologetic, so I decorate my house in a way that expresses my personality,” says the homeowner.
  • Design challenges.
    Update small, boxy rooms needing a facelift; add color; solve various storage issues
  • Solutions.
    Resurfacing all hardwood floors; applying new paint and wallcoverings throughout the house; adding new tile in the bathroom plus French doors and wainscoting in the dining nook
  • Best advice.
    Never underestimate the power of repurposing. Examine ways that furniture or accessories can be utilized differently.

Twice as nice: decorate small open living room

Repetition of color and furnishings helps unify the living areas in this small home. Two consoles, two similar pieces of artwork and two plush, welcoming sofas visually tie this room together.

Small open living room decor.
Small open living room decor.

Homeowner Lindsay Dress describes herself as “bold and unapologetic,” and she wanted her house to be the same. She adventurously layers patterns but since each one is bold enough to stand on its own, amazingly they do not compete.

Colorful calm: small bedroom color combinations

A mix of bold-patterned fabrics works in this small master bedroom because they are offset by the tufted beige headboard and subtle wall hue, Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue.

Small bedroom color combinations.
Small bedroom color combinations.

Style fusion

Never shy with color, Lindsay dressed this guest bedroom in deep teal walls. She routinely blends styles, too. Here she employs midcentury modern lamps, a French country-style side table and a Victorian-style chandelier – all thrift sale finds.

Style fusion bedroom.
Style fusion bedroom.

Neutral zone

Of all the rooms in the home, the kitchen, has the least color. Instead, Lindsay keeps the design sleek to focus attention on making the most of her storage space.

Small kitchen creative decorating and storage solutions.
Small kitchen creative decorating and storage solutions.

Fabric fix

A pair of consoles in the living area got a fast-fix treatment; now they not only anchor the room… they also stow extras beneath!

Fashion a no-sew slipcover.
Fashion a no-sew slipcover.

Wall art

To give a compact area dimension, try adding a contrasting wall texture. Lindsay designed the dining room wainscoting, which she topped with a nubby grass cloth to delineate the space from the adjacent kitchen.

Small kitchen wall art.
Small kitchen wall art.

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