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The Art of Urban Design

With the renewal of urban cities such as Washington, DC, Dallas and Charlotte and the changing landscape of suburbs becoming more dense, there is an increasing desire to bring the “art of urban design” to residences. 

We’ve outlined two main issues that you can face living in the city such as lack of storage and color options to complement your space.  Use the storage solutions mentioned below to address space shortage as well as the color tips to make a space appear larger than life (kind of).

Space, space and not enough space…

Expensive storage rentals can seem like an easy option but after time the expense of the rental will probably cost more than the actual items being stored.  Explore incorporating items such as multi-function furniture pieces and built-ins if possible.

Furniture selection and arrangement for cozy floor planning…

If you’re short on space you may want to forgo bulky furniture for more minimalist styling and clean, straight lines.  Perhaps a large coffee table would take up too much room and interrupt the flow of the room.  Instead use two smaller identical side tables adjacent to each other to still have table space to lay items but not absorb half the room space.  A storage ottoman is another good choice as it serves as seating and a place to put away items out of sight.

You may also add detail to a small space with the use of textures and patterns in layers.  It can make the space feel comfortable and not overwhelmed if done right.  Hang curtains high to also give the appearance of taller ceilings and bring airiness to the room.  Incorporate swing arm wall lamps instead of floor lighting to illuminate your room and save space for other items.

Color considerations for every room…

There are certain color combinations that can make a space much bigger such as soft neutrals and some medium toned grays. As a general rule, paint the walls and trim the same color for a more expansive look by making the ceilings appear taller.  Also, consider incorporating an accent wall by using a bold paint choice or colorful wallcovering to draw focus to a specific area.

Hope you enjoy the room by room options below along with color suggestions for easy urban living.


Consider under the bed storage such as roll-away boxes for bulky items like sweaters and blankets by using an old book shelf  http://diyfunideas.com/diy-under-the-bed-storage/.  Use night stands that have multiple functions in addition to a place for your table lamp.  Include small cabinet or shelves for additional storage.  Free up floor space by using wall mounted lighting and built-in shelving.  Use drawer dividers in your dresser and place accessories on the wall for décor enhancements.  

Color suggestions include sophisticated light grays, khaki earth tones and pastels such as lavender and spa blue.


For kitchens, think about off the floor shelving such as the one pictured above and be creative in showing off serving ware and other decorative pieces.  DIY can shelving like the soup dispensers at supermarkets are also another good choice http://www.shanty-2-chic.com/2012/10/pantry-ideas-diy-canned-food-storage.html.  Place hooks inside cabinet doors to hang dish towels and hide plastic bags.  Use stackable shelves as well in your cabinets to organize pots, pans and dishes.  A tension rod placed under your kitchen sink can hold household cleaners by the lever.  Incorporate wall mounts to hold things like cook books, dishes and small storage canisters.

Colors for the kitchen range and include favorites such as white, gray, blue, red, yellow, and green.  Small kitchen spaces can be helped tremendously with neutrals especially when paired with shiny and matte materials to help add texture.

Dining and living rooms

As we opt for more open space living, most dining and living rooms are combined into one seamless space.  Consider a main theme to make sure and tie the spaces together.  Try various furniture pairings such as a round table and bench seating to make room for more at the table but not take up the entire dining room with the traditional table and seating. 

Don’t be afraid to use wall space by either using for chair storage or mounting a folding table.  Shelves instead of cabinets are suggested as you can be creative with the types of shelving materials used as well as how and what you display.  Cabinets take up much more space and can take away from the “openness” you want to instill in the dining room. 

A large mirror is a tried and true method for giving the illusion of more space.  The reflection gives off depth and reflects light giving the appearance of a larger room. 

Colors to liven up dining and living room areas include jade, turquoise, chartreuse, neutrals and deeper hues such as deep greens and reds.


Bathroom designs are becoming smaller and more private in urban dwellings.  You may want to embrace more minimalist style practices but still incorporate a sleek look, comfort and function. 

Use all aspects of the room including over the toilet with shelving to spread out items without looking cluttered.  Under the sink baskets add a nice natural fabric touch to any space.  Place hooks or towel racks behind the door.  Use smaller drawers and baskets in your cabinets to organize and easily find smaller toiletries.

For the bathroom, seeking colors and tones that promote serenity and tranquility will make for a relaxing oasis. Seek shades in the warm taupe, light grays, spa aqua, bright white and pastels.

Bonus: Outdoor space tips

Are you an urban dweller short on yard space?  Most residential developments are cutting back on yards and opting for shared common areas. It is more convenient not to have a large yard to maintain but you may miss having the greenery as part of your scenic backdrop. 

Here are some alternatives for balcony and indoor gardens.  Hanging plants are your friends for balcony gardens.  Check with your local plant nursery to ensure you are buying the proper plant based on how much sun and other outside conditions that may affect sustaining plant life. 

Also, consider terrariums to bring some organic and colorful life into your home.  Plant nights, which our popular outings where you meet up with friends and make your own in addition to wine tasting, is a good place to start.  You have the guidance of an instructor along the way and it’s fun to see what you create at the end of the night. 

Succulents such as chevaria, aeonium and crassula are good choices and don’t require much care if you’ve ever been guilty of neglecting your green thumb.

Are you ready…

to get started on your project? Share what you’re working on and we’ll chat about how we can help.

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