Thursday, April 5, 2007

Home’s nooks can become a showcase

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Home is where you hang your hat, keys, pictures and – you get the idea. But most importantly, no matter how limited your space is at home, there is a place for everything.

There are those spaces in every home that are either so small or uniquely positioned that they defy all functional or aesthetic use. Still, there are ways to make them both useful and a joy to look at.

Do you love a fine wine? Instead of letting the space under your staircase get cluttered or dusty, interior designer and American Society Of Interior Designers member Gloria Capron suggests using this area as a wine gallery.

Capron, a conceptual designer for more than 25 years and owner of Gloria Capron Interior Design in Silver Spring, said her clients enjoy using niche space for collections.

Tired of tripping over your child’s trophies? Capron advises placing a high shelf where children’s awards, trophies and other memorabilia can be stored.

Imagine having your children put on the production of the year in a small space converted into a play area for children. Capron said the creative dreams of your children can be brought to life simply by placing a blackboard in a small space and creating their own stage area.

Capron advises pet lovers to consider using small spaces for their pets.

Capron said you can also craft creative dining spaces in small areas.

‘‘A cozy breakfast area can provide close conversation as well as create a rich and wonderful space,” Capon said.

Although Capron is an advocate for handcrafted items and contemporary crafts and enjoys the contrast between the old and the new, she has one caveat: Watch out for visual noise and clutter.

‘‘There is a thin line where collections become clutter and begin to look overdecorated,” she said.

Linda Welcome of Welcome Interiors in Kensington said that when designing your small space, you should take into consideration the space and how close it is to functioning areas of your home. And, professional organizer Cindy Bernstein of Baltimore, owner of, advises that when evaluating and using space, you should eliminate what you don’t love or need and then find a space for what’s left.

This is exactly what her client, Bob Swenson of Baltimore, did when he built a pullout pantry in the six inches between his refrigerator and kitchen cabinet.

‘‘Our house is so small I had to use the space the best way I could,” said Swenson, who has also utilized small holes in his walls.

‘‘I filled holes in the wall with pullout containers,” said Swenson, who admits he has a creative streak.

But what do you do when you run out of space altogether? You could try what Capitol Heights resident Victor James did.

Rather than face the pain of an expanding mortgage payment for a larger home when his family expanded, James added 800 square feet to his Capitol Heights home by 800 square feet instead by adding a second story. James, who does architecture work for Howard University, converted a two-bedroom home to a four-bedroom home with an office and a master suite with a Jacuzzi. He even changed the position of his front door and the entire façade of the home.

But if an entire home renovation is not in your budget, there are other ways to gain more space. Interior designer Yuki Williams, owner of Kutra Home and Design Inc. in the District, said you don’t have to spend a lot of money. And, contrary to popular belief, Williams said that using built-in shelving creates rather than depletes space.

‘‘Built-ins make the room bigger because the shelves become a part of the wall. And although people believe that you have to spend a lot to install, Williams said you can purchase free-standing closets, which can serve as built-ins, at home improvement stores.