Home & Garden

Is any room/item too small for design?

Erin Owen

Laundry rooms may not be the first place people think of to express themselves, but incorporating color and art can make a functional room more fun for users. For this fan of Stars Hollow, it was the perfect spot for a print suggesting living life like “Gilmore Girls.”
Erin Owen Laundry rooms may not be the first place people think of to express themselves, but incorporating color and art can make a functional room more fun for users. For this fan of Stars Hollow, it was the perfect spot for a print suggesting living life like “Gilmore Girls.”

As I was hanging art in my laundry room, I wondered — is there any room too small or too utilitarian to design or accessorize?

A storage room was about the only space I could imagine. But even if it’s just a space to hold boxes, it surely can benefit from a study of how the space is used and making sure it’s meeting its potential. While not the glamorous side of interior design, that knowledge will improve the space.

We have stores dedicated to organizing closets. The layout of rods, shelving and pull out drawers can make otherwise empty containers become visually interesting. There are closets that could double in terms of size for a big-city apartment. Task and accent lighting, material finishes and hardware details can makes these spaces look as good as the clothes they house.

When space is at a premium, a closet can become a nook for an office. Storage needs bring opportunities for creativity in these spaces.

Functional design

Like rooms, there’s nothing to say that design cannot extend to functional, everyday items.

Target has proved that to us.

The retailer has given us designer lines of kitchen utensils and appliances. Sure, someone could buy a plain toaster or Michael Graves’ Pop Art Toaster. It hovers off the counter with rounded knob feet and looks like a cheerful appliance that could fit in at Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Graves’ 15-year partnership with Target gave the big box retailer designer products for homes.

Baskets are an undeniably functional item, but every time I walk into the home decor section I see baskets that look far from basic. Wire baskets with copper accents, woven baskets accentuated with color and printed designs.

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I’m convinced there’s no space or item that’s not worthy of some loving design attention. Maybe that’s because I’m not a minimalist. I see the appeal of uncluttered surfaces and downsizing one’s possessions, but I believe our homes should be filled with items we love, that make us smile and reflect who we are.

Minimalism just doesn’t do that. People are more interesting and complex than minimalism suggests.

People are living beyond the traditional home — from tiny homes, a truly open floor plan where all areas are visible, to she sheds, which exist as a reason for women to design and accessorize a space for themselves.

Outdoor living has changed about how we think of the yard. These spaces have become an extension of living rooms. Pergolas to provide shade, fireplaces to offer warmth and comfortable seating to make the area inviting are items that were not always on the checklist.

Shaping an environment or room to suit one’s needs means that spaces can be whatever a person envisions. So go ahead and think outside the box when you open your linen closet the next time.

• Erin Owen graduated from the interior design program at Kirkwood Community College. She has worked as a commercial and residential interior designer. Comments: erin.n.owen@gmail.com

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