Home & Leisure

Small Spaces: A Cozy Room

Christine Brun on

What are the essential ingredients that make up the perfect cozy space? Fortunately for us, the first requirement is a room that's not a huge loft space with 14-foot ceilings and cool cement floors. No, we are looking for a room in a bungalow or a cottage, an apartment or an auxiliary dwelling unit.

There are people who prefer a small room to a large one because the ambiance created is special and unique. It's personal. It's cozy! You could toss a pad of paper over to the other sofa. You could stand up and tend to the fire without taking more than one step. A tray of hot tea and sandwiches could be placed on the coffee table and people seated on both sofas can reach it. It's convenient and efficient.

But most devotees of small rooms are attracted to the idea of fitting in their most desired elements without losing intimacy. By necessity, then, each part of the design must be built to function in a smaller area. Skill and observation are needed when you desire to coax the most out of a tiny room. This sitting area demonstrates such success. Anchored around a petite fireplace with a heat-circulating unit is a cozy ensemble. The fireplace wall is perfectly designed with woodwork appropriately scaled to the area, which means that the design is not too large for the room and in sync with the other parts of the space. We find books on the shelves that flank the fireplace and create the sense of a quiet library. There is colorful and passionate artwork that's well-lit and displayed along with a few key accessory items. The seating is plump and casually laced with accent pillows. Lighting is available for reading or playing a board or card game.

The bay that holds the French doors can be closed off with soft fabric drapes that muffle sound, hold in warmth from the fireplace or block out glaring sun. Wood-planked flooring creates richness and texture that works in concert with the painted white woodwork. It's fresh and classic and very simple.

I have interviewed people who chose to live in a smaller home to learn about their reasons for the choice. One couple left their huge suburban home to move into their weekend beach cottage that was definitely space-challenged. Why? They had made the observation during their frequent visits to the seaside village that their young kids were actually happier. "We spend more time together playing games and we are so confined here that it forces us to get along!" the husband offered. Their place was once home to a family of five, and with a few upgrades, this modern couple saw the value in shrinking their big lifestyle.

Others have told me the same thing over the years: Living in close proximity was helpful in building a sense of closeness and solidarity. "Love grows better in small houses," one client once offered. He, too, was moving his suburban McMansion household into a tiny Spanish Revival house two blocks from the ocean. But the choice may not be for everyone. For example, living with only one bathroom for a family of four is challenging. Yet a remodel might make it possible to build out over a garage or finish a basement to have more space. I've talked with people who live in the country and have added a composting toilet to a granny flat over the garage or converted a garage into a guest suite, home office, art studio or home gym.

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Photo Credit: CC0 Creative Commons


Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at




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