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How to use the vertical space in your home

Incorporating a custom-built desk and shelving unit is a creative way to turn a nook into a functional space —like this study area in the show suite at Bosa's University District in Surrey.
Incorporating a custom-built desk and shelving unit is a creative way to turn a nook into a functional space —like this study area in the show suite at Bosa's University District in Surrey. - Lynn Mitges

How to take your space to new heights

We tend to think horizontally when it comes to decor . Think of the large expanse of a sofa, the coffee table that’s lower to the floor, and almost all art placed strategically within the six or seven feet between the furniture and the ceiling.

Thinking vertically can repurpose awkward spaces and lift your eye up, so you’re not just looking from the floor to the art above the couch. Using the space elongates the room and is particularly stunning when the ceilings are more than eight feet high.

How to do it? Here are a few ideas.

Use those awkward nooks

We often fall into the trap of putting a bookcase into a nook. That’s fine, but being more creative can use the space wisely and lend a custom look. In the photo above, designer Nadine Sheppard saw the space as being more purposeful, even though it is small.

“In this situation, I saw a corner that was problematic and had no purpose. Storage was needed so there was an opportunity to turn the large, awkward corner into something useful — and at the same time, make it unique, handcrafted and original,” she says.

The result is closed storage on the bottom, and custom fitted wood shelving for displaying items that are regularly used: books, glasses and a sweet little vase.

The effect also draws the eye up, which makes a room feel larger. The same treatment can be used in very small corners with diagonal shelving. Many entryways have small right-angle spaces that typically are where the shoes get piled. But a diagonal treatment creates a cleaner, sophisticated look — especially when the same sort of design is used with closed storage below and shelving above. This treatment works particularly well in bathrooms, where vertical space can be used to hold items right up toward the ceiling.

It’s this type of design that Sheppard says work beautifully throughout the home and is sort of like putting pieces of a puzzle together.

Similar images with white frames showcased in a narrow space.- Lynn  Mitges/Postmedia
Similar images with white frames showcased in a narrow space.- Lynn Mitges/Postmedia

 

Use art to its advantage

Ditch the horizontal look for a more powerful impact, such as this place where a series of beach scenes is posted vertically and almost to the ceiling (above). You wouldn’t want to do this with too many different scenes or frames, but the unity of content and white frames uses this small vertical space and works particularly well with high ceilings. The added little starfish lights snaked around the frames adds a nice touch in the evening, too. Creating tonal art collections — like this — also imbues a peaceful mood to the room.

Create a workstation

A popular trend for several years has been to turn small closets into work stations. With the closet doors removed, there is a perfect space to create a built-in desktop with shelving above, and even filing cabinets below. Although the space is small, it is ideal for wallpapering behind the desk — all the way to the ceiling. Opening up the closet creates more storage and is a much nicer option that using your laptop on the kitchen table. And because the space is small, you can look at any number of custom desks and shelving, from glass and wood to a high-gloss European finish that will also reflect the light in tight spaces.

 

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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