If an IKEA expert walked into your home, what would they change about it? Perhaps an inefficient layout is cramping your style, or maybe you've never quite figured out how to style that awkward nook. Without expert help, it's hard to know how to best utilize every inch. As it turns out, you can tap their team for advice.
We just learned about the IKEA Home Tour Squad, a team of five experts who travel across the country to help real families take their small-space challenges. While they're usually on the go doing home makeovers, we managed to steal a moment with them to ask your burning small-space questions, as requested by our Instagram community.
You asked; they answered: This is exactly how an IKEA pro would transform your home.
How do you style open shelving in a small kitchen?
"As much as we love open shelving for kitchens, they can become disorganized quickly," says IKEA designer Steph Recupero. "A good first step is to assess how many of each kitchen item you use and need. This will keep your storage streamlined. Stackable plates, bowls, and mugs will take up less real estate."
It's also important to choose a color theme at the start to fake a minimal kitchen. "To create a look that is clean and calm, choose colors and materials that are cohesive," says fellow designer Anthony Bell. "Whether it be everything in white or mixing two materials together like metal and wood, find the style that suits you, and stay consistent with that choice."
Finally, add some personality. "As a final touch, don't be afraid to bring in some artwork or decorative items," says designer Whitney Hutchinson. "It will add a personal touch and balance the look throughout the rest of the room."
How do you make a room renter-friendly?
The first step to making your rental room feel a little more comfortable for guests is to "think of it like an extended-stay hotel," says Recupero. "The room needs to function as more than just a bedroom."
"When it comes to storage, think beyond just clothing," she recommends. "Most likely, a renter will need space for a variety of items, so providing options is important. A mix of open, closed, and drawer storage will help accommodate whatever they may need to store."
It's also a good idea to add additional furniture to give guests a place to hang out. "Providing some additional comforts can go a long way in making a renter feel self-sufficient," says Hutchinson. "The addition of soft seating, like a chair, will give them a place to unwind and relax without having to leave their room." Add a small dining table if possible, and a variety of task, overhead, and accent lighting, and it'll be renter-ready in no time.
How do you decorate an open living room without making it feel cramped?
"Open floor plans definitely have their perks, but all the possibilities can make furniture layout and décor a bit tricky," admits Recupero. "First off, bigger is better. Don't be afraid to go with pieces that are larger scale—Not only will they define specific areas of the room, but they’ll also feel far less cluttered than having a lot of small pieces," she says.
Another option is to use furniture to define spaces within an open-plan room. "Oftentimes, people think of the space as just one large room and lay out all of their furniture along the perimeter," says Bell. "Instead, use furniture groupings to create different zones within the space, and don't be afraid to 'float' furniture off the walls."
In terms of defining focal points, Hutchinson says to start with the architecture of the room. "Take advantage of niches, fireplaces, and any other unique architectural features first." She also points out that there's no need to limit yourself to just one focal point. "Think instead in terms of the zones you've created, and then try and define something interesting within those zones. It doesn't have to be overly complex and can be as simple as a piece of artwork or a grouping of decorative items."
How do I utilize nooks and "dead spaces" in my apartment?
"Getting the most out of every square inch is important in any home, but especially in a small apartment," says Hutchinson. "Take some measurements and do a little research to find an option that will fit as close to the full amount of space you have available. Even something as easy as a wall-mounted shelf above seating areas or doorways and windows can take advantage of unused space and add valuable storage."
Struggling to find a console or table to your small room's specs? Consider exploring hallway furniture, recommends Bell. "They tend to have a slimmer profile and can be better suited for tight spaces."
If you're looking to add multiple storage options to one room, he also recommends starting with a system that is flexible and can be added to over time. "The Algot, Elvarli, and Svalnäs systems provide a variety of storage options and can be customized to fit your space perfectly. They're also perfect if you're on a limited budget because you can simply start off with basic pieces that solve your immediate storage issues, and then add to it over time."
How do I blend a multiuse space together?
"Multiuse spaces are more and more common, and integrating multiple functions into one seamless environment is definitely a challenge a lot of people can relate to," says Hutchinson. "One surefire way to add cohesion is to paint the whole space the same color. This will make it feel larger and less segmented."
Opt for the same streamlined look with furniture, too, says Recupero. "When choosing furniture, look for pieces that have the same or similar finishes. Of course, not everything has to match, but by incorporating some furniture pieces with the same finish or color throughout, you'll be able to bring the space together and add a sense of unity."
Pay attention to soft furnishings, too. "Curtains and textiles are also a great option to connect an open space," she says. "This is especially true for open floor plans where multiple activity areas are shared in one space."
I am a book lover—should I integrate them into the living space, or store them away?
"A great rule of thumb for anything you love is to celebrate it," says Bell. "The same rule applies to your home. If books are the thing you love, integrating them into your space is important. There are a number of ways to achieve this that are both stylish and functional."
He recommends trying a modular book shelf system, like the Eket series. "The wide variety of options lets you play with the size, color, depth, and configuration. It gives you an opportunity to get creative so you can showcase your books as well as your personal style." Play with the presentation, too. The owners of this Scandinavian home above turned their paperbacks into works of art by alternating the way each stack of books is placed on the shelf.
Up Next: We Gave Our Editors $100 at IKEA for a Living Room Update—Here Are Their Picks
This post was originally published on August 27, 2017, and has since been updated.