Big Opportunities In Small Spaces

Design expert Libby Langdon shares strategies for profiting in a fast-growing new sector

Millions of Millennials are buying starter homes. Baby Boomers continue to downsize. These two demographic trends create opportunities for retailers and designers who can make small spaces look big and do more. In her Market seminar, Libby Langdon, designer, TV personality, and author of Libby Langdon’s Small Space Solutions, shared her secrets for making every square foot sing.

Libby’s Small Space Tip #1: Keep it Moving

“Multifunctional furniture is one of the best ways to capitalize on available square footage and have a room serve more than one purpose,” says Langdon. In this room, she combined four small, mobile ottomans to serve as a large cocktail table. When needed, they can also be split up and used as side tables or seating. The folding console table behind the sofa can be moved around to the front and opened up to create a makeshift dining area. Curved barrel-back swivel chairs not only save space, but ease traffic flow, and can be turned to create multiple conversation areas.

Libby’s Small Space Tip #2: Rich Colors Rule

Counter-intuitive as it seems, colorful walls can work well in small spaces. “Plain white walls don’t actually add square footage and can leave a room feeling uninspired and boring,” says Langdon. “Painting one wall a bold rich color and painting the other walls a light- to medium-tone can actually make the dark wall feel like it’s receding, making your room look larger.” To create contrast with a dark wall, choose light-colored upholstery fabrics. Complete the look by hanging artwork to break up the color while adding depth and dimension to the space.

Libby’s Small Space Tip #3: Dining by Design

“Even the smallest dining area can feel big if it’s well-designed,” says Langdon. “A banquette is a great choice because it can be pushed up against a wall – and you don’t have to allow space to pull a chair out. Choose a pedestal table with a glass top to establish an open and airy feel – and don’t be afraid to use a long buffet. Hang draperies close to the ceiling to draw the eye upward and create the visual illusion of added space.”

In addition to her small space design tips, Langdon shared ideas for growing a design business. “Do a seminar at your local furniture store and call out products the retailer has that are good for small spaces,” she said. “Make postcards for your business and hand them out at stores such as Homegoods. Be shameless, but gracious – because nobody’s going to promote you like you will. Offer your expertise to your local newspaper and the producer of the morning TV show in your area. People are really hungry for ideas, and good things happen when we share information.”

“It’s important to share the information I have and what I’ve learned. It’s what my brand is built on.”

Reflecting on the value of at-Market seminars, Langdon says, “The great thing about presentations at High Point Market is that while we’re all there to do business, it’s good to return home inspired.” From our full schedule of seminars and networking opportunities, retailers and designers can gain an understanding of consumers’ changing needs, refine their merchandising mix, and learn how to solve a wide range of design challenges. To see what’s on tap for next Market, check our Events section. Presenters start posting topics, dates, times, and locations about two months before opening day, and continue updating the schedule until the last week before Market.

About Libby Langdon

Interior designer, author, product designer, makeover television personality, and the creative force behind her New York City-based design firm, Libby Interiors, Inc., Langdon has won acclaim for her easy, elegant, everyday style. She is also fast becoming known for her growing portfolio of branded home furnishings collections. At Market, you can see her designs in the The Bradburn Gallery showroom, and her rug collection at KAS Rugs.