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posted: 6/8/2014 12:01 AM

Update things that take up zero space

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By Christine Brun

Without taking up any space, you can achieve dramatic shifts in a small place. Let's examine five ideas that you can immediately put into practice.

Begin with wall color. Can you add a fun color to the front entry or back porch? In some floor plans, this is an easy fix. If that is not the case for you, consider changing the hue in hallways, a powder bath, kitchen or the dining room.

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Next, take a hard look at what is on your windows. Getting it just right not only makes a room seem larger, but also it can increase light in a space. There are literally thousands of variations on the old-school curtain. New technology has delivered shades that operate by touch, eliminating unsightly hanging cords. The old roller shades and Venetian blinds have transformed into woven roller shades that add texture to a room and pleated cellular shades. You can add pattern, color, texture and personality without sacrificing any floor space. Beautiful window coverings can change how you experience a space by filtering natural light when it enters the room.

My third suggestion is to change what you have on your walls. I once met a professor who admitted to me that he and his wife lived in a condo with blank, white walls. When I asked why, he admitted that it was because they didn't think they'd be staying in one place for very long! That may not be logical and as a consequence they lived in a boring white box.

Holes can be patched with filler and touched up when a renter leaves. If you own your home, then there are few reasons to leave walls unadorned.

There are ways to add dimension to a tiny entrance and "Water Lilies," shown in the photo here, is a shining example of how something hanging on a wall can become a showstopper. This assembly of shapes not only acts as a foyer mirror, it defines this section of the house as special.

With the Internet, there is no excuse for anyone to be short on ideas of unique accessory items. You don't even have to leave your home to shop for wall artwork. You may already own things that could become artfully displayed.

Examine your floors next. In a small home, one material is always the best choice because it creates a better flow between rooms.

There are regional differences in taste regarding using various colors of carpet, but a house will feel bigger with just one color and type throughout.

When you must use two different types of coverings, the tone of the materials should stay similar to encourage spaciousness. Renters often are the most challenged with regard to flooring. Know that you can buy carpet squares and hide flooring that offends. This is a workable idea for a foyer, a bathroom or even a kitchen.

Finally, conduct a decluttering campaign!

In my home, this needs to happen quarterly because my husband and I are stackers. This horrible habit can quickly get out of hand. When I force myself to look at each area as if I were a stranger walking into the house for the first time, I am ashamed. It's sloppy looking and there is no excuse.

The theory from experts is that you should only handle a piece of paper once and then put it where it needs to go permanently. As I look around my office, I am elated at what you cannot see. When we keep our spaces clutter-free, we increase the openness.

• Christine Brun is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at christinebrun@sbcglobal.net.

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