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Your perfect space

Fox Run design experts know how to maximize smaller home living

Created date

October 23rd, 2015
Fox Run Custom Interior Coordinators Donna Harki and Deanna Dau
Fox Run Custom Interior Coordinators Donna Harki a

Having a stylish and comfortable home isn’t necessarily about having a ton of space. If you decide to downsize, you don’t have to sacrifice style because you’re living in smaller home. In fact, a good interior decorator has a few tricks up her sleeve to help maximize smaller spaces and help retirees seamlessly blend treasured older furniture with new, modern pieces.

Deanna Dau and Donna Harki both work in the Custom Interiors department at Fox Run. They help people who move to the Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich., figure out how to make beautiful, functional homes in spaces that may be smaller than their previous houses. 

Both Dau and Harki have a number of years of experience in the design industry. 

Dau has a certificate of schooling in design and worked in the design industry for 20 years, including running her own business, before coming to Fox Run. She has been a Custom Interiors coordinator at the community for more than 11 years. 

Harki has worked at Fox Run for about three years. She previously worked in the design department at another Michigan retirement community. She has a keen eye for color and is adept at designing for clients who are downsizing.

We asked Dau and Harki for their best tips and insider secrets on decorating a new, smaller home for retirement. 

Q: Which pieces of furniture tend to look bulky in a smaller home when you downsize? 

A: Large sofas, living room chairs, dining room tables with large dining chairs, and large entertainment centers. These are the pieces you may want to consider replacing when you move to a smaller home, but most other furniture should work well in a new space.

Q: What advice do you have for downsizing retirees who love to entertain at home?

A: Getting a smaller dining table with leaves (that I always suggest storing under the bed and not taking up closet space) is one great way of entertaining in a smaller space. Also, use the extra dining chairs in other areas of the apartment for seating. Going from a king-size bed to a queen bed always gives the bedroom more space. 

Q: What are some tips for making rooms multifunctional that people can use to maximize space in smaller homes? 

A: We talk about using a sofa bed that pulls out to create a bed for those times when guests are staying. That way, most of the time the room can be used as a TV room and an office space. 

Q: What are some decorators’ secrets to make smaller homes appear more spacious?

A: We recommend a lighter paint color continued throughout the whole apartment, and the right scale of furniture is always a good tip. We also suggest not having little items all over the place and keeping end tables and servers free from clutter. 

Q: What are some good ways to mix furniture styles if you want to update your décor when you downsize but have some favorite (and possibly expensive) pieces of older furniture? 

A: We always suggest bringing your favorite pieces, then looking for more neutral items that can blend with any décor. 

Q: If you have collections of art or other items that took up a lot of space in your old house, how can you still enjoy those in a home with less space? 

A: We suggest you pick the items that mean the most to you. You may be able to use them in your apartment but possibly in a different placement than you may have had in your larger home. 

Q: What are some of the best things to dispose of when downsizing—the things that, in your experience, people tend not to miss after they downsize? 

A: Larger pieces of furniture or items that you may not have used in the past six months to a year. Think about how a piece of furniture could be used in a different manner than used before. For example, use a large nightstand as an end table or an entry chest for storage. 

Q: Which things should you definitely hang onto even if you are moving to a smaller home for retirement? 

A: Small or medium chests of drawers can be used in many different places. Hang onto lamps of all sizes, including floor lamps for those smaller areas. Also consider using dining armchairs as nice side chairs in the living room and keeping a server to be used as a cabinet for your TV, as it has lots of storage and is a good height for the TV.

Q: What other advice can you offer for decorating when you downsize? 

A: Look for all possible storage pieces that can used in different ways. You might add bookshelves on either side of the windows for more display areas or customize the closets to provide more storage and more hanging space for clothes. Also consider adding pullouts in bottom cabinets to make storage more accessible. 

Q: How do the common areas at Fox Run expand residents’ living space, even if their apartment home is smaller than their old house?

A: Residents have the option to host larger parties in the private dining room or in our Derby room. They do not need fitness equipment in their apartments because we have a state-of-the-art fitness center, and we are adding a second fitness center in another building for yoga, tai chi, exercise videos, Jazzercise, and balance classes. Residents also have access to craft rooms and multiple rooms they can reserve for a variety of functions and activities.