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From that oddly shaped closet under the stairs, to that curiously empty corner, and the long, blank wall you’ve never known quite how to fill, we all have spaces in our homes that aren’t quite meeting their functional and aesthetic potential. Today, we’ve rounded up a few nifty ideas from interior designers from around the South who’ve dreamed up some creative ideas for otherwise uninspiring spaces. Who knows … maybe there’s a solution here you can use to solve a design dilemma in your own home!

Bringing the Outside Up

Inside, a penthouse condominium designed by Atlanta interior designer Minhnuyet Hardy of Minhnuyet Hardy Interiors is a small-space delight, and it’s bursting with great ideas – color blocking, graphic pattern, distinctive lighting – designed to maximize the home’s footprint, delineate the spaces and add visual impact. But it’s outside where Minhnuyet’s creative genius really comes into play.

The home is in the Inman Park area of Atlanta, and because it’s on the top floor – nine stories up — outdoor space for the unit was limited and green space was nonexistent. The balcony, however, was spacious, and Minhnuyet spotted an opportunity. “It was just a concrete slab balcony,” she says. “There’s a sliding glass door, so I really wanted to have that indoor-outdoor feel. With a condo or an apartment, it can feel so urban and just very sterile. I wanted different zones – a lounge zone, an eating zone, an area where you could have your pet.”

Minhnuyet added grass to the space – not real grass, of course, but artificial turf. “It’s soft,” she says. “We looked at 30 different vendors, and to me, this was one of the most realistic. It looks like real grass.” An added bonus? The turf she chose offers drainage so that water (and pet-related liquids) seep down, run off, and wash away with the rain.

creative spaces

Inside this Inman Park penthouse, color blocking and statement lighting create a tremendous impact. Image: Brandi Boblett

creative spaces

This turf looks quite like the real thing, don’t you think? Image: Brandi Boblett

A ‘Bright’ Storage Solution

Likewise, in this compact apartment along Miami’s South Beach, interior designer Tiffany Anich of Chattanooga-based Southerly Abode employed several creative space-maximizing techniques. Tiffany created an incredible work area with a view (seen below), but it was a long, blank wall in a room with limited storage that brought the biggest head-scratcher. To solve the dilemma, she decided to think outside the box – literally.

For added cabinet storage that lines an entire wall, Tiffany used IKEA base kitchen cabinets and came up with her own creative hack to make them suit her needs. “I changed the top and I changed the hardware,” she explains. The row of cabinetry houses all sorts of hidden items – even a TV. “They had to hold a lot because it was just a small apartment on the beach.”

As for the room’s boldly hued focal point, Tiffany painted the canvases herself to play off the vintage-modern yellow lamps. “I painted the yellow artwork just to have some bright color,” she says.

creative spaces

IKEA cabinets with swapped out hardware created a spacious and affordable storage solution. Image: Blue Ocean Photography

Not a bad view for the work day, eh? Image: Blue Ocean Photography

What an inspiring view to start each day! Image: Blue Ocean Photography

A Little Bit Rock ‘N’ Roll

To make the most of a niche and add serious glam factor, interior designer Leslie Murphy of Memphis- and Nashville-based Murphy Maude Interiors created a wet bar with all the bells and whistles. “We measured for and ordered those laminate high-gloss cabinets to create the bar,” Leslie says. “I wanted to get that great floating shelf look.” The fact that her clients (and friends) were open to cutting-edge ideas was a big bonus. “They’re very edgy and funky and just the coolest people,” she adds. Case in point? Look closely at that wallpaper behind the bar. That’s not a frilly floral hanging out back there – it’s skulls.

Formerly an office space, this room’s moody color palette and use of reflective surfaces — from the bar appliances to the stemware to the acrylic coffee table — is now anything but utilitarian. Leslie and her clients were aiming for a “cool, lounge-y bar concept.” There’s a Visual Comfort chandelier in there, and, in fact, Leslie helped her clients source new lighting throughout the house. With glamorous lighting and glossy cabinetry and finishes, Leslie turned the space into “something a little bit more chic and sophisticated versus the typical run-of-the-mill sort of casual office space that it once was.” Mission accomplished.

creative spaces

This moody space is the epitome of “creative.” Image: Kristen Mayfield

Sometimes, Function Follows Form

This sunlit space was too big to serve as a walk-through, too small to really do its duty as a breakfast nook. So interior designer Caroline Lovelace, also of Murphy Maude Interiors, decided to view the room less as a challenge than an opportunity.

“This was originally a very small kitchen-slash-coffee area,” says designer Leslie Murphy. “They sit there and read the newspaper. These little cozy areas tend to be nice to make into something a little bit more intimate.”

The clients already had this show-stopping pedestal table, which wasn’t big enough for serious dining but was just right for perching at a party or lounging with a cup of coffee and a book. Instead of aiming for definitive function, Caroline focused on form, turning the space into a visual gem that invites various types of activity.

“Caroline was the genius behind creating the beautiful curtains that pull the table and chairs together and make the space into something a little bit more visually interesting,” Leslie says. “Sometimes a small space can really work to your benefit in design because you can get a lot of bang for your buck out of your fabrics, your trim. The elements that you use in a small space sometimes pop even more, wherein a large space they can get lost.” Leslie sites thee zig-zags on the leading edges of the drapery panels as an example. “If that had been done in a massive room, I don’t know that you’d feel the true impact and movement and energy that they bring.”

creative spaces

That pedestal table is to die for! Image: Sarah Rossi

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