Area: Compact Chic

European style for smaller spaces

Category: NW Home Articles


Whenever I head to Europe, I pack a tape measure. I’m always on the hunt for great antiques, and, these days, I’m often searching for one-of-a-kind pieces that work well in small spaces. Many who are downsizing from larger suburban homes to urban condos feel challenged when it comes to small-scale design.

How does one create a setting that’s functional as well as beautiful? Consider adding a touch of European elegance. Create warm, inviting rooms layered with unique furnishings, rich fabrics and unusual objects. Imagine a well appointed flat in London, a fashionable Parisian pied-à-terre or a chic, modern Milanese apartment. Mix small tables and chests in varied woods with upholstered pieces in contrasting fabrics. An ottoman or footstool can double as a tray table when entertaining. Soft mood lighting adds a luminous, romantic glow. A patterned area rug will visually anchor any arrangement, and contrasting throw-pillows pack a colorful punch. A floor-screen will elegantly enhance a small space, while an oversized mirror adds great depth and drama.

Baker's chicly compact "Paris" club chair

Don’t be afraid of contrasts. A sleek, transitional style console table provides an ideal surface for a collection of 19th-century gilt-bronze vases. Similarly, a modern abstract painting can be perfectly paired with an ornate, inlaid antique credenza. Carefully stacked travel books and art museum catalogues help complete the look.

To experience an elegantly petite European-inspired condo, tour the model units for The Bravern Signature Residences (Bellevue; 425.452.3788;, set to open in 2010.

Designed by Masins, one unit features an open floor plan, with a décor that blends both classic European and contemporary Northwest styles, and all will have easy access to The Shops at The Bravern (including Neiman-Marcus, Louis Vuitton and Hermès). Now that’s what I call upscale small living. :


John Stevens ( is owner of the new Regents House galleries inside Masins fine furniture stores.