Asheville’s love affair with Craftsman-style bungalows dates to the early 1900s. The modest, affordable homes could be built entirely from materials ordered from a catalog and were popular with working-class residents through the ’20s and beyond.
Bungalows are sought after today, thanks to their affordability and relatively easy maintenance. However, they tend to be of modest square footage — akin to that of a midsize apartment — making them difficult to decorate effectively. That’s where Asheville’s rich variety of specialty furniture galleries and shops comes in.
“My philosophy is that every piece must have not only beauty but function,” says Kim Hubbard, owner of k2 Studio (59 College St.). The business’s niche, she explains, is catering to people with problematic spaces. The store also promotes designs by local artists. “We do a lot of custom furniture — pieces that wouldn’t typically be in a commercial arena,” says Hubbard. “Dream it, and we can build it.”
Many of k2’s offerings can be tailored for smaller spaces. Hubbard says some of the sofas in the shop come in “apartment-sized” versions as well as the larger display models. She also suggests occasional chairs for smaller homes to maximize usage of space. “I think swivel chairs are really cool, too,” she says. “Especially in open-floor concepts, because that chair can act as a dominant chair at the head of a dining table, for instance, and then you turn it, and all of a sudden you’re in the living room — so it’s kind of two-for-one.”
Melissa Ness, a sales and design associate with Four Corners Home (1 Page Ave., inside the Grove Arcade) and sister shop Mobilia (43 Haywood St.), says that furniture layout can make or break the efficiency of a home, whether it’s a small apartment, a bungalow or a larger space. “Although using small-scale furniture is important, it’s not the only aspect to keep in mind when trying to maximize the space in small [homes],” she says.
Traffic pattern is also critical.
Both Four Corners Home and Mobilia offer in-home design consultations if simply going in and talking to associates is not enough. “We will design your space to make it extremely functional and absolutely fashionable,” says Ness.
As for other decorating tips, “Less is more when it comes to accessories,” she says. “One great piece of interest on a coffee table can often say a lot when it stands alone and isn’t competing with peers. Multifunctional furniture is always a plus, and area rugs can define a space if one room needs to function as two.”
The “less is more” philosophy applies to furnishings, wall decorations and other art in all aspects of decoration. Robert Nicholas, owner of Splurge (37 Paynes Way, Suite 003), says the important thing is not to blend in, but to stand up and be bold with your decorating.
“I think the key is to find one main-event piece,” he says. “Find a piece that you love, and your room will work around it.” When decorating, says Nicholas, you don’t need a lot of little things. If a large painting is positioned right in a room, that plus some furniture and soft light could be all that’s needed. Nicholas recommends large, mirror-type pieces to add warmth and make small spaces look bigger.
He also designs custom lighting for homes, noting that a light on a dimmer can easily adapt to changing needs, whether it’s soft accent lighting to accentuate a piece of art or bright light to play cards under.
“The other key thing — what we do, and what we represent — are things that are not mass-produced,” says Nicholas. “If you find something in here, chances are that you are the only one who is going to have it.”
Chris McMillan, owner of Dwellings (9 Reed St., Suite B), agrees about the importance of reducing the number of decorations. “Singular, larger-scale pieces tend to give a little cleaner look for small spaces,” he says. “Instead of small bits of artwork on the walls, one big piece kind of unifies a room. You’re seeing it more and more when it comes to design. There’s so much small space out there; it’s a much smarter idea.”
McMillan also favors decluttering a home to give it a clean look. Using cabinets for storage instead of open bookshelves, for example, keeps everything more focused. Having less for the eye to take in makes it easier for the brain to process a space, he says. “It gives you more of a Zen feeling in a room.”