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Designer Matthew Bees Gets It Done In 350 Square Feet

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[HouseBeautiful]

This month's issue of House Beautiful profiles Matthew Bees, owner of Niche Interiors, for their regular feature on up and coming designers. He divides his time between DC and Charleston, SC, but when in DC he lives in Georgetown condo that was built in 1803. The DC condo is a lesson in how to make a small space have as much stunning personality as possible. By painting the majority of the unit in one shade—a striking green—Bees is able to make the space feel bigger and have the color act as a backdrop to his fine furnishings (the Dorothy Draper piece, for example). After the jump Bees lists a few tips he has picked up for saving space and shows off a few outtakes from the photo shoot.

1) Be organized! I use great fabric covered bins to store lots of items. I have six large bins that look fabulous all lined up in the top of my closet. They hold everything from sweaters, office supplies to toiletries.

2) Case pieces don't necessarily have to hold clothing. I have a great Dorothy Draper chest in my entry. It has a bar set up on top. The first drawer holds all my silverware and serving needs. The second is stationary, candles and party supplies. The third (and most used) is full of my tools. I have them all organized so they are easy to grab. Also, don't be afraid of a large case piece in a small space. I have a period chest on chest that has tons of storage. It is what these pieces were intended for! [Note: a close-up of the dresser can be seen in the gallery below]

3) Paint out the space! Paint the ceiling, trim, walls and doors the same shade and don't be timid about deeper tones. I am in 350 square feet and everything is washed in a deep green (Benjamin Moore rainforest foliage) It just opens the space up and makes it feel so much larger! It's a visual trick I use often.

4) Don't use draperies! I know it may be hard but draperies take up anywhere from 6-10" of space from a room. Instead have custom shades made to fit inside the window casing in a fabric that you really love. I even had mine lined with "black out" lining which allows me to sleep in when I want to.

5) Find pieces that can work double or triple duty. I have a American Empire center table that not only looks great but can serve as a dining table and coffee table as well. My desk has seating on both sides and can be a dining table for two or even a buffet when I'm having friends over for cocktails.

Here are some outtakes from the House Beautiful shoot that show just how Bees arranges the furniture in such a small space. The close-up of Bees in front of the bookcase also gives a glimpse of some of the book titles he spends precious square inches on. And the delicate Dorothy Draper piece is on display hiding the tools Bees uses frequently.

· House Beautiful [OfficialSite]