Spectacular Small Spaces

Syosset native David Jonathan Massa criss-crossed the country during his 25 years as a designer, beautifying homes in upstate New York and out west in California and Seattle. Now his Port Washington-based architecture firm specializes in making small homes feel grand.

Long Island Pulse: What can you do to infuse luxury into a master suite?
David Jonathan Massa:
I like borrowing elements from a big house and scaling them down for a smaller one, like adding an entry foyer to a master bedroom. In a bedroom that is at least 12-by-14 feet, you can dedicate a three-by-three-foot space to announce the sleeping area. I often steal this space from the hall outside the bedroom. Put a door in front of it, then finish the foyer with a wall treatment or paint color, flooring and lighting that is distinct from the bedroom.

LIP: How do you punch up common areas on a budget?
Keep things in the proper scale. The worst thing you can do is use skimpy molding. I typically wouldn’t use baseboards shorter than 3½ inches. For a typical eight-foot wall the base molding should be 3½ to 6 inches tall and the crown shouldn’t be more than six inches tall. If the budget doesn’t allow for molding in every room, use it in the entry foyer or hall where it makes the biggest impression.

LIP: What’s an easy way to up the luxurious feel of a small kitchen?
One important element is lighting, which you can break up into three categories. The first layer is general lighting from a recessed can in the ceiling, then maybe a pendant over an island or peninsula for task lighting and finally ambient lighting under the upper cabinets. Having layers of light, each on their own control, immediately gives the kitchen an element of luxury.

LIP: Countertops and cabinets eat up a lot of a kitchen’s budget, how do you get the most out of them?
On a tight budget go with painted cabinets. What you save by not buying stain-grade cherry, oak or mahogany allows you to splurge on a more decorative door front. A good rule of thumb is to contrast the colors of the countertop and the cabinets so the countertop appears to float above the cabinetry.

Design Tip:
Infuse some instant visual spark to a bathroom by splurging on a glass tile chair rail. Keep it to about 40 inches off the floor, or just under a window, then tile the wall below it with less expensive field tile.