Big Ideas for Tiny Spaces

Published in the Register-Guard’s Home & Garden section on January 8, 2016.

Salvage and DIY expert Shannon Quimby shares tips on making the most of outdoor and tiny spaces.

by Vanessa Salvia

Shannon Quimby. Photo courtesy of Shannon Quimby.

Shannon Quimby. Photo courtesy of Shannon Quimby.

In many small homes and apartments, adequate square footage is a luxury. But with inspired color, style and space-saving ideas, any indoor or outdoor space can become a welcome addition to the household.

Portland salvage and DIY expert Shannon Quimby shares projects based on this philosophy, and better still, she specializes in re-use, so your budget can stay intact.

Quimby will be a featured speaker at the Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show Jan. 22-24 at the Lane County Convention Center, 796 W. 13th Ave., in Eugene.

Her presentations during all three days of the show will focus on small-space design and outdoor living.

Unlike some DIY projects that require a workshop full of tools and skills the average person is not likely to have, Quimby’s projects are easily accessible.

“I’m never going to say, ‘Grab the hood of your ’57 Chevy and let’s make a barbecue,” she says with a laugh. “Because I already lost you. But if I say, ‘Hey, grab the wire hanger that came home from the cleaners and we’ll use it to attach something,’ people can do that.”

Quimby laughs a lot when talking about her design projects, and it’s partly out of enthusiasm to share her tips about making beautiful things that don’t cost a fortune.

“I’m going to be showing how you can do it without spending a lot of money because that’s what I’m all about. I do not like spending a lot of money,” she says with another laugh and with strong emphasis on the word “not.”

“It drives me crazy! If you want to, you can go buy some big, expensive thing, or you can figure out what you already have and change it up.”


Functional beauty

One talk, called “Small Space, Big Design,” will complement a display the show is planning on tiny homes. Quimby will discuss the challenge many people face of a small room or unusable closet that needs help. “I’m showing people what they can do and how they can visually and functionally increase the space that they currently have,” she says. “How you can increase your square footage without losing the functionality.”

The presentation is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 24, at 11:30 a.m.

Quimby is a designer for HGTV and a field editor for Meredith publications, which includes Better Homes & Gardens and special interest magazines such as Flea Market Style, Cottage Style, Country Home, Do It Yourself and Outdoor Living. She has produced hundreds of projects and has more in the works at all times.

“I’ll share storage ideas, lighting, color, multipurpose and functional furniture pieces you can bring into your space to increase your space without tearing down a wall,” she says. Quimby also breaks some design rules that she feels limit potential. “Don’t be afraid to use big, bold colors, and just because you have a small room doesn’t mean you have to go with small furniture.”

Outdoor salvage décor

Her second talk, “Salvage Design and Decor,” is all about making the most of an outdoor area. It is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 23 at 11:30 a.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 24 at 2:30 p.m.

“Living in the Pacific Northwest, that can be a challenge,” Quimby acknowledges. “How can we expand our months outside? I’m going to be showing how to repurpose salvage items, stuff that you have laying in the ga

Big ideas for tiny spaces. Photo courtesy of Shannon Quimby.

Big ideas for tiny spaces. Photo courtesy of Shannon Quimby.

rage, things like that that you can bring inside and out.”

For instance, if the garage is sheltering an old door and perhaps a pair of sawhorses, all they need is a coat of paint to become a serving table or prep surface. One of her recent Flea Market Style projects utilizes a blanket or canvas dropcloth and bamboo stakes to become a billowy tent covering a table.

“It was so easy!” Quimby enthuses. “And the cost … I think the whole thing cost me under $15 because I used a blanket I already had and I did it in an hour. And that’s why I’m really excited to show people these projects, because a lot of these are no-brainer things.”

Quimby is once again planning on using her marshmallow catapults to give the audience a chance to win giveaways. She’s also bringing two dressers that she spiffed up. Money raised on the dressers will be donated to ShelterBox, a worldwide charity that delivers emergency shelter to people affected by disaster.

Quimby spends her days engrossed in DIY projects, but she recognizes that it can be difficult for some people to envision how an item can be reused. To overcome that, she encourages people to explore what other people have done and to use their imagination as they walk through their own home and garage to rethink what things can be.

For instance, she says, remove “labels” of what something is supposed to be used for. “Look at that curtain and say, ‘OK, all it is is fabric.’ Get rid of the word ‘curtain’ and it’s just fabric, so, boom. How many things can you do with fabric?”

Writer Vanessa Salvia can be contacted at

Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show
Friday-Sunday, Jan. 22-24, Lane Events Center at the fairgrounds, 796 W. 13th Ave. in Eugene.
Hours: Friday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free parking and free admission with canned food donations for FOOD for Lane County


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