SWATCHED 2017 Winner

Ellen Miller - Elbowroom: Small Space Solutions
Photography by Nicole Larson

Ellen Miller decided to study interior design after downsizing from a house to a studio apartment. When the New York native relocated back to her home state after decades in Ohio, she found herself with 20 percent of the living space she had been used to. The transition from a house to a small apartment came with many  challenges on how to best utilize the space without feeling cramped and still honoring her sense of style.

“I knew I would have to get creative.”

Elbowroom: Small Space Solutions was born almost immediately upon her return as she started to transform her own 300 square-foot space first and utilized several different trials to figure out exactly what works and doesn't work in a small space and why.

“There is something so rewarding about filling up a space with only things you love and things that really make sense. I realized I wanted to do this for other people in the same situation. New York is filled with small living spaces and helping people in that overall journey to a lighter life has really become my specialty,” said Miller.

This inspired her to focus on solutions for small spaces. Miller believes that good things do come in small packages and that a space doesn’t have to be big for it to be functional and welcoming. She creates spaces that are as unique as her clients and spends a lot of time getting to know them before proceeding.

“It’s important to really understand the design esthetic of your client and take into consideration the functionality of the space and marry the two together. Just because a space is small doesn’t mean it can’t be filled with personality.”

Shown are recent design projects she completed in Long Beach, NY. One is a 500 square foot one bedroom apartment with an ocean view; the other, a 300 square foot studio which needed an entertainment, sleeping and workspace.

“Participating in the 2nd ­annual SWATCHED competition held by IDS was a lot of fun!” exclaimed Miller. “It was chaotic and exhilarating being around all that creative energy.” 

Her vision board depicted a children’s room and took first place.

Each designer was given the same four mystery items: a brown tile, a slice of agate, a piece of fabric and a silver chain. “Initially I found the color palette to be challenging for the children’s room I was assigned,” says Miller. “I realized in my everyday working with clients there are many times I have to work with what they have, so I switched my mindset from challenging objects to inspiring ones. There were so many gorgeous boards and so many talented designers. I am very flattered to have won.”