Whether by choice or necessity, many of us live in small apartments. After all, spacious luxurious abodes cannot always be a viable choice for several reasons, especially if you live in the city. But a limited floor space is no excuse to not have a beautiful house. Small spaces have a lot of benefits and are easy to maintain. And they have immense hidden potential, to let you combine aesthetics with clutter-free layouts.
When designing a small space, floor space should be used efficiently and storage should be planned to blend in seamlessly with your home décor. There is no specific formula for designing a small home, but here are a few tips which might come in handy…
When your floor space is limited, pay extra attention to the walls and ceiling. Wall mounted shelves and furniture can keep the floor space free, and create the illusion of space. Even furniture that is wall mounted, such as a wall mounted console table or wall mounted sideboard, can make your room look larger by leaving the floor empty.
A high wrap-around shelf just under the ceiling is ideal for things like books that are visually heavy and need not be at hand always (unless you are a bookworm). In kitchens, such a shelf could be used to store extra groceries and appliances that are not used on a daily basis. In a house with an open floor plan, a series of shelves dropped down from the ceiling can be used for storage while acting as a divider at the same time.
When planning a furniture layout, corners often end up as dead spaces or get occupied by plants. But when designing a small space, you cannot afford to let any area lie unused. Create shelves in the corners to display curios and knick knacks. In small bedrooms, these corner shelves can also be used as bedside tables.
Corner shelves can also be designed to create a cosy reading nook or home office space. Curved or triangular shelves offer a change from the conventional square and rectanglular furnishings, and can also soften the room’s appearance. Glass is the most favoured material for these shelves as it blends in with the walls, and thus makes the room look airier. If you are using an alternate material for these shelves, consider painting them in the same colour as the walls.
One of the most important aspects of designing a small space is to use hidden spaces. One such space is the area behind doors. Use this space by installing hanging rods and hooks behind doors. If you cannot install them directly on the doors, consider over the door hooks and rods that hang over the top of the door. Similarly, the insides of kitchen cabinet doors can be used to store pan lids or ladles.
The door to the laundry room could have a folding ironing board installed behind it, so as to maximize space. Also look at the space on the wall that is hidden when the door opens. This space is a perfect spot for a few slim recessed shelves.
When it comes to furniture for small spaces, it is ideal to pick furniture with built in storage capacities. However, in some cases, this may not be an option. If you have a regular ‘four legged’ bed, don’t waste the space below the bed. Wheeled boxes or pull out drawers are the easiest way to make this space accessible.
You could also use the area under the bed to store luggage like suitcases etc., within which you could store extra linen or woolens for the winter. The space under the bed could also be used to store shoes, extra bed sheets, quilts, blankets and such.
Mirrors are an important interior design element to keep in mind when designing small spaces. Along with reflecting your beauty, mirrors also make a space look bigger and brighter than it is. Position a large mirror to reflect something interesting, or a window to make the most of it. If anchoring the mirror frame to the wall is an issue, you could also rest it on the floor or mantle so that it simply leans against the wall.
Placing a mirror behind a light source will increase the intensity of the light. Large mirrors also add an element of luxury to small homes. While every other interior design element you buy must be sized in direct proportion to the room, with mirrors, the larger it is, the better it will look. The highlight of this modish bathroom is the massive mirror above the sink, and the space was designed by Jigsaw Interior Architecture from Dorset.
If you have a choice between a small house with many tiny rooms and a small house with fewer large rooms, choose the latter. But still, some rooms can be too small to be actually used as bedrooms or dens. In such cases, turn it into a walk in wardrobe, a pantry or a storage room.
Giving these tiny spaces a function will ensure that they contain clutter, and will give you more free space in the rooms you actually use. For example, turning a small room into a closet will give you extra space in the bedroom that you could use to create a small, cosy reading nook for yourself.
When choosing furniture for a small space, the design and form are not the only aspects to be kept in mind. Furniture for small spaces should ideally play dual roles by incorporating storage within the design. Alternatively, it should be designed so as to use up minimal floor space. Foldable or convertible furniture such as Murphy beds are ideal for small spaces. For example, a room used as a study could also be a guest bedroom when the Murphy bed is pulled down. Also look at furniture that can expand and contract as per your needs. An example is a foldable dining table, which is also a wonderful space saving hack.
Lastly, pick a light colour palette for small space design as dark colours tend to make a space look cramped and depressing. The ‘less is more’ interior design philosophy also works well with small spaces. So, pick decorative pieces that you absolutely love, and let your space have an airy, uncluttered look.
Here’s another ideabook to get your creative juices flowing - Seven kinds of interiors that create a dirty and wrong impression of our houses.