How to Optimise a Small Space

Friday, March 20th, 2015
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As cities become denser and living spaces become smaller, it is crucial to know how to make the most of limited space.

The need for high-density housing options is increasing. There is no denying that Australian cities are going through a major physical change. Already 25.8 per cent of Sydney’s households are living in apartments, according to Urban Taskforce Australia.

More and more people are choosing to live in low maintenance apartments rather than big houses for various reasons: simplifying their lifestyle, saving money on furnishings, appliances and energy, gaining more time for travelling and hobbies, or downsizing to start a new chapter of their life.

Small spaces require clever space management and room layouts. Here are some tips and ideas how to make a small space look larger:

1. Manipulate a Space Through Colour

Colour is the most powerful tool when it comes to non-verbal communication. It is the design element that can most readily change a space immediately. A different colour on the walls can completely change the atmosphere of a space, and colour as a whole brings individuality to a space and it stands as one of the most useful tools to master when decorating.

Pick colours that instantly speak to you. See if you can match your favourite colours to colours you have found in nature or during discovery tours. When choosing a colour, it is important to think about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve in a space. Colour can stimulate us or evoke feelings of calmness and serenity, and they can remind us of past events throughout our lives.

Depending on the size and shape of a room and the height of its ceilings, there are different methods that can be used to manipulate the room through paint colour.

To make a small space look larger, use light tones of your chosen colour on all surfaces, including the floor, walls and ceiling. This ensures that the most light possible will be reflected. If the apartment has a dark floor, work with area rugs in light tones of your chosen colour scheme.

Cool colours in light tones recede, which means that a wall painted in a cool colour will seem further away and make the space look larger. Conversely, walls painted in warm colours and darker tones will advance and make the space look smaller.

To raise a ceiling, use a colour that is a lighter tone than the wall colour and paint the walls right up to the ceiling.

To widen a corridor, use light tones of your chosen colour on all surfaces to maximise the light reflection and make the space less confining.

Conversely, to shorten a long hallway or a long narrow room, paint the end wall in a warm colour and a darker tone to make it advance. To change the proportions in a long corridor or long narrow room, use darker tones on the floor and ceiling. This will make the space appear lower and wider.

What applies to paint colours is also valid for colours in decoration. An all-white or neutral interior can be brought to life with the colours selected for decorative items like rugs, cushions, throws, art, accessories and flowers.

2. Implement Intelligent Design

Good design will always add value to an apartment. Depending on your needs, look for intelligent design solutions. Think of storage wall units in the living area to hide the TV when not in use. This is my favourite solution to not let a big black screen take over the living area and automatically become the room’s focal point.

Design dining areas with stylish tables that come in different sizes, shapes and colours. Use an extension table as a flexible solution.

Research wall-hung display and storage units. Everything mounted on the wall will increase floor space. Wall hung units can be used in living areas, bedrooms and bathrooms.

Sideboards are elegant, functional and great for storage in any room. Hide things in drawers and behind doors and create eye-catching vignettes featuring favourite items on top.

Look for furniture companies specialising in apartment furniture, which offer clever and versatile pieces many people may not think of.

3. Source Clever Furniture

Furniture for small spaces needs to be stylish and practical. The trick is to find a versatile piece that can be used for different purposes.

Look for furniture that can be used as a standalone piece, or be used in combination with other pieces for a different purpose. For example, timber or upholstered cubes can be used as tables, footstools or additional seating. When arranged as a set of four in a larger square, they also make a great coffee table by adding a tray on top. In no time, a living area can be transformed to meet any need. Additionally, these cubes are stylish decorative pieces to play around with colours, textures and materials to coordinate with any interior.

apartment furniture

4. Focus on the Floor

A very simple method to make a space look larger is using the same flooring throughout the whole apartment. Especially in open-plan living areas, a single finish from the entrance through the living and dining area will widen the space. This will additionally be enhanced by continuing the chosen finish to the outside entertainment area. There is a huge choice of floor tiles with indoor and outdoor versions available.

Timber tiles are also very popular as they add the warmth of the timber look to a space and can be used in the kitchen as well.

apartment floorplan

5. Decorate like a Pro

In decorating your home, you can unleash your creativity! Get inspired by interior designers from all over the world. Research design blogs and follow the ones that speak to you. Browse design departments in large bookstores to dive in the realm of interiors.

Most interior designers love to share their work and inspirations. Borrow the things you like and implement them in your own home, with your modifications. Check out Kit Kemp’s famous design hotels for inspiration to layer colour and pattern.

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