Bigger isn’t automatically better. For one thing, having a smaller house means less housework to keep it clean! But it can be challenging when it comes to fitting in the things you need and love. If you have small rooms, here are a few of our favourite ways to make the most of your limited space and/or make the room feel bigger.
Don’t let any space go unused
Walls, under things, in between things, behind doors, beneath the stairs…when pressed for space to put things you’ll be amazed how creative you can get. If it’s too small for furniture, is it big enough for shelves or some storage?
Think up, not out
Walls offer ample storage opportunities. Floating shelves, extra-tall bookshelves or rails with hanging baskets on the wall makes space for plenty of things, keeping the room neat and tidy. Display the things you love, hide clutter in decorative baskets, boxes and buckets.
Use wall lighting instead of table or floor lamps.
Mount the flat screen TV on the wall.
Double duty furniture
Clutter takes up space and quickly draws the eye. It’s not something you want to have on display on shelves so find furniture with built in storage capacity, eg an ottoman or bed with drawers in the base.
If your entire home is smaller than average, try and find double purpose for the rooms that aren’t used all the time. For example, a guest bedroom easily doubles as the home office or a craft room.
Sofa beds and trundler beds are still found in many NZ homes. They’re a handy item, providing a place to sleep when needed without taking up too much space. Another option is a foldaway bed; they’ve come leaps and bounds over the years and are now quite stylish and comfortable. Check out the range from Tiltawaybeds.
It would be at the expense of a storage cupboard but as discussed above, smart use of walls and other small spaces takes care of that.
Keep it light
When working with a small space, it’s all about perception, making it seem bigger. Light plays a big part in achieving this. Natural light is a small space’s best friend so maximise what is coming into your small room by having as little of the windows obscured as possible. Roller blinds are good for this.
Don’t use dark colours, opt for light to brighten the mood. Light colours are also better for bouncing the natural light around the room.
Add a mirror
One of the best (and easiest) design tricks is using mirrors to visually expand small spaces. Place them on the wall opposite your window to reflect and spread the light, or have one on one side of the room and the other directly opposite; the eternal reflections create the perception of huge amounts of space.
Work those window treatments
As mentioned before, roller blinds are good for ensuring none of the natural light is blocked coming through the window. But they’re not the only option: run your curtains from ceiling to floor. Normally, the curtain rod or rail would be mounted around 4-6 inches above the frame, or halfway between the frame and the ceiling. Opting for taller curtains will draw the eye up, making the ceilings feel much higher and the room bigger overall.
Think about scale
If your current furniture is too big for your small room no amount of clever tricks and smart storage is going to help. You may need to change your furniture so it’s the right scale for the room. For example, exchange your full-size couch for a settee or two-seater. Coffee table too big? What about two smaller ones that can easily be moved around as needed.
Create space beyond the furniture
With limited space in a small room it’s tempting to push all the furniture to the walls, but all you’re doing there is highlighting the space you don’t have. Increase the perceived size of the space by carefully arranging your furniture slightly more centrally, creating spaces around it.
Built in seating
In the kitchen/dining area, instead of finding room to place four or more chairs around a table, build permanent bench seating around a corner. You’ll still need a couple of chairs on the side without the bench but you’ll save on space when feeding a crowd as you can slide the table in close to the wall, out of the way.
Same colour, different shade
Trim and ceiling have as much impact as the walls; tie them in with the rest of the space so they don’t stand out too much. Paint them the same colour as the walls only in different shades, lighter for the ceiling and slightly darker for the trim.
No matter how many smart storage solutions you incorporate, if you have too much stuff you won’t find a place for it. Evaluate your belongings and rid yourself of useless objects that do nothing other than take up space. Some people find this difficult to do because they items we hold onto have sentimental value. But think about this, not having the “thing” doesn’t erase the memories you associate with it so don’t be afraid to throw things away. If it really is hard, take photos of the things to help preserve the memory.
Keeping track of your budget
It’s possible that renovations might be needed to get your small space ready to be amazing and clever. We have something to help with that - download our budget planning spreadsheet to help make the process easy and keep track of your spending. It’s easy to use and has a number of items already listed to get you thinking about what you might need.