How to maximise space in your home
PUBLISHED: 06:33 28 May 2020
If you feel like your home is bursting at the seams, try these crafty storage solutions to create some much-needed extra space
Whether it’s due to expanding families or changing living habits (or experiencing lockdown), we’ve all wanted a bit of extra space in our homes at times: some days the kitchen just doesn’t feel big enough for everyone to gather in, that spare room really is on the cosy side, and the hallway is just too cluttered for the dog and pushchair to fit through at the same time. In fact, recent research carried out by LABC Warranty has revealed that Britain’s houses have never been smaller, with houses built from 2010 onwards being over 4m2 smaller compared to those built in the previous decade. So-called ‘shoebox homes’ are becoming the norm, and new builds seem to be getting more and more compact by the minute, so it’s no wonder we’re all feeling in need of a bit more breathing space.
If moving to a new house isn’t an option, and if you don’t fancy the hassle, stress and expenses of an extension or loft conversion, the easiest solution can be to simply make the most of what you’ve got. A space might seem small and unusable, but with the right furniture choices and interior design tricks, it can be transformed beyond recognition. Here’s how you can truly maximise any space you currently have.
Setting the tone
The first thing to take into consideration when trying to maximise space is colour, since the right paint choice and accessories can have the effect of brightening a room and creating the illusion that it is bigger than it really is. ‘When it comes to wall colours, light and bright paint palettes will make a room look bigger and brighter,’ suggests Sam Hood, founder and creative director at Amara (amara.com), a leading home interiors online retailer. ‘Whites and creams reflect the light in a room, making it feel more open and airier, but make sure you use warmer tones of white than a blue cold base. Mirror these pale wall paints with similar-coloured soft furnishings to extend the illusion.’
Although it can be tempting to employ darker colours to create a cosy setting, this can have the adverse effect of making an already small room seem even more cluttered and it could also mean that any natural light is absorbed. ‘They often advise embracing dark colours in small spaces, to create a moody look, but speaking from experience of painting our own small bathroom a very dark blue and hating it, it can really swallow any space you have,’ reflects Fiona Duffy. She is one half of the successful interiors blog Fifi McGee (fifmcgee.co.uk), which documents her and her fiancé Neil’s journey to renovate a 1930s property.
A moment for reflection
Another clever optical illusion is to hang mirrors on the walls, since this will effectively double the space visually. A mirror, combined with a neutral colour palette, will also allow light to flood through your home as much as possible, which is crucial when you want to make a space seem open and flowing. ‘If your window dressing is a dark and oppressive colour, or if your curtains are obstructing your windows, it limits the natural light entering the room,’ adds Fiona. ‘So, opt for a lighter fabric window dressing that is easily pushed either side to let the light in.’
Big isn’t always best
When it comes to the furniture itself, steer away from dark, clunky pieces; a big dining table can seem like a good idea, but most of the time it will simply be taking up space whilst not really serving a purpose, so choose bar stools or an extendable option instead. ‘Living room space can easily be freed up by trading in a large sofa for smaller chairs that are proportional to the size of the room,’ suggests Sam. ‘Swapping larger armchairs for stools is also a great option, as they can easily be manoeuvred and stowed away under coffee tables when they’re not needed.’
Go for clever furniture designs with built-in storage too, such as an ottoman bed and a desk with drawers, or choose a sofa-bed for the living room so that this can also be used to accommodate guests. ‘Day beds are a great way to maximise space in a bedroom,’ says Fiona. Nesting tables are another good option.
Climbing the walls
If you think your home doesn’t have much built-in storage, think again. The walls themselves can offer a huge amount of space, which can be utilised through shelves, wall-mounted lights and hanging furniture designs. This can be particularly helpful in the kitchen, as Sam explains. ‘Using wall hooks, such as our A by Amara Cane Towel Hooks, is a great way to free up space on kitchen units. These can be used to hang spoons, kitchen towels and even smaller pots and pans,’ she says.
Don’t be afraid to think vertically, either. Towering bookshelves that span from the floor to ceiling can look striking, or if you’re a dab hand at DIY, use an old ladder to create a sleek shelving unit. Supposedly dead spaces, such as under the stairs or above doors, can also be transformed with bespoke-made shelves.
The outside world
Don’t forget that your garden offers plenty of useable space too. Invest in a shed or summerhouse for a simple way to reduce some of the clutter from inside the house, and there are plenty of outdoor shelving units and coffee tables on the market now. Not only do these look stylish come the summer months, but they’re a clever storage solution too. Bringing the outdoors in can also be a good idea; house plants add light and air into an otherwise dark room, and they’re good for our mental and physical wellbeing too.
It’s easy to look at a room and write it off as being small and unworkable, but sometimes all it takes is a fresh new perspective and a bit of creativity.