Smart solutions for small spaces

Posted 1 February 2016 by Richenda Oldham

It's a sad but true fact that the average modern British home is shrinking...

According to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) some of the smallest three bedroom homes are missing space that is the equivalent of a double bedroom. 

While it is hoped that minimum sizes for new homes will be reviewed, so that 'rabbit hutch' new builds will be "a thing of the past" (according to RIBA president Jane Duncan), in the meantime, if you are the owner of a space constrained new home, just how can you tackle the lack of internal amenity? 

Without a doubt, the key to finding successful solutions is to plan, plan, plan. Look at your existing pieces of furniture and be ruthless in choosing what will work and what won't. It will pay dividends to invest in new multipurpose furniture that will suit your new, restricted spaces. Draw up a scale floor plan and start plotting in scale furniture measurements, to see what layouts fit the bill. 

Don't restrict to your vision to the footprint of each room. Instead, look upwards and think about overall volume of space. Maximising storage space in a small home is critical and you need to make the most of every square centimetre both vertically and horizontally. Overhead storage, space beneath a bed, corner space, behind or above doors, space beneath stairs, all can be exploited successfully, either by using bespoke solutions or off-the peg designs from specialist storage retailers.  

YOU modular furniture in Black LinearKeep the space flowing and try to avoid breaking up rooms into different areas. Some of the most successful interior designs for small spaces feature open plan living. Use of neutral background colours and flooring throughout your home, whether it's an apartment or a family house, will help create a feeling of space, but don't be afraid to use a bold colour in a small area, such as the kitchen, to create impact and inject personality. Mirrors, too, can really help to bounce light around and boost the feeling of space.  

When choosing furniture, go for multi-purpose designs such as corner sofas with storage within and a fold-out bed to boot (www.furniturechoice.co.uk's Maddox corner sofa). Or coffee tables that can convert to dining tables - keep folding chairs hung on pegs at the side of the room, ready to be used when you are entertaining. Pullout or fold down work surfaces or desks are excellent when you don't have enough rooms for a designated study/home office. 

But above all, the right kind of positive attitude will transform a small space into an attractive vibrant home, which works for you and not against you. Remember, small can be beautiful.  

Images: 

1 At the heart of this 785 sq ft apartment, designed by Neha Sha of Boscolo, is a cleverly designed open plan kitchen/dining/living space, which features accessories and fittings that perform dual roles, such as cork side tables that can be used for seating, and a drawer that pulls out as additional worktop space, www.boscolo.co.uk [Image credit: Christina Bull]

2 This tiny kitchen, tucked beneath the eaves of a London flat, is packed with spacing saving storage ideas, providing a workable solution that meets the challenges of the ceiling restrictions perfectly, www.roundhousedesign.com 

3 A bed that doubles up as an ottoman, is just the answer for small bedroom spaces with no room for other furniture. The bed base can be easily raised thanks to a gas lift, Arran Oak ottoman storage bed, £474 for a double, www.time4sleep 

4 Even if space is tight, you don't need to sacrifice style for the sake of layout. There are plenty of reduced depth sanitaryware products, which come in modular designs that retain the drama of stand-alone products, YOU modular furniture in Black Linear, basin £395, toilet unit (including cistern) £649, soft close seat back to wall pan, £410, www.utopiagroup.com 

5 This sleek, chic coffee table is actually a versatile multi-extending, design that grows to become a dining table that can seat 8-10 people and is height adjustable, Multi coffee table, 120cm (length) x 75cm (width) x 25cm (height) (unextended), 220cm long (fully extended), £1,695, www.furl.co.uk    

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