Tailor-made furniture, With Sophie Bowers of Strutt Studios
In small spaces, a functionally driven, permanent piece of furniture is often the best solution to address the lack of space and lack of storage, and avoid an enclosed feeling.
There are three commonly used inbuilt furniture pieces. These include banquette seats or plinth lounges, fireplace and shelving units, and TV credenzas.
In small space design, you need to maximise the use of the walls. Therefore building in a joinery unit that can incorporate some or many of these seating, storing and displaying functions is a seamless way to get more from a minimal footprint.
Simple ideas like building storage to the ceiling will increase the perception of height in any room. Also consider incorporating feature handles or feet/legs to your inbuilt seating, this customisation is a great way to showcase your personality whilst allowing the bulk of the joinery design to remain simple, and thus not overwhelm a small room. Wall mounted shelving as a stand-alone feature or incorporated into a fireplace or TV storage unit is another way to draw the eye upwards, as nothing makes a space feel more enclosed than a cluttered benchtop or table.
The success of my own small apartment heavily relied on the spaces being dual purpose, and in the kitchen zone, an inbuilt banquette seat was the perfect way to achieve this. To create a minimal look, the junction at the kitchen and dining area is a very subtle detail with the waterfall stone seamlessly continuing from benchtop to banquette seat. This created a highly functional merge for us between the kitchen and dining, which often becomes the heart of the home, especially when entertaining. The inclusion of drawers below the banquette seat added significant storage, and by mounting the backrest cushion to the wall, a light and clean look was attained.
Considered and clever inbuilt furniture solutions prove bigger isn’t always better when it comes to a room’s footprint size.
Living Large In A Studio Apartment, With Alex Kennedy
Despite being an open studio plan, this apartment also has clearly defined spaces. For example, having a step up to the bedroom makes it feel cosy and separate from the rest of the house.
In terms of tips and tricks to make living in a small space work… don’t have lots of tall friends. Just kidding, I have lots of tall friends who at times have had to do a bit of limbo around the lights.
But on a serious note, I suggest not to over-design a space. Small spaces need generous storage, but I see a lot of houses are almost over-designed, and don’t allow you to grow into them organically, or allow for flexibility of use. I think it’s important to think about all of the different ways you might inhabit a space over time – it might go from being your home, to an Airbnb, to a studio. So, I think flexibility is key. For example, I have a dining table that folds out, so I’ve been able to have up to 10 people for dinner and then fold it back and move to the side to make way for a mini dance floor after dinner!
Over the last few years I have fixed up the garden and changed some of my furniture and household items that I know I will have for the rest of my life. I have a rule of not owning anything I can see in my space that I don’t find visually pleasing. This has meant I have had to implement a pretty strong policy with my family of not giving me household items for Christmas or my birthday!
See Alex’s home tour on TDF here.
Styling a Small Space, With Lynda Gardener
I have always enjoyed working on small places, as they can be a challenge at the best of times! I always start with painting the space white. It creates a blank canvas and always gives an instant feeling of space and light. Always consider the entire feel from the moment you walk in the door and the flow of the space. Keep it to a few simple tones and colours – a natural/neutral or earthy palette does not date.
That being said, you don’t need to be a minimalist just because your space is small! Collections can still be included – they just need to be considered. I love to create walls of art, and feature a mix of old and new as it does not take up any floor space, and there is always a great feature wall to work on. Or if you can have shelves, use lots of them to create a library to house not only your books, but also make displays for art and object collections! Get creative and hang functional items like brooms, and baskets from hooks on the wall – again, no floor space is sacrificed.
If the space lends itself, create a centerpiece that is the WOW in the room….for example in Room + Board, I used a large round table as a showpiece for my collections… foliage, books and so on as well as a table to eat around.
For a striking way to warm up a room, get creative and hang something special low (next to the bed, for example).
See Lynda’s accommodation Room + Board on TDF here.
Get in The Zone, with Lisa Marie Corso
In an apartment, I like having distinct ‘zones’, even if the dining and living area is open plan. The easiest way to do this is to shove a rug under a coffee table, and there you have, it: a living room. When your foot touches the rug, know you’re in the couch zone.
Working from home, aka the three words petitioning for a joint place in the 2020 dictionary, in a small space can be tricky. If you have a spare room, try your best to work there during work hours, and when you clock off, shut the door! It’s very easy to feel like you’re working where you sleep, so again, making some ‘zones’ might help you.
If your dinner table has pivoted to become your desk, clear it in the morning when you start work, and remove your work stuff from it when you finish. No, sliding your laptop across table does not count! I think throwing a table cloth on for dinner can really make you feel like it’s a new part of the day, and help you forget you just spent 8 hours Zooming on the same table.
See Lisa’s home tour on TDF here.