Living in a big city all too often means living small. Tiny, even. Of course we city dwellers would LOVE more space, but that comes at a cost, a huge cost.
Developers are building smaller and smaller, calling these new homes ‘micro apartments’ and ‘pods’. Future urban living undoubtedly sees us sharing spaces more and more, like communal living and dining spaces – architects are currently creating interesting concepts and studies to test these arrangements.
Many of us would find adapting to that way of living a very difficult task, but for now, most of us are still lucky enough to have our own ‘complete’ apartments, so we have to make to most of it. More and more people are actually intentionally choosing smaller spaces - to have less stuff in their lives, and to live more simply. I can really see the appeal, but how does it work in reality?
We have been renting a small flat in North London since April – as we wait for our house build to begin – and it has been a challenge! Not that any of our previous properties have been huge by any means, but making the adjustment from a larger to a smaller space can be very tricky, especially with a nearly-four-year-old in tow! It mainly means being really ruthless with clearing out, and it also makes you realise how much stuff you have, that you don’t really need to keep.
I’m always interested to see how different people live in, arrange, and style their small spaces. Even the high street has caught on, with John Lewis, Habitat and West Elm, amongst others, all now offering Small Space ranges.
If you live in a small space and want to eek out the best from every little corner, check out this list of clever little tricks I’ve put together for some small space magic!
Once you’ve conquered your clear-out, you’ll need somewhere to put all the things you’ve decided to keep. My absolute number one for small space living is storage. If you can afford to steal just 30 or 40 centimetres to add a wall of floor to ceiling storage, this will change your life! You will be able to hide all manner of sins in this space. If your room is extra tiny, try to avoid doors that open up into the space, as this could make it feel even more cramped, opt instead for sliding doors or open shelving (if you’re a neat freak)!
If you think you can hack open shelving, it does increase the feeling of space, and if extended from wall to wall or floor to ceiling, it also creates the illusion of width and height in the room. And if you can keep it tidy – a bonus is the striking focal point it will create in your home.
Two. Flexible Furniture.
Mirrors that become tables. Sofas that become beds. Make every single piece work hard for its keep. Also, choose pieces that are raised off the floor on slender legs, when you can see the floor underneath the furniture, it creates a sense of spaciousness. Even a simple ottoman or stool can multi-task –use it as a coffee table, footrest, or for extra seating when you have guests. Storage comes into it again here too, find pieces that double up with hidden storage, like benches and chests.
Check out this clever fold out table from Magnet:
You can have fun here, just because you have a small space doesn’t mean you have to have dolls house furniture. Try choosing one knock-out piece – a large comfy sofa for example, and then mixing in smaller scale or slim profile items as well. Or if you are lucky enough to have high ceilings, choose large statement lighting.
This can also be achieved on details like tiles, choosing large format tiles for a small space is another good trick – small scale tiles can make a small space appear too fussy and cluttered.
Another good trick to make your room seem taller, is to draw the eye upwards, you can do this with tall pieces like floor lamps, artwork and storage.
This is particularly important if you live in an open-plan studio, use rugs or furniture placement to create natural zoned areas. Open shelving and folding screens are also really effective for this purpose as the don’t obstruct those all-important sight lines.
Five. Pattern and Statement Walls
Use pattern to your advantage in a small area, we all know horizontal stripes make things appear wider, so if you're feeling brave, try out the look below.
I’ve always loved the idea of using a bold, crazy wallpaper all over in a petite WC. It’s the perfect art of distraction, you’ll be so taken by the wallpaper – you’ll forget the size of the room!
Six. Glass and Mirrors.
Ah this old trick. It’s an oldie but a goodie.
Transparent furniture is great for small spaces as they don’t add visual clutter.
A glass coffee table or a ghost chairs would be great additions to small space living – those sight lines again!
In a small space, mirrors are your best friend. Strategically placed, they can make a huge difference. For some really good tips on how to use mirrors, have a look at this article on Apartment Therapy for 5 Smart Ways To Use Mirrors In Small Spaces.