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How To Work With Small Spaces

Much of the challenge of working out how to style a property is in its size. In a large property, space needs to be properly utilised so as to not create bare and awkward areas that are cold, dark or empty, but also to make sure the interior reflects the size of the property in terms of who will be living there and its target market - a large 4-bed property aimed at affluent families would need more than a single two-seater sofa and an armchair in the lounge, for example. Different but equally important factors come into play when deciding how a small property should look. It needs to be livable in the sense that it has plenty of space where necessary and isn't too crowded or overwhelming. We also need to try to add personality with limited space, according to the client's target market/preferences or the location/architectural style of the property. This blog post outlines what tools we use as interior designers to get the most out of a small space and also provides you with some handy tips on how to do the same in your own home!

How we work with small spaces as interior designers

With any interior design quote, we first start with the dimensions of the property which we receive from a property developer in the form of architectural plans/drawings or, as is often the case with private residential interior design, we carry out a face-to-face consultation at the client's property where we measure all the interior walls, height and width of windows and doorways ourselves. We use these dimensions to create a basic floorplan where we can visualise what can and cannot fit in the property. Maybe the dining room is only big enough for a 4-seater dining table. Maybe the property is large and targeted towards affluent buyers who may want to host social gatherings (COVID-19 restrictions permitting, of course) in which case a 6-seater dining table and sideboard/drinks cabinet may be necessary. If required, we can also use these to create a 3D CAD visualisation of the property where we can virtually place to-scale items of furniture to give ourselves and the client a better feeling for what certain items will look like and how the interior will flow. This is especially useful as we can take images at eye-level with an accurate field of view so the client gets a true-to-life feel for the finished project.

We use our extensive list of trade-only suppliers to find the perfect products and make sure they fit physically. We can also take the textures/patterns from any items that have them and drop them into our CAD visualisations to make sure that with the lighting we select, they aren't too distracting or conflicting with the rest of the interior.

CAD visualisation
An example of one of our CAD visualisations

Finally, we take into account the flow of each room - where you enter and exit, where the windows are and what the focal point is. A small living room shouldn't have a large sofa with its back to the door as this acts as a physical and visual barrier as you walk in. A small bedroom would want the bed on the back wall, opposite the door, so you have room to walk across the room without navigating the edges of the bed as you may have to if it was on a wall perpendicular to the entrance. Windows should let in as much light as possible so you should avoid blocking them where possible. We make these considerations and more with images of the property as well as the aforementioned measurements/drawings.

How you can do the same

Walls are one of the best opportunities when working with small spaces. In terms of the walls themselves, try to avoid busy textures/patterns for your wallpaper and colours too dark for paint. That's not to say you can't have textured/patterned wallpaper at all, but less is more and if you must use a dark colour for your paint or busy patterns in the wallpaper, keep it to one wall as a feature (which we do encourage) and contrast it with the other walls, using lighter/plainer shades.

Walls can be used to lift items off the floor and for storage, allowing you to use fewer large items of furniture. As well as the usual flat shelves that are typically used for books, you can get quite creative with wall-mountable storage units for all sorts of small items. Kitchen/dining equipment can be hung on hooks, leaning desks with shelves add extra dimensions on which you can put office accessories, ornaments and decorative accessories like artificial plants/photo frames, and fitted furniture in the bedroom creates another place to put clothes while leaving space on the floor for other furniture or to be used as walking space. Here are some great examples of wall-mountable furniture/shelving to take advantage of what little space you may have:

Artwork is another item to consider. We recommend artwork on plain walls as they break up large areas of blank space and are a fantastic way of drawing together the colours and themes of the interior. They should be used sparingly in small spaces, however, and you should carefully consider the type and size of the artwork. Abstract pieces are great as they don't tend to be too imposing like a portrait or busy landscape piece may be. Just be careful not to use anything too dark/busy, as always. We also recommend using multiple smaller pieces of artwork rather than one big piece for the same reasons.

What furniture should you choose?

In terms of furniture, you should try to avoid pieces that are too blocky. Square sofas that extend to the floor appear bigger than ones that are raised with legs and are a bit curvier, for example. The same can be said for storage furniture like bedside tables and chests of drawers, too. This is why you often see Scandi-style furniture in a lot of apartments, especially if they're marketed towards young professionals or students - the items are modern, on-trend and appeal to a large proportion of the population, plus they're easy to work with as far as matching accessories and colour goes. Items in this style quite often have spindle-legs or are raised off the floor.

Again, don't be afraid to look up when it comes to saving space down below. The walls are a great way of moving things off the floor and ultimately reducing the furniture you need in your home. Mount the TV on the wall and tidy cables with a neat solution to avoid the mess, get a wall-mounted desk, a floating bed and get creative with shelving. Doing so works wonders and really opens up your floor space and allows light to flow through the room much better.

Have you got any cool solutions to dealing with living in a small home? Share your tips with us!

Get in touch today for your free, comprehensive and bespoke interior design or show home quote.


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