John Lewis Velvet Pouffe
Our homes are busier and more full than ever – but less space doesn’t have to mean less style…
With demands increasing daily on living spaces – from classroom to office, chill-out den to kitchen disco – what happens if yours is on the small side? Is there such a thing as a ’small but beautifully formed’ home? We definitely think so.
While planning out the basics is key, a small home also needs to be flexible and ready for anything. ‘This past year has shown how creative we can be when it comes to our space,’ says Fionnuala Johnson, Partner & Senior Designer, Home Design Studio. ‘We’ve almost needed to become “home engineers”, as we think of different creative home hacks.’
Just as you create zones in an open-plan space, the same applies to a small home – even if those zones tend to overlap. Position a small dining area with a view to outside – this will visually extend the space, making it seem bigger as you look out while dining. Think about how many people you want to seat – if there are usually just one or two sitting down to eat, then go for two dining chairs and two folding chairs that can be stashed out of the way when not in use. Break up areas with a change of flooring – a rug or runner adds that visual divide, helping to create those rooms within a room.
When it comes to your living area, try bringing your sofa forward into the room. This might seem like you are wasting valuable floor space, but it will give you an area behind for shelving. You’ll be creating a reading nook, too, if you line these shelves with great reads. ‘Made-to-measure furniture might make best use of a tricky space,’ says Partner & Home Design Stylist Bethan Harwood, ‘especially for alcoves and above doorways.’ Of course, you can get the look for less with shelving units – try buying multiples and butting up to give the impression of built-in. ‘Closed storage creates a less cluttered feel, and secret storage in ottomans ensures no space is wasted,‘ says Bethan.
“Armchairs and sofas with slim sides maximise seating space, and elegant furniture with slender legs will feel less dominant”
When it comes to using colour, a neutral base is a safe bet in a small space, but you can still make it work harder for you with a few tricks. ‘Painting the walls, doors and woodwork the same colour blurs the edges of a room, which in turn makes it feel more spacious,’ says Bethan. Go for clean lines – even when it comes to your choice of window treatment. ‘Roman blinds are a great alternative to curtains as they stack up and away from the wall while framing the window and softening hard lines,’ adds Bethan.
Think about how you can create a working-from-home space that works for you. Replacing a stool with a chair-style one might give you a more comfortable perch at your kitchen island, while a display cabinet can be utilised to house work kit when not in use, such as laptops and charging cables. Embrace tech too – a good pair of headphones could mean even the smallest of living spaces can multi-function for different members of your home at the same time.
“Pick a sofa on legs and take advantage of wall space with floating cupboards or shelves as storage”
Small spaces can be full of personality, but you need to think about avoiding too much clutter – this is where hidden storage can be your new best friend. Look at side tables that double as magazine racks and don’t be afraid to give some storage pieces a new home. Try adding a slimline laundry bin in smart felt to your hallway for keeping bags, hats and scarves neat and tidy, while two side tables might give you more flexibility than one large coffee table.
Plan your palette too – pops of colour can add interest to a small space, but use sparingly, working with shades rather than too many different colours. ‘A single, statement painting often works better than a gallery wall, which can look crowded in a compact home,’ adds Bethan, ‘while plants can be hung from the ceiling, helping to keep the floor and surfaces clear.’