Designing the interior of homes for maximum utilization of available ‘small’ space so that the result is comfortable, practical, functional and aesthetically pleasing, is a matter of ‘Quality’. The home is where people spend more than half of their lives (at least) and therefore, the interior should not only be convenient but one that defines or reflects the mood, life style, personality and taste of the homemakers.
The large, open and spacious homes of the past are now being replaced by smaller spaces because of spiraling property prices as well as the preference for more compact dwellings which are easier to maintain and clean. This new lifestyle and space requires careful planning of the interior that should be practical, functional, utilize every inch of space and at the same time look elegant and pleasing to the eye.
Removing clutter, keeping as much open area as possible in a room, allowing in natural light, the right combination of colours, textures, furniture arrangement, creating the illusion of space through the use of mirrors and using vertical space for storage are some of the ways to achieve the desired result.
Choosing the right colours for walls and floor and combining them with colours which optically increase instead of decrease a space is an important consideration. Light coloured walls make the room feel airy and larger in size. Dark colours have the opposite effect, absorb light instead of reflecting it. The safest option is to keep the ceiling and walls of the same light colour.
Wood paneling should be avoided for small spaces as also wall papers with large patterns or very dark coloured walls as they give the room an appearance of being smaller in size than it actually is. Cool, light colours that recede from the eye, pale blues and green and even greys, give a feeling of distance and , therefore, of space. Monochromatic schemes are considered to enhance a sense of spaciousness.
Maximise Floor space Use large size and light coloured tiles on the floors of rooms, bathroom and kitchens to make them appear less cluttered and spacious. Keeping the same style of flooring in all adjoining rooms creates a sense of continuity and gives the effect of a larger space.
Maximize the entrance of sunlight/natural light into the rooms as it serves to create an illusion of greater space. Ideally the windows should be left totally uncovered to allow natural light to flow through freely, allowing small indoor spaces to merge with the outdoors -which creates an illusion of depth and space. If at all necessary, light weight and light coloured curtains should be used for the windows.
Mirrors can be used to create an illusion of space. Mirrors amplify natural as well as artificial light, radiate it throughout the room and make the room interior much brighter and the room looking much larger than it actually is.
Floor to ceiling mirrors, mirrors on cabinets and door fronts as well as mirrors placed between wall cabinets and work tops, can be used to create a spacious look.
In small rooms, Furniture has to be placed in a way that the room looks spacious and not cluttered. Generally, all pieces of furniture are placed against the wall leaving space in the centre.
The material from which the furniture is made, also makes a difference. Furniture made from light woods like bamboo and cane, give the room a larger,lighter look. For small rooms, furniture made of similar material should be used instead of too many textures and tones. Solid looking furnitures can be polished and painted in a light colour to make the room appear more spacious.
Transparent Furniture, which includes glass and acrylic, not only creates an illusion of extra space (while fulfilling the functionality aspect of furniture) but also adds style to the room.
Use of Vertical Spaces : Another good way of freeing up floor space and making the room appear more spacious and uncluttered, is by the use of more wall mounted shelves and cabinets to take advantage of unused vertical spaces in living room, bedroom, kitchen and/or bath.
Vertical spaces in a small apartment can also be utilized by intelligently installed pegboards which maximize the functionality of walls thus increasing their storage capacity for a variety of items.
Pegboards can be used anywhere and in any room of the house for organizing kids’ toys or school supplies, in closets for hanging accessories, home office equipment , kitchen utensils or tools.
Over-the-door organizers are excellent for utilizing vertical spaces, keeping the floor free while remaining out of sight and still accommodating many items of storage. These organisers can be used in any part of the house be it kitchen to store cooking implements or tools in a garage. They are useful in children’s rooms for holding toys or behind the closet door to hold shoes and other accessories.
Smart storage under the staircase :
A smart way to create additional storage is through the utilization of odd spaces in the home, such as the area below the staircase which would be ideal for a variety of storage needs. This space can be used for concealed storage, for housing a TV cabinet or if space permits it can be considered for shelves and drawers for storing a variety of items in an innovative and attractive style.
Book cases under the staircase is another option for utilizing space that would otherwise be wasted. One could also consider creating a niche activity space under the stairs such as a music area or a bar, a small home office or even a small hobby or craft room. Depending on the location of the staircase in relation to the other rooms of the house, the space below stairs could be used as a small laundry room, or for keeping shoe racks, a mini cabinet for miscellaneous items or a wardrobe. If the staircase is in the dining room one could consider having a superior quality wine storage cabinet with a temperature control mechanism.
Unused spaces on a stair landing, inside a wall space or inside a closet can also be used to create reading or relaxing nooks.
Furniture with built in storage :
A storage plan is very important when designing a small space. Built-in storage spaces designed in the interior pieces of furniture can maximize storage without overcrowding a small space or adding pieces of furniture in the interior.
Beds are an inevitable part of any décor which occupy the most space in the bedroom. However, we can increase the productivity or functionality of the bed area without compromising on comfort or luxury by selecting beds with hiddenstorage under the mattress base.
Similarly, in a living room with limited space, a coffee tablewith built-in storagespace for newspapers, magazines and books, in an aesthetically pleasing and contemporary design, is a good option.
A large collection of books(but no spare area to use as a library), can be accommodated in a wall to wall, floor to ceiling bookcase. This also creates an illusion of expanded space by pushing the walls and ceiling out.
‘Quality living’is incomplete without enjoying the freshness and beauty of nature in our homes. Creation of vertical wall gardens is a great way to add greenery in a small space without using any ground space. In case a wall is not available, the effect can be created by mounting small pots on the fence. A wall garden can also be created in walkways by using gutter or open lines that are used for drainage.