Living Large in Small Spaces

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If you live in public housing, you’d know that our flats are getting smaller and smaller. Floor areas for HDB flats are shrinking in size over the past 20 to 30 years. Though some might lament at the shrinking of living space, there’re others who are lapping up even smaller units – shoe-box private apartments averaging lesser than 500 square feet and which are sold at premium prices.

One thing is for sure: a smaller space would often require more attention placed to decorating, furnishing, and organising so as to better maximise the living space. Smaller units could also be prone to clutter as space are lacking for effectively organising your things. Thus, those who hanker after studio and shoe-box apartments need to be disciplined with their clutter, all the more so when they’ve a little “karang guni” in them. The provision of clever storage and organising becomes one of the primary focuses in designing a small space. Some creativity is all it takes to preen your living space and makes it look more well-organised and spacious than before.

Break down the barriers
Consider removing the doors to your bedroom to create a wider space. An alternative would be to install glass doors that can slide to open when the room is not in use. For privacy, install arty frosted stickers on the glass doors or hang sheer curtains for the dreamy effect. The key here is to open up the space in creating an airy and light ambience.

Create a focal point
Anchor the main furniture or furnishing in the room say for example your sofa as the focal point and blend other furnishings around it. With a central element where the eye can fix on, the room would look more defined and polished with less clutter.

Build distinct areas
Even though the room might be small, distinct corners such as reading nooks or play areas could still be created. Define the areas with a few decorative elements that sync harmoniously in terms of colours and materials for example. At the reading nook, place a soft rug or cushion beside a sturdy book shelf together with candles and soft lighting to complete the look.

Multi-function your space
If you could create distinct nooks, you could also make them multi-functional. A chic square table complete with lush table cloth could act as an ornamental display for picture frames and candle light holders or be opened up for dining to a group of eight during large gatherings.

Light up the room
Have different types of lighting to create various atmospheres. For a small room, it’s important that the room is sufficiently illuminated, whether with natural or artificial light, in order for it to appear more spacious. Have the main light in the form of cove, L-box or track lighting and then supplement it with wall-affixed lamps. Floor lighting, though taking up space, can still be used if their design brings out the uniqueness of the décor. Curtain drapes need to be lighter and of sheer material or they could be replaced with blinds to bring in more light. Better still, ditch the drapes and blinds and let all the light in.

Mirror mirror on the wall
Installing mirrors always helps to make the room appears bigger. Their illusion of perspective can lengthen or broaden a room. Pick a large-sized mirror with interesting framing like ornate carvings for example and hang it at your living room. Create an art piece with an array of mirrors in different sizes, shapes, and framings placed haphazardly together. This not only creates depth and volume to the space but also makes for interesting chatter among friends.

Hide & seek your storage
In a small space, storage is of paramount importance. Provide lots of storage for all that clutter that is bound to build, and provide them in ingenious ways. Have built-in cabinets and wall-shelving and cabinets for your knick knacks, books, and frames. Customise your round seating or coffee table to accommodate plenty of storage underneath. Go for furniture that has more than one purpose. In this way, you’d save on furniture and storage cost.

Colours make a difference
Light colours like vanilla white make a room looks bigger whereas darker colours create a sombre effect in addition to narrowing the room smaller. Opt to paint your entire space white – try the white typically used for ceiling – and add colour gradually with your furnishings, following the theme you’ve in mind. The tile flooring could also adopt a lighter shade like faint slate or pristine white to complement the overall effect. Alternatively you could consider selectively colouring one or few walls a darker colour like rust and grey to create dimension and depth.

Get statement furniture
A large furniture piece might sometimes create a sense of grandeur, anchoring the space at the same time. A 5-seater or L-shaped sofa might be more apt than a 2-seater with small cushions and stools placed around it to seat more guests. It’d look aesthetically better too. Of course, the key is not to buy many big furniture pieces and put them together at the same time; it will only end up cluttering the space.

Play with artwork
There’s much an artwork can do to your walls. If you like more colour, you could opt for a lively countryside water colour painting; if your furniture and furnishings are already a little cheery, you could consider adding monotone photographs to tone down the bright outlook as well as to evoke an artistic effect at the same time. For small spaces, artworks play a big role in enlivening the space and contributing to the ambience you intend for your abode.

Keep some space bare
Resist the urge to decorate every inch or to hang pictures on all the walls. This would only add to the clutter of the room and restrain the size of the room. Keep some space empty and let the room breathe. Concentrate on the focal point of the room be it a sofa or poster bed and then leave the rest out or keep the decor minimal; you’d find the space much more appealing and also more spacious as a result.

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