As the size of apartments continue to shrink, today’s new homeowners and families are forced to make more out of less compared to previous generations. However, short of becoming an extreme minimalist, there are a number of ways you can maximize the utility of a small space. Whether you’re preparing to renovate your newly-bought home, making some minor arrangements to a rented property, or simply looking to freshen up a tired space, here are five ways you can make your modest home feel larger than it actually is.
1. Utilize vertical space to free up the floor
When working with limited floor space, sometimes the only way you can go is up. Rather than blocking out entire parts of your room with large cabinets or closets, open storage solutions allow you to put your belongings on show in a design-minded way. A reconfigurable storage system will allow you to easily make changes to your space depending on your needs, while also creating spaces that let your decorative flair shine through with plants, photo frames and other knick-knacks that would otherwise clutter tables.
For large items like bicycles or televisions that take up a significant amount of surface area, wall mounts let you make use of otherwise-unused vertical space, giving you more freedom to move. Even the backs of doors can be transformed into space-saving solutions (the Japanese have gotten this down to a science!).
2. Have less, but more functional furniture
With less space to work with, you’ll face some tough choices regarding what kind of furniture you want in your home, as well as how much. A three-piece sofa set probably won’t be in line with your pursuit to maximize space, so opting for multi-functional furniture will help you get the most out of a small space without compromising comfort.
Modular furnishings, like coffee tables that can be rearranged into stools, and sofas that fold out into loungers, not only allow you to rearrange your space to cater to the needs of the occasion, but also minimize the number of items filling up your home. Similarly, for those who enjoy lapping up a little luxury every now and then, a one-seater sofa with massage mechanisms, a stowed footrest and numerous modes of adjustability may be a better way to kick back than a sofa that takes up half the room without those added bonuses.
3. Expand your space by ditching dark colors
You know that one trusty black ensemble you keep at-the-ready for the way it slims your figure? The rules of dark colors don’t just apply to fashion; they also make a big difference to the way you see your living space. Just like your outfit, black, dark greys and dark browns will make your home appear more constricted (and look like the den of a Bond villain) , while brighter shades like white, pale grey and cream reflect light and make everything feel a lot more open and airy.
If you’re looking to make a tweak to your floors, but still want to enjoy the bold look of varnished wood or dark marble, you can simply brighten them up with light-colored area rugs. Furnishings in bright shades and light pastel colors will aid in creating the illusion of more space; you can even take it a step further with mirrors to fool the eye.
4. Let there be light!
One of the biggest sources of spatial enhancement actually comes free of charge: sunlight. Utilizing natural daylight is a strategy that works time and again for interior designers and architects seeking to make spaces look larger and more inviting. While you may not be able to add windows to your home, simply switching out dark, heavy curtains with something lighter or semi-transparent (or removing them altogether) can make a big difference.
Adding lights to parts of your home that aren’t bathed by the sun will also help expand your space. Avoid harsh fluorescents and opt for warmer globes, and don’t be afraid to mix and match your light sources to illuminate your space. Combining pendant lamps that disperse light with recessed cove lights and down lights ensures that your home will pop with the flick of a switch.
5. Break up your space into 'zones'
When thinking about the activities you carry out in your home, you’ll probably imagine them happening in different spaces – and, naturally, when you’re in different moods. Establishing distinct ‘zones’ can help cut out the clutter of a single space by creating sight lines and varying ambiences.
Here’s the good news: you don’t need to build walls to segregate a space. You can easily break up a space by painting walls different colors, elevating an area to assign it a particular purpose (e.g. work), or even something as simple as strategically placing a sofa. The visual cue of each zone will aid in making sure that you keep your belongings exactly where they should be, and (hopefully) you won’t work where you play, and vice versa.