Decor

Cape Town home­owner Mar­ian van Wyk lives in a com­pact apart­ment and shares tips on how to style small spa­ces.

True Love - - News - Pho­to­graphs JO­HAN WILKE

“When your liv­ing space is small, you need to think big and have fewer posses­sions – that’s your pri­mary con­sid­er­a­tion. ‘Is that all? Your whole liv­ing place?’ one of my guests once asked me in dis­be­lief. I just stared at the ceil­ing’s con­crete beams and tried to ex­plain that this sin­gle room pre­vi­ously con­tained three bed­rooms, but that some peo­ple pre­fer to stay in a com­pact, open-plan area.

My hus­band and I love the sim­ple, un­com­pli­cated life­style that comes with our apart­ment’s lo­ca­tion in Sea Point. We can lock up and walk to shops and restau­rants. This life­style also has its dis­ad­van­tages – like if you lose your heart on an antique teapot, but you know that you have lim­ited kitchen cab­i­net space for crock­ery. Four cab­i­nets, which are all full; that’s it. So, if ‘less is more’ is your mantra, and you re­peat it enough times, you’ll en­joy liv­ing in a small space. Choose your fur­ni­ture wisely and keep the decor sim­ple.

CON­SIDER THE WALLS

It makes sense to break down inside walls in a small area. Our place feels big­ger and lighter, and we can play with fur­ni­ture place­ment. But there are dis­ad­van­tages: sud­denly there’s much less wall space to hang art­works. Built-in cup­boards and stor­age space also van­ish with the walls. If you break down the wall be­tween the kitchen and liv­ing room, build in a cup­board un­der the counter. Think care­fully what will be vis­i­ble from the liv­ing room af­ter the wall has been bro­ken down. We learnt this the hard way, as many new power plugs had to be fit­ted once we’d bashed down the inside wall. Al­though we feel we’ve gained more than we lost, we should have thought about the pros and cons of changing the struc­ture.

There are ways to cre­ate space in a small kitchen, like mount­ing a towel rack on a kitchen cab­i­net or the ceil­ing. Then your cook­ing uten­sils can hang within reach, and your draw­ers have more space.

Be on the look­out for other use­ful things that you can mount on the wall, such as a plas­tic bag holder, a mag­netic strip for knives, or a kitchen pa­per unit.

You don’t need more than one can opener and three sets of crock­ery. Colour scheme is also im­por­tant. Our so­lu­tion was to paint all the in­ner walls white and to use the same ac­cent colours ev­ery­where: red, a lit­tle blue and a touch of yel­low in some places. With a neu­tral pal­ette you can get away with some ex­trav­a­gance, such as red din­ing chairs.

We up­hol­stered our old of­fice chairs in red fab­ric and they look great with the small round din­ing ta­ble. Our crock­ery is mainly in white, with a few green drink­ing glasses and blue wine glasses for pops of colour in the kitchen.

SET UP YOUR WORKSPACE

My home of­fice is built into a wall cav­ity where there used to be a wardrobe. It’s very small, but the ad­van­tage is that I need to clean up and un­pack af­ter each project is com­pleted. The walls here are used to stretch the space – the phone and a mag­netic board with sta­tionery are mounted on both sides of the former cup­board and are easy to reach. I kept the cup­board above and in­serted shelves into it. A cup­board with doors hid­ing files and pa­per­work al­ways looks neat. If your study is small, al­low for some space to give it a per­son­al­ity, like a por­trait or pho­tos. And with the phone mounted to the wall, you never have to search for it un­der your pa­per­work. We bought a set of draw­ers to go un­der the desk. It was brown and ne­glected, and had ugly plas­tic han­dles. We added wheels, gave it two lay­ers of paint and in­stalled new steel han­dles, and voilà! It’s a per­fect stor­age cab­i­net. As for proper light­ing, mount a lamp where it’s out of the way. We in­stalled a tube light, which is hid­den un­der the closet. Use your walls for ex­tra stor­age space by adding a mag­netic or pin board.

ADD SIM­PLE TOUCHES

You should think dif­fer­ently about the bed­room if it flows straight into a liv­ing area. When you and vis­i­tors can see your bed linen from the couch, it’s best to let the colour blend in with the liv­ing room. Keep it sim­ple in white shades, and make it in­ter­est­ing with ac­ces­sories in nat­u­ral tex­tures and a few soft ac­cent colours.

Sim­ple win­dow decor make a small area look big­ger. It can be func­tional rather than dec­o­ra­tive. Some­times an open-plan lay­out can be a nui­sance: while you need to work on your com­puter, your part­ner wants to watch TV. A slid­ing door, which sep­a­rates the sleep and liv­ing area will keep the peace. When your rhythms are the same again, it can slide open.

In a small bath­room, less is more and the sim­plest de­sign works best. Try to have noth­ing on the floor and choose ac­ces­sories that can be mounted on the wall. A glass sink is ideal as it seems to al­most dis­ap­pear. Also, a large wall mir­ror will make the space look big­ger and is of­ten cheaper to in­stall than tiles. Light that forms part of the mir­ror can save you a lot of space. Choose soap and tooth­brush hold­ers that can be mounted on the wall, which also looks cool.

SOLV­ING SPACE PROB­LEMS

Some prac­ti­cal prob­lems may ap­pear as you adapt to a smaller space, but there are so­lu­tions. Af­ter walls have been bro­ken down, close the spa­ces with a brick wall or a built-in book­shelf. Laun­dry is a real prob­lem – we hang our wet clothes onto hang­ers in the closet. And lastly, when a kitchen like ours mea­sures just over two square me­ters, you have to con­sider ev­ery­thing. Think out of the box and max­imise space.

THIS PAGE: MIR­RORS MAKE THE SMALL LIV­ING ROOM LOOK LARGER, AS DO THE LIGHT, AIRY COLOURS.

DIN­ING AREA: SAVE SPACE BY MOUNT­ING KITCHEN­WARE ON THE WALL, BUT KEEP IT STYLISH WITH BRIGHT SHADES.

BELOW: SHELVES SAVE ON BED­ROOM SPACE, AND THE DESK IS A CON­VERTED WARDROBE. TOP TO BOT­TOM: THE BED­ROOM LINEN IS COOL AND CRISP WHILE THE CLOSET LOOKS NEAT AND TIDY.

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