Inside Out (Australia)
Shannon Vos’s tips for small-space living
You might have had plans to expand this year, which 2020 has probably scuppered. If so, it’s time to discover new ways to love the space you’re in
Well, the year from hell is officially over and now we can start the healing process. We all spent a lot of time cooped up at home last year, locked into our abodes with work and travel restrictions, and didn’t we feel it! Working from the dining table and juggling the whole home-schooling thing soon made many of us realise how small our spaces can actually feel when chaos descends. BUT, as we discovered, the answer to the problem of cramped small spaces is not necessarily more room, it’s using those spaces better, with multipurpose functionality and smarter features. Let’s see how we can workshop those small-space woes before the next pandemic send us all indoors again (touch wood)!
Lighting is EVERYTHING within a home, and a well-lit small space will outperform a poorly lit oversized room every time. Natural light will make a space feel more open and inviting and do wonders for your mood-regulating serotonin levels, so if you
can, let the sun’s rays shine on through. The best alternative is warm lighting, and most downlights and some wall lights and lamps have a daylight and warm-light setting. The way that lighting is going though, it won’t be long until every globe is controlled from your device – and you can choose from an array of tones to suit your mood.
Small spaces can quickly feel overwhelming when the furniture overpowers the room. A whopping big sofa crammed into a modest living room can crowd the space and make the room feel smaller than it is. Instead, choose larger artworks and rugs, and let the size of the room dictate the size (and layout) of the furniture. Creating space around your elements to let them ‘breathe’ will also make the room feel more spacious.
make it multipurpose
Elements with two or more functions go a long way to creating that extra bit of space you’ve been searching for. Book-shelf coffee tables, sofas with storage or even stairs with discreet drawers – it’s just a matter of finding opportunities within those elements and making the most of them. Either that or search Small Space Living Hacks on Pinterest.
share with others
For those of us that live in the hustle and bustle, floor space is expensive. The quintessential four-bedroom+backyard is hard to achieve in the city, so we have to rethink how we can share our not-so-personal spaces. Big fenced-in yards can be isolating and insular for a family unit, but shared green spaces and local parks promote community and diversity in urban kids. Laundries can also be set up as shared spaces – just beware detergent thieves.
Storage is king when it comes to life in smaller dwellings, as anything left out draws attention to itself and can crowd a room. As always, if something’s not in use, put it away. And when it’s away, keep it organised with drawer dividers and filing cabinets,
possibly even within storage. This will optimise the storage capacity and keep your spaces looking clutter-free for longer.
If you’re in the planning stage of a smaller-space build, try to avoid details on ceilings and walls that might create visual noise. Decorative ceilings, wainscoting, architraves and cornice details are great for creating character or referencing a specific design period, but not if you’re attempting to tone down the visual clutter in a modest space. The best option is to keep the detail out and the look as simple, flat and light as possible.
Nothing says ‘overwhelming’ like a collection of snow globes from that trip to Europe 10 years ago. We’re all guilty of displaying the relics of yesteryear in the hope that someone asks us to relive the glory days of our past. Go hardcore Marie Kondo on your home and, if it doesn’t spark joy (we’re talking real, tangible joy), drop it off at Vinnies.