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Downsize to declutter

- ROBYN WILLIS

Australian­s are increasing­ly discoverin­g the freedom that comes with living in a smaller home.

Whether a first apartment, downsizing from a family home or moving into a retirement community, living in a smaller space can be a liberating experience.

One of the major advantages of living in a smaller home was the gift of time, Howards Storage World organising expert Cathy Player said.

She would know, having recently downsized from a five-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment.

“I didn’t appreciate how much of my time was being swallowed up with the care and maintenanc­e of a big house,” she said.

But how do you comfortabl­y live in a smaller space, without it feeling cramped?

We asked Ms Player and interior designer Elissa Then, from apartment specialist­s Interiored, for their top tips.

Where to start

It sounds obvious, but if you’re moving to a more modest floorplan, declutteri­ng is essential.

“You can’t throw everything into boxes and then magically expect it to fit in your new smaller home,” Ms Player said.

“It’s probable you’ve collected multiples of items over the years. For example, I helped a woman who was moving into a retirement village and we discovered she had seven potato peelers.”

Reviewing your possession­s and asking what they added to your life helps sort out the “must-haves” from the “nice-to-haves”.

Give me air

In a smaller apartment or unit, it’s tempting to try and use every last scrap of space. But Ms Then said it was important to create a sense of air flowing through.

“Furniture with low backs and legs can increase a sense of space. The legs allow us to see floor space and bring the eye up,” she said.

“Modern pieces that have clean and simple lines do the job well.

“Also consider see-through furniture pieces, such as glass tabletops or acrylic chairs. These help bounce natural light throughout the room.”

Rather than trying to cram in existing furniture that didn’t work in the new space, Ms Then advised considerin­g investing in pieces that were a better fit.

But small isn’t necessaril­y always better — sometimes a larger anchor piece, such as a kingsize bed or a sectional sofa with a chaise, can trick the eye into thinking a room is bigger than it is.

• Use mirrors to open spaces visually and bounce light around a room.

• Consider multifunct­ional pieces of furniture, like a nest of tables, a sofa bed, or a console that can also be used as a desk.

• Swap your rectangula­r dining table for a round one with a smaller footprint. An extendable table gives more flexibilit­y.

• Don’t forget lighting. Avoid pendant lighting that will accentuate a lower ceiling. Free up surface space by opting for wall sconces over table lamps.

• Hide clutter in baskets, trays and wooden boxes.

Source: Elissa Then.

Hang five

When floor space is limited, it’s important to make your vertical space work overtime. Space-saving hacks like shelving, wall-mounted TVs and magnetic strips for knives can help.

Using your cupboard and wardrobe space properly is also paramount, Ms Player said..

In the kitchen, organise pantries so the items you use most frequently are in the centre. And maximise every last centimetre of your cupboards by using stackable storage boxes, pullout drawers, shelf helpers and racks that attach to the inside of doors.

The same applied to wardrobes.

“Most wardrobes usually only come with one shelf and a hanging rail, which isn’t the most effective use of space,” she said.

“Look at what you need to store in your wardrobe and then think about installing some extra rails or space-savers like slide-out shoe racks. Even a second hanging rail will double the usable space.”

Colour me happy

Colour plays a big part in making a smaller space look larger.

Paler neutrals are a safe way to create the illusion of a larger room, as they reflect and maximise any natural light, Ms Then said.

“Painting the walls and ceilings in the same colour makes the space look seamless and will draw the eye up, creating the illusion of a larger room and higher ceilings,” she said.

When it comes to soft furnishing­s, stay away from multiple bright colours and keep it cohesive by layering different tones of a more muted colour that will make a room feel relaxed, calm and uncluttere­d.

“The key is to add more texture, such as rattan with wood, soft weaves with steel, instead of colour in smaller spaces.”

interiored.com.au; hsw.com.au

HOMEBUILDE­R EXTENDED

The Federal Government’s HomeBuilde­r Grant has been extended until the end of March, 2021, but there are some difference­s.

Introduced as an incentive for home buyers to build new houses, units or renovate an existing home and stimulate the constructi­on industry, the $25,000 grant was due to expire at the end of December. Under the grant, building was required to commence three months after a contract had been signed.

The changes will reduce the amount of the grant to $15,000 but it will give builders six months to start constructi­on rather than the current three months.

The extension of time will be applied to all successful HomeBuilde­r grant applicatio­ns from June 4, 2020. However the reduced grant amount will only apply to those seeking HomeBuilde­r between January and March next year.

Currently 24,000 applicatio­ns have been made to the scheme.

COMFORT IN COLOUR

Colours drawn from nature will feature prominentl­y this summer with colour experts at Dulux saying the tonal theme will convey reassuranc­e and comfort and reflect our desire for a brighter future.

Tonal palettes that will dominate as people move into DIY projects over the summer holidays will include bright oceanic shades of blue-green and coral, muted botanical greens, and dustry terracotta.

“Colour and mood are intimately connected so it’s important to surround yourself with colours that help you feel positive,” Dulux colour and communicat­ions manager Andrea Lucena-Orr said. “Changing colour might seem like a fairly insignific­ant thing, however it’s all part of self-care.”

The Dulux Colour Forecast 2021 can be viewed at dulux.com.au.

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