Homes & Gardens
More space-enhancing ideas from the experts
SPACE PLANNING The best way to organise a house and make use of the space is to write down how each room is used, says interior decorator Nicola Harding, founder of Nicola Harding & Co. ‘For instance, ask how much time is given over to entertaining on a grander scale than at the kitchen table and is it necessary, therefore, to have a dedicated dining room or a large sitting room? Another aspect I ask my clients is about clothes washing. So often, the washing machine is crammed into a cupboard in the kitchen where space is at a premium, yet most washing is generated upstairs. It’s worth seeing whether there is space on the landing for a washing machine or whether it could go in the upstairs loo, which is rarely used and where plumbing is already set up.’
DOUBLE-DUTY ROOMS In small houses, rooms will often be multipurpose – the kitchen being the obvious example as it’s variously used for cooking, entertaining, homework and an office. Building a small desk into a cupboard, which can be closed at the end of the day is the perfect way to solve this. Utility rooms – if they exist– are particularly tricky to organise, says Suzanne Duin, founder of Maison Maison, especially if they also double as a home office. ‘Care needs to be taken to watch the traffic flow through, especially if it’s also the back access to the garden. It’s a lot for one small space to capture so thoughtful storage is vital.’
CREATIVE STORAGE Open shelves are a must for easily accessible and useful places to store everyday items – they are especially handy in a home office environment, where ideas for inspiration need to be on standby. But they must be kept tidy: an overflowing mess is the fastest way to make a small room feel even smaller. ‘One of the best ways to make a much-used busy room, such as my small home studio, appear less cluttered is by storing things cleverly but also creatively,’ says designer Molly Mahon. ‘I use our hand-block-printed storage boxes to store smaller things – they are cheerful to look at and can fit into smaller spaces or on work surfaces.’
GO BESPOKE Space planning with a budget to spend on bespoke joinery is the ideal solution to the small-room conundrum. Ceiling-high shelving or shelves that run up and over a door provide useful extra space. Rooms with low sloping roofs also cry out for some clever joinery. Those that are too low to stand in but high enough to accommodate a desk and chair present an opportunity to partition off an office space from a bedroom, for example. When designing, floor-to-ceiling wardrobes, keep the top shelf open for baskets. It will add to a sense of height. Invest instead in low-lying drawers to keep shoes or bedlinen.
“MY PERFECT STUDY NOOK INCLUDES BOOKS, STORAGE, POWER POINTS, LIGHTING, A GOOD SEAT AND DESK AREA” EMMA PAINTER, interior designer