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Small is beautiful
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Small is beautiful

For many of us, space at home is always an issue. Few of us complain about have too much space in our houses, and our belongings seem to grow to fill even the roomiest of properties! Modern houses and flats are often on the small side, as developers are under pressure to squeeze in as many as possible. With all our belongings, furniture and just all our ‘stuff’, it doesn’t take much for our homes to feel rather overcrowded.

Urban living is often the most pushed in terms of space. If you have a cramped, cluttered flat and you live in the heart of the city, you might find yourself feeling rather hemmed in and you probably won’t have a handy loft or shed in which to put things; however, living in a small property does not mean you have to adopt the minimalist approach or compromise on style.

Probably the first step is to declutter, and then address your storage. We tend to be sentimental souls and find it hard to throw things away, but it is worth being fairly ruthless about how many books, or pictures, or toys you have. Regularly sort through every room and either recycle, take things to charity shops, or sell on auction sites. Storage units can be rented for relatively little money if you really don’t want to part with things.

Find space for as much storage as possible, be it shelving, cupboards or boxes. Slide some attractive boxes under a side or coffee table, and get the most you can out of your walls. Shelving can be fitted into the most awkward spaces and even over doorframes, in unused corners and over beds. Hooks can be squeezed into even smaller spaces, such as inside cupboards and on the back of doors. Don’t underestimate the benefit of having a place to hang coats, bags, scarves and towels, and getting things off the floor will free up space and look so much better. Make sure any cupboards are set up to be as useful as possible; again, a few shelves will make all the difference, as will a hook for the ironing board.

You also need to get the most out of your furniture. Items that double up as storage, such as a bed with pull-out drawers in the base or a footstool that is also a chest, are fantastically useful.

If you have some DIY skills, or know someone who does, have a look on sites such as Houzz and Pinterest for inspirational space-saving projects. If you fancy tackling a bigger project, have a think about whether knocking a wall down will help. You probably don’t need a separate dining room, for example, and it may be far better to unite rooms to create an open plan space. Do check with a builder if you are unsure whether a wall is load bearing. This doesn’t mean you can’t knock it down, but it does mean it will need additional support.

Make sure your furniture matches the scale of your room. Do you really need a massive four-seater corner unit? The answer is probably not, as you don’t want to spend your time squeezing past it and cursing it. Smaller furniture will, of course, take up less space and make your room look bigger. A folding table and chairs can be pushed up against a wall and opened up when needed.

It sounds a bit clichéd, but lighting, mirrors and reflective surfaces can really open up a space, bringing light to gloomy corners and maximising natural daylight. Pale, reflective surfaces on walls or on your furniture and furnishings have the same effect, bouncing back the light.

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