The first of a new series on interiors by Katie McCrum, a member of the British Institution of Interior Design (BIID) and founder and MD of London Rooms Design & Development Ltd >>
Whatever small space you may have, knowing how to make the most of it is vital to feeling comfortable and proud of your home. It’s too easy to clutter, so decorating to make a room feel more spacious and thinking about the best storage solutions will help you to feel relaxed and organised.
Here are some fundamentals to make your room feel bigger, even if the floor space stays the same:
Clear out the clutter
Clutter will always make a space feel cramped, so store some of your less used functional items neatly and out of sight. Space that is in view will then feel orderly and open. Don’t let vertical space go to waste. Providing a display space for art is practical and also draws the eye up, making a space feel more expansive.
Try fitting shelving in dead areas above and behind doors or at a high level right around the room, to store books and display your favourite objects. Be really smart, and research pieces of furniture that can double up as storage, like a wall bed with pull-down shelves or a desk, sofa or storage bed with drawers underneath.
If it’s a bedroom or a studio space, ‘tame your wardrobe’ and consider the 80/20 rule! People tend to wear 10-20% of their clothes 80% of the time, which means the vast majority are just taking up space. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re aiming for a more functional wardrobe, not a ‘perfect’ wardrobe. Perfect doesn’t stand the test of time because sooner or later the reality of a small space gets in the way.
Open up the space
Moving furniture out of and away from walkways will open up a space and make it feel larger. Choose short pieces of furniture like an ottoman, an armless chair or a low table, and place large, tall pieces along a wall rather than out in the open space. If you can see the floor, the room will look larger.
Decoration and lighting
Use light and airy fabrics and colours to open up a space and bring in natural light. Avoid dark colours and heavy curtains as they tend to close up a space and make it feel smaller.
Keep a simple monochromatic colour scheme. Choosing colours for fabrics, walls and surfaces in the same tone will add a feeling of continuity and relaxation to your room. Contrasting colours tend to break up a space.
Don’t forget lighting. Any room will look larger if it’s well lit, either by natural light or artificial lighting. Change the mood easily by installing track or recessed lighting as well as side lights and floor lamps.
Furniture and surfaces
A tiny room doesn’t have to hold tiny pieces of furniture. However, the fewer items you have in it the better. One large sofa can replace a few smaller chairs, offering a sense of calmness instead of chaos.
Purchase furniture and materials that you can see through – anything beyond will appear further away. Clear glass screens in the shower or bathroom will enable you to see that extra metre of space behind.
Clear perspex tables and chairs and glass table tops with sturdy bases of wood, stone or metal will also allow the eye to travel through.
Use reflective surfaces; mirrors create reflections and bounce light. Making a small space seem grand depends on maximising light. Use a mirror as a kitchen splashback instead of tiles. Try a large framed mirror on or leaning against a wall to create a sense of depth. Toned and antique mirrors are making a comeback; a bronze mirror is particularly subtle and elegant and offers the same opening-up effect without the dazzle.
Katie McCrum’s expert eye for detail, taste, and creativity, along with a practical and leading approach to project management, have made London Rooms Design a ‘little black book’ favourite among Hollywood actors, artists and successful property developers alike.
The former BBC presenter trained at the prestigious KLC School of Design in Chelsea, West London, and started refurbishing properties in 2001. Combining 12 years in design and construction, she established London Rooms Design in 2003 and has overseen a large number of projects with other professionals in both domestic and commercial environments. In 2011, Katie joined forces with Richard Pocock to expand the company into a ‘one stop shop’ for design and development.
Contact: London Rooms Design & Development Ltd. londonroomsdesign.co.uk