Ace Your Space: How to Make the Most of a Small Home When Renovating

Small rooms are always the most fun to renovate, and not just because it’s cheaper. You really have to use your brainpower to get the best results, which makes the whole endeavour much more satisfying when it turns out awesome. Here are some of our top tips.

Use light colours to make the space seem airy

Image credit: Deavita
Image credit: Deavita

Light colours reflect natural light, which will make any room feel bright and airy. And when you have a small space to work with, you should definitely take advantage of this optical illusion. White rooms always look the biggest, and they are extremely versatile when it comes to decorating – you can use them as the backdrop for just about any interior design theme because they don’t clash with anything. Plus, when you have white walls, you can paint an accent wall without making the other walls close in around you. No matter what shade you choose for your feature wall, as long as the other three walls are white, the space will still feel large and open.

However, if you want something with a bit more personality than stark white, any pale shade will work. Soft tones of green and blue create a relaxing atmosphere and are perfect for bedrooms, while light yellows look great in the kitchen. Pastel tones – such as pale pink, lilac and lavender – will achieve the same airy effect, but can be a bit too cutesy on their own. You’ll have to add accents in white, tan, beige or grey to take away some of the candy-coloured sweetness and balance out the space.

You can also try painting your wall trim and moldings in a lighter colour than your walls. This will make the walls seem further back, so your room appears larger. Just remember, when you’re trying to decide what colour to paint the walls, ensure they suitably complement the floor. You’ll maximise and accentuate the available space, giving yourself the perfect foundation on which to continue. An interior designer like Camberwell’s Candlewick Interior Design & Decoration will be able to give you advice on what looks best.

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Go vertical

Image credit: dakotadave.com
Image credit: dakotadave.com

When the surface area is at a premium, the only way to go is up. Sure, tall bookshelves have been around forever – but you need to think bigger (or higher, as the case may be). You can fit all sorts of stuff into the space between the furniture and the ceiling, which most people never even consider trying to make use of.

There should be plenty of room for storage, so have a think about what you might fit in. You may have enough space in the kitchen for high-mounted cabinets, which would be perfect for those appliances you don’t use every day. You can use the walls above a desk, above the toilet, above the laundry sink – wherever you’ve got free space – for a set of streamlined shelves that can hold books, supplies or framed artwork. High shelves over doors and near the tops of windows also help to raise your eye when you walk into a room, giving the impression of a bigger space.

Just be careful with how you style these high, open shelves. You want to make sure they are streamlined and colour-coordinated, so that they don’t just add to the clutter and make the room feel even smaller than it is. If they’re going to hold all sorts of odds and ends, consider storing them in matching boxes to give that same clean look.

If you need advice, or would like some shelving or cabinetry constructed in your home, contact an expert like Moggill’s Bespoke Cabinetry & Joinery.

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Get rid of solid doors

Image credit: Howdens
Image credit: Howdens

If you’ve got two small rooms adjoining one another, why not make them into one larger room? Of course you can knock down walls, and make more space that way. But if you want something a little less drastic, you can simply remove or replace the solid door connecting them. A sliding door is a great option, as you can leave it open most of the time and only shut it when you need to separate the rooms. Plus it gives you back lots of floor and wall space, as there’s not a big heavy door sitting propped open in the way.

Glass doors are also a good option, as they allow for a continued line of sight into the other room. Or for a cheaper solution, you can just remove the door entirely. When the eye can travel without interruption from one room into the other, it creates a sense that the space is connected and therefore bigger. Of course, you need a door to the bedrooms and bathrooms for privacy, but using this trick throughout the rest of the house will do wonders to open up the space. Just make sure to style the two rooms in similar colours and themes to ensure visual continuity and maintain the illusion.

Have one kind of flooring throughout the house

Image credit: Noosh Kids
Image credit: Noosh Kids

A united floor is a happy floor, and even more so if you’re trying to make your rooms look larger. Selecting a single type of flooring to use for the entire house is a clever little trick, as it creates the impression of one long, uninterrupted flow. This make each separate room feel like it’s part of one big space, as opposed to some tiny little alcove shoved out to the side.

It’s easier to use hardwood or tiling throughout the whole house, rather than carpet – after all, nobody likes soggy carpet in the kitchen and bathrooms. Just be sure to choose floorboards that are larger than three inches wide. Wider planks means fewer seams, which in turn creates a more open pattern that looks less busy and confining. You should also lay the boards parallel to the longest wall, rather than the shortest one. This will trick the eye into believing the room is longer than it is.

Lastly, opt for dark floors, particularly if you’ve taken our earlier advice about light-coloured walls. A dark floor will make your walls feel even brighter by comparison, and provide a warm and earthy feeling to a room. Because they absorb the light, they seem to disappear beneath you as you walk through a room – and this makes the walls feel taller.

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Build in space savers

windowseat_v2
Image credit: Pencil and Paperco

If you’ve really been bitten by the reno bug, why not investigate the possibility of replacing some existing furniture with built-in space savers? These include things like slide-away benches in the kitchen or fold-up desks in the kids’ rooms. Just think about what you don’t use all the time, and see if there’s a way you can pack it up and hide it when it’s not in use. You can even go one step further and build everyday furniture items into your home – for example, you could have window seats instead of a sofa, and in-wall shelving instead of bulky bookshelves. This way you don’t need to fill up precious floor space.

Some space-savers can be purchased ready-made from furniture stores, but for more complicated jobs that are actually installed in the framework of your home, you will have to call in a professional builder like Paul’s Home Maintenance and Renovations in Cherrybrook.

These smart features can be invaluable when you’re entertaining guests, and you won’t even know they’re there the rest of the time. And whether you add window seats or built-in bookshelves, small rooms will benefit. Having a lot of furniture items creates a sense of clutter, which closes in the space. Meanwhile, built-in elements keep the room open and spacious, and also provide vertical interest – drawing the eye upwards so the space appears bigger.

“Making the most of a small space when renovating requires a great deal of thought. You need to remember that ‘less is more’. If you have a small area, try not to fill it with too many bulky items, because that will fill up the space even more. A nice, fresh white will make it feel bigger and more open, and you can try putting smaller pieces of furniture in to enhance the effect.” – Darren Jolly

Renovating? You can check out heaps of useful tips at our home improvement blog.

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