Saturday, 31 August 2013

Living in Small Spaces

We love our little apartment tucked away on the top floor of a '70s apartment block in South Yarra and if someone had of told me ten years ago that we'd still be here with a baby I would have laughed in their faces.  But here we are.  And we love it.  We love our neighbourhood, our neighbours, the many parks and gardens and the shopping nearby on Chapel Street and Malvern Road.  After all these years I think I've had to get pretty clever on how to best use the small space we have, but believe me, I've had my '' moments.

Our place is always evolving and changing, every inch counts.  I thought I'd share some tips I've learned along the way:

1. Trying to make the space feel bigger shouldn't be a priority.  If it's a small space, it will always be a small space and will never look spacious so embrace the smallness!  If your landlord is cool with it, instead of painting everything white (and bland and boring) to make it look bigger why not consider something darker and moodier.  It will give the space atmosphere and make it feel so warm and intimate.
This room in the Parisian apartment of Diane Von Furstenberg is on the verge of being a little crazy, but give me a little crazy over bland any day of the week.  It definitely makes you want to grab a stack of magazines, a coffee and snug in for the afternoon.  What a cool small space.  When I think of people in Paris living in small apartments, I feel a little better!
This apartment is painted in a dark colour and it has a load of atmosphere and a great feel.

2. Having a small space does not mean small furniture.  You would think that if we select small furniture pieces for a small room we will have more space and the room will feel bigger when in fact I've found the opposite is true.  Small furniture pieces accentuate how small the room is so try to go with the largest size practicable in the space.  For instance a tiny two seater sofa when a three seater will fit if the better way to go.  A two seater with space around it will only accentuate how small the room is however a three seater will make the room seem bigger.  Same with tables, a larger table creates a large plane in the space and not only is it more useful it makes the room seem bigger. Better still use an extendable table.  You want to create a harmonious space and lots of small pieces of furniture will chop the room up and look out of proportion.

A small rug floating around on the living room floor will make the room feel smaller (my absolute pet hate) try the largest rug you can afford and make sure it goes under the furniture.
Just because this is a small living area, doesn't mean everything inside it has to be small.  This large artwork makes a lot of impact and gives the space depth.  A sofa without arms can give you more seating too.
Actually bringing your furniture in from the walls can give the space more interest.  Having all the furniture pushed up against the walls can feel like a doctors waiting room.  Just by placing a narrow sofa table or console behind the sofa not only is a great space for lamps and to put your drinks, it creates another interesting layer to the space.

3. Create different zones.  Think about creating different zones in the space.  Different zones (created out of necessity) such as a dining area, lounge area or study area can actually make the space and make it more interesting.  When you walk in you don't just take one glance and sum the room up straight away instead there are a few different pockets of interest to see.  It's makes a much more intriguing this way.
Check out all of the different zones going on here.  Sofas for conversation, a study table, a sewing area and play space for kids.   From The Design Files
The New York apartment of Marcus Hay is small but has a lot of interesting areas.
So it's a work in progress but hopefully we can make it work...


  1. What a good little post and some very sound advise. Nice one! I like :)

  2. Thanks Anne-Claire. It's a work in progress!



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