Not all of us have the luxury of a large house with plenty of space to spread out in, meaning that we have to be clever with the space that we do have. Here are some design tricks you can try to get the most out of your space:
LOOK AT A FLOORPLAN
I always start off working on a design for a client by looking at the floor plan. This gives a great overview of the size and proportions of the rooms, and allows you to see what direction they face, so that you can work out if the rooms are in the right places. Just because someone is using a room as a living room doesn’t mean that’s what it has to be. When I did my own side-return extension, rather than turning the room that led out onto the garden into a kitchen / diner, and keeping the living room at the front of the house, I decided that I wanted the room that led out onto the garden to be my living room. You really need to think about your layout, how often you use each room, and what you are using it for.
I also look at how doors open, as in many cases additional space can be carved out of a room simply by changing the way a door swings. One point to note, however, is that if you change a door swing, you’ll likely need to move the light switch too.
SELECT FURNITURE WITH SCALE IN MIND
The next thing to consider is what furniture you need in each room. For your living room, for example, you might want enough seating for eight people on a regular basis. This can be achieved through a range of different options – 2 x 3 seater sofas and 2 chairs, or a large corner sofa and a selection of chairs, etc. Make a note of the dimensions of the furniture that you like, and draw it to scale in your floorplan. This way you’ll be able to work out how well it fits – if it’s too big or too small; does it obscure a window, or sit too close to another piece of furniture.
It’s also important to consider ‘traffic flow’. This will help you to create a space where you can easily navigate around the furniture unhindered which will help the room to feel more spacious. Don’t automatically place your furniture against the walls either. Sometimes placing a piece at an angle or surrounded by open space, will make a room look bigger.
Symmetrical furniture arrangements are generally more harmonious than asymmetrical ones, so try arranging similar size chairs either side of the fireplace in a living room. And if the architecture of your space doesn’t give you symmetry, you can create your own by defining a line that you use to place items either side of.
REDUCE VISUAL CLUTTER
Whether your space is light and airy, or dark and cosy, you can reduce visual clutter by painting the walls, skirting boards, window frames and door frames in the same colour. Painting the ceiling can also work miracles in creating a cohesive space.
The more floor that is visible, the more spacious your room will look. Choose wall hung shelving, furniture with exposed legs, or see-through furniture such as glass tables or lucite chairs. All of these options will fool the eye into thinking there is more space than there actually is.
When it comes to accessories, remember that less is more. Use fewer larger decorative pieces, and make sure you leave enough negative space around them. Mirrors, especially large ones, create symmetry by reflecting the space back on itself, which also works to make the space feel larger!
CREATE A COHESIVE SCHEME
Creating a moodboard will helps you to see how the colours you like work together and whether furniture styles coordinate. I usually start from a selection of images from magazines / Pinterest to sum up the feeling you want to create in the room. From there I add fabric samples (feel and texture is as important as colour and scale of pattern, so it’s important to get actual samples) and then paint colours. Try to make the main colour swatches bigger than the accent ones so you get a feel of the proportions. And then add the furniture and accessory ideas to the moodboard too. This allows you to see whether all of the items will work together in the one space, creating a cohesive scheme.
Happy planning, and please do share your ideas on your social media. I’d love to see how you get on!
“A house is very much like a portrait: the thought of arrangement, the curves and straight lines. It gives an indication of the character at the heart of it.”