Are you feeling cluttered, chaotic and claustrophobic at home?
Katherine Sorrell offers six quick and easy tips to help create more space…
Step One: Clear out that clutter
It’s boring but simple: sort through your stuff. All your stuff. Unless you’re absolutely certain you want to keep it where it is, then put it into boxes or bags marked for rubbish, recycling, giving away, mending or storing elsewhere. If it’s too painful to do this all at once, aim for one room per week, or else do ten minutes a day – then make a habit of keeping on top of it, with regular sort-outs. You’ll be amazed how much extra space you find when your house is no longer crammed full of unnecessary clutter.
Step Two: Create super-efficient storage
Every nook and cranny around your home can be used to store your possessions in a neat and organised fashion. Built-in cupboards make the most of space, as they can be made to fit into the most awkward of corners, and stretched right to the ceiling for maximum capacity. Paint them the same colour as the walls and they will blend in brilliantly. On the other hand, off-the-shelf storage tends to be cheaper, more flexible and whether it’s a vintage French armoire or a cheap coloured plastic bucket, can be tailored to suit your style and budget.
Step Three: Lighten up
Start by ensuring that your windows are brilliantly clean, that curtains or blinds don’t block them, and that furniture is placed in just the right spots to make the most of natural light. As for artificial lighting, bear in mind that the traditional central pendant, used on its own, creates gloomy corners and offers no atmosphere. Instead, think about employing a more interesting combination of different types of lighting for flexibility, comfort and interest. For a quick upgrade on a budget, simply replace main light switches with dimmers, and plug in a selection of table or floor lamps at key points, to layer the lighting and emphasise special features.
Step Four: Be flexible with furniture
When you have run out of space, it makes sense to take a long, hard look at your furniture and make sure that every single piece is worth its place in your home. Simple, slender styles have the least impact in a small space, while pale or transparent pieces blend into the background, and anything raised on legs will make your room seem larger (because there is more visible floor area). In general, avoid deep upholstery, bulky outlines and fussy detailing. Special foldaway or compact furniture can help – but don’t sacrifice comfort or function – and with a touch of lateral thinking you can turn ordinary furnishings into dual-purpose ones, such as a chest of drawers that doubles as a bedside table or a coffee table that includes space to store magazines.
Step Five: Add glass and mirrors
With a little thought and not too much expense, simply hanging a mirror can create the illusion of space where it does not exist and double the apparent size of a room. One positioned opposite a window will distribute the maximum amount of natural light; near a light fitting, a mirror will reflect its brilliance around the room. Glass, too, provides vistas from room to room or from inside to out, really opening up a home. If you are having building work done, consider glass walls, floors or even stairs, but for quicker, cheaper solutions you could opt for glass doors, glass or acrylic furniture or see-through accessories such as lamp bases, door knobs and vases.
Step Six: Use clever colour
Colour can manipulate our sense of space enormously. Pale colours seem to recede, enhancing a sense of spaciousness, while darker colours absorb light and therefore appear more enclosing. Colours on the ‘cool’ spectrum, such as blue and green, are more distancing than ‘warm’ colours such as red and yellow. Whites, off-whites and cool pastels are, therefore, perfect for making small spaces seem larger – and they look sophisticated and contemporary, too, especially when combined with the natural textures of materials such as timber and stone.