Last month I wrote an article for Wayfair all about how to make the most of your space. It’s something I get asked about a lot during design consultations. “Can you help us find a place for **insert random but completely necessary item here**.”
It seems we’d all like more space. I know I would. So I thought it might be pretty useful to share some of my solutions here with you.
Use the height of the room wherever possible. Lots of smaller units and bookcases lined up side by side take up so much floor space. And more and more stuff gets plonked on top until you’re living with the “Leaning Tower of Niknaks.” Keep your floor-plan as open and free as possible. Have cupboards or open shelves built into your alcoves, not just in your living room but in your kitchen/diner too. Shelves fitted above doorways can house endless boxes of books or CD’s without taking up any living space at all.
Above the bulk-head in the “box room” is nearly always a wasted area (and often looks a bit crap). Shortly after moving in, we ripped out the rather unsightly, half height fitted cupboard (built with the house by the looks of it). We replaced it with neat shelving built all the way up to the ceiling. This gave us a huge storage area that was a) easily accessible and b) took up literally no floor space. The distance between the shelves was pre-planned to house the storage boxes we’d selected. A socket was fitted into the bottom section meaning we could house the wireless printer too. Nobody likes to look at printers, but we need them handy. This solved our problem perfectly.
Boxes, trunks and baskets
Additional storage boxes can be added to tops of wardrobes, underneath beds or even stack up to make a casual side table. Each box, storing away things like USB cables, photographs, keepsakes or printer inks (yes I have a box for printer inks). And the best thing is… you’ve got so many cool designs to choose from. Vintage cases, fabric covered boxes with metallic detailing, rattan baskets and wicker trunks, old leather suitcases or geometric boxes. There is something to match every decor, in every shape and size, ready to house all your bit and bobs in style.
The blue metal suitcase from under the bed and wicker basket above are both from Habitat. Both purchased purely to house bed linen as part of the Blue Room project. Not only adding storage but detail, texture and colour to the space.
Get rid and de-clutter
Nearly everyone claims they don’t have enough storage. My folks just had an extension, after deciding their three bedroom house wasn’t big enough for the two of them **a-hem**. Well it’s not lack of storage. It’s all that “stuff” you’ve got. We’re all guilty of hoarding, keeping something because we might need it one day. Well you won’t. And in the super rare occurrence where you might need that second back-up umbrella (the one with the broken handle you were going to fix) you’ll forget you even kept it and buy another. So get rid. Charity it, recycle it, gift it, sell it, whatever. “Stuff” always ruins a space. Just downsizing your worldly possessions makes every room appear larger, sleeker and better planned. And a well planned room is a HUGE part of good design.
The Kallax unit from Ikea has been included in more projects that I can remember. All of these toys, games, bits and bats once lived in boxes on the floor. By, downsizing and housing everything in one unit gave this four year old a HUGE bedroom with space to play in. Perfect. You can read more about this project here.
If you ever redecorate and update a space and find you’ve not got a place for magazines, bags, keys, shoes, post… you know, the things we use throughout the day, then the room re-design didn’t really work so spectacularly. It’s all well and good a room looking great for a week after a project, but good design means it will continue looking good when it’s lived in. After all, when you get down to the bones of what a home is. It’s a place to be, exist, live. Function beats form in the real world. But my job is to bring some serious form to the party.
Say goodbye to the “floordrobe”. How hard is it to fit hooks next to your bed and keep your floor space clear?
Most people already have what they need, but it’s in the wrong room. Go around your home. What’s not fulfilling its function? And why? Can it go elsewhere and make itself more useful? A small chest of drawers makes an excellent bedside table housing all the things you could ever need at hand. Tissues, remote controls, books, phone and laptop chargers, ear plugs (for snoring partners), but can also store your PJ’s. Think outside of the box with your furniture selection. Maybe your perfect bedside table isn’t a bedside table at all. Mine wasn’t. This rule applies to anything and everything home and design. Ask yourself, “Does it solve the problem? Does it look right?” If you can answer these with a “yes”, you’ve nailed it.
The sexiest toy storage you ever did see.
These vintage index drawers in our living room house an enormous haul of dominoes, cars, light sabres and wooden tools. AND it looks shit hot, sits pretty with a glass of wine on top and will be with us long after toys have left the building. What’s not to love?
If you’ve got plans for your home this year, THE most important rule to remember is plan ahead. What do you need your room to “hold”? What don’t you want to see? Find a place for it to hide away. And what can realistically go? Make a list and say goodbye. We’d all pay for a larger house, but find it so hard to let go of the things that make our homes smaller.
I really hope this will help some of you get your space back. Are there any other top tips or rules i’ve completely missed out? If so, please let me know. Space is precious. It’s all about the square metre peeps.