design ideas

Over the past year, our homes have been working harder than ever. The challenges of working from home, and homeschooling have highlighted a need for functional, versatile, and streamlined spaces. If your living room, kitchen or bedroom is cramped and cluttered, the last thing you'll want to do is spend time in there. That is unless you trick your eye into thinking the space is bigger than it appears. It's not magic; it's just smart styling and layout strategy.

Consider the following tips to maximise every inch of space – and don’t worry, no matter how small your home, functionality does not need to come at the expense of aesthetics. It’s all about working with what you have, taking these basics into account and understanding what works for you, your lifestyle, and your home.

Go vertical
You don’t need to be a minimalist or hide away your treasured objects and collections to optimise small spaces. Going vertical is the golden rule, by utilising wall space rather than floor space. Floor to ceiling wall shelving and a mix of open and closed storage provides an illusion of space for our eyes. A flat-screen mounted on the wall looks slick and eliminates the need for a TV stand or armoire. Hanging curtains as high as the wall allows can also add more height to a room. Remember to always try to have the design follow the architecture.

Mirrors work wonders
Clever use of mirrors in a small space will instantly make it appear bigger, opening it up and making the best use of light. Mirrors are a small space’s best friend. They can be used within a gallery wall or on a wall adjacent to a window to make the space seem larger and brighter. Be it decorative or large and installed, the power of mirrors help make a small space feel open and airy.

Choose a large rug
Choosing a larger rug, even in a bold pattern, is a trick that makes a room feel bigger. Unlike smaller rugs, the large size doesn't visually break up the floor. This can also help anchor the space and give you a good staple piece to design the rest of the room around. Corner seating can also help you get more out of your space.

Invest in functional furniture
Movable, convertible, flexible furniture is another design tactic that can help a small space stand out. Where possible, choose furniture with a dual purpose, such as a bed with storage underneath. Look at the space you have and consider how furniture will improve the functionality of the room. Perhaps two smaller coffee tables would be a better option than a large and imposing one. This way they can be moved around, providing better flexibility.

Let the light pour in
If your living room has access to a ton of natural light, don't block it out with dark curtains. Let light pour in to make the space feel more airy and open. Even if you don't have large windows and tons of sunlight, choose lighter shades to maximize the light you do have. Semi-sheer shades