As our lives slowly become busier, a lot of us are finding ourselves living in smaller spaces than perhaps what we had once envisioned. Whether it’s your inner city job that calls for living in a small apartment, your busy schedule requiring a low-maintenance home, your budget being restricted, or you’ve opted to downsize now that the kids have moved out, living in smaller spaces does require some creative thinking.

As our lives slowly become busier, a lot of us are finding ourselves living in smaller spaces than perhaps what we had once envisioned. Whether it’s your inner city job that calls for living in a small apartment, your busy schedule requiring a low-maintenance home, your budget being restricted, or you’ve opted to downsize now that the kids have moved out, living in smaller spaces does require some creative thinking.

There are lots of ways in which to make a smaller space appear larger than it is, without having to buy miniature sized furniture. Careful planning and clever design can result in a cosy and comfortable space that still feels light and airy. By simply evoking the feeling of openness, you can turn your home from cramped to commodious.

So here are our ten fundamentals to small-scale living!

1. TINY LIVING DOESN’T MEAN TINY THINGS

Don’t be fooled by thinking that just because your space is small, your furniture and belongings also have to be. Sometimes a large sectional can make all the difference, and providing that you scale down your other pieces, one large piece can actually create a beautiful focal point. Still want the king sized bed? Cut out the bulky side tables, keep the room simple, and you can!

2. DON’T BE AFRAID OF COLOUR

All too often, people think that they have to stick to neutrals when decorating a small space, but pops of colour will actually bring life to a room and make it appear a little larger. A deep Mediterranean blue on the walls, for example, can blow out the boundaries and create a perception of depth.

3. USE MIRRORS AND GLASS

Making a small space appear grander depends on maximising light. Tucking mirrors into corners, hanging art in glass frames, and choosing glass coffee tables are all ways to create reflections and bounce light around the room.

4. THINK VERTICALLY

Don’t let vertical space go to waste, and help draw the eye up in a room. If the eye has more places to look, it creates the feeling of extra space, so hang curtains higher than the top of the window, display art up high, and take wallpaper right to the ceiling.

5. CONSIDER CUSTOMISATION

Made-to-measure closet systems, bespoke built-ins, storage nooks, and transforming tables are all clever ways to get multiple functions from your limited pieces. Going custom lets you control the space rather than the space control you.

6. CREATE ZONES

Think about what you’d like to do in a space – sleep, relax, work, eat, and so on – and then establish separate zones for each activity. Subtle demarcations can help a space feel more functional and can even evoke the feeling of having a room within a room.

7. SIGHT LINES

If you’re in the position to, consider tearing down a wall to enlarge a window and swap solid doors for glass to maximise your views. Alternatively, create visual stumbling blocks with new walls, or strategically placed screens and shelving that forces you to take in the space slowly.

8. GROUPING

Filling every nook and cranny will make your space appear cluttered, so group pieces together and then give them room to breathe. Instead of displaying everything you own, consider displaying on a seasonal system. Not only will this help declutter, it keeps your home interesting throughout the year.

9. STAY AWAY FROM EDGES

Pushing your furnishings up against the wall will make everything look and feel cramped. Leaving even just a few inches between your sofa and your wall will make your space look more open. To make the most of those inches, consider storage solutions that can slip behind furniture.

10. FEWER AND BIGGER

Instead of lots of little decorative accents, opt for just a few bigger items. Instead of a two seater sofa and two arm chairs, opt for one large couch to reduce the look of clutter.

15 EASY WAYS TO APPLY THESE FUNDAMENTALS

  • Colour code your bookshelf to create grouping,
  • Use a clear shower curtain or install a glass shower screen,
  • Leave your windows uncovered,
  • Choose one dramatic art piece,
  • Choose a glass desk or coffee table,
  • Switch down and pendant lights for lamps,
  • Use rugs to divide a room into sections,
  • Use different shades of the same colour to create unity,
  • Choose furniture with exposed legs,
  • Strategically place mirrors to reflect window light and views of the outdoors,
  • Use light colours on the wall and dark furnishings,
  • Wallpaper the ceiling,
  • Create a window between rooms by cutting out a section of wall,
  • Turn a closet into bunk beds or an office, and
  • Declutter benchtops with a chalkboard splashback.