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Simple interior design tips for small spaces

Over the past decade or so, as the price of living has become increasingly high, there has been a global shift in people downsizing their homes from large freestanding houses to smaller living spaces. The first micro apartments are starting to emerge along the waterfront in Cape Town and this will soon become a common occurrence throughout the rest of South Africa. A common theme or  stigma around living in small spaces is that they feel small and confined, but with good design, that does not have to be the case at all.  Let’s explore five topics that speak on how to maximise small spaces to create fully functioning homes without the unnecessary clutter.

1. Space Planning is Key

Whether it be a new build or a renovation, space planning plays an integral part in the design of a small home. The goal is to optimise the space as best as possible, making sure there are no unused areas or “dead zones”. A way to ensure this is by finding the overlaps between areas, and then grouping them together – for example: Kitchen and Dining Room – often in kitchens we have an island with seating space and then designate the dining area as more “formalised” seating. Rather overlap the two spaces – lose the kitchen island seating (or even the whole island) and bring the dining area into the same space. This then allows the dining area to accommodate two different seating needs, and the table can even be use for additional prep space if need be. Keeping the space as open planned as possible creates the illusion of a larger floorplan. With that being said, making use of temporary space dividers can do a world of wonder if you are wanting to define areas from one another without permanently separating them.

kitchen with table and chairs

2. Take a Minimalist Approach

Select just a few “hero” pieces and keep the rest of the furniture simple. Duplicating colour, texture or materials in various zones can also help in creating unity within the space so that even if they are in different parts of the space, it helps it read as one. Light can do wonders in making a small space feel larger than it is. Positioning mirrors in key areas or using reflective surface materials can be a big aid in bringing natural light into the home, resulting in the space feeling bigger.

unmade bed with curtains in the background that are ceiling height

3. Visual illusions are your best friend

Visual illusions can really make a space feel and look a lot larger than what it really is – simple things such as raising the eyeline and playing with depth can make a big difference in how a space feels. One of the ways we can raise the eyeline is – rather than installing curtains right above an opening, raising them to the ceiling height instead gives the impression of a higher ceiling and therefore a larger space. The use of colour to define space can go a long way, by defining an area of your open plan living area or room with a bold colour can create the illusion of depth, while subtly making the areas read as different spaces.

overlapping kitchen and dining room with additional storage underneath staircase

4. Don’t neglect storage

Often when downsizing one of the biggest issues we find is that storage is the first thing to go – this doesn’t have to be the case! Storage space needs to be considered from the start, it can be brought in through the use of dual-purpose furniture pieces and built-in joinery. If considered correctly storage can become apart of the built fabric of the home, making sure that any clutter can be tucked away and hidden from view.

living room with couch and coffee table and large cowhide rug

5. Selective Décor

When adding the final touches to your home, the slightest considerations in your décor can make a big impact in making the space feel larger. Always go with an oversized rug – if the rug is too small it can make the space feel cluttered. Make use of vertical space to hang décor pieces. Rather than crowding the area with trinkets or freestanding pieces, consider creating a gallery wall in which items can be displayed vertically. This not only adds definition to the space, it also removes additional items which make an area feel overworked.

The perks of having a micro homes are attractive to many. With some smart decision making and out of the box thinking there are endless ways you can make your small space work for you. Good interior design is key to a successful space – don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help with your space!

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About Ilsa van Niekerk

Ilsa is a qualified and experienced interior designer in Ballito,  South Africa. She graduated with her degree in Interior Design from the University of Pretoria and is the owner of Interior Edge with over a decade’s worth of experience in the interior design industry.

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