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Living large in a small space

A small space is intimate and easier to maintain than a large house, and lots of homeowners would prefer to live in a comfy loft than a sprawling bungalow. There are some tips on how to make the most of tight spaces if you choose to live in a small home.

Small homes are excellent sanctuaries — they're cheaper to heat or to cool, produce lower carbon footprints, and are easier to clean and maintain. The only downside to small homes is the small space, especially if you have kids, or pets that take up precious space. Here are five ideas to try on for size.

Maximise every inch of space

Most storage units like bookshelves and wardrobes are only 1.8 metres tall, leaving some space above that you can still use. The best solution to utilising available space in close quarters is to use cabinetry that extends to the ceiling and storage spaces that use the full width of the walls. Open shelving is a cheaper option for extra storage; decorate them with colourful books for contrast. You don’t really need to have a cupboard installed even if it’s what most of us are used to for hiding unwanted stuff.

Make furniture do double duty

Small spaces require homeowners to be restrained in furnishing living space. The best small spaces limit furniture down to the bare, functional necessities. You don’t need an entire lounge suite; a small sofa and a special chair will often be enough. Super-low sofas help a small room feel more spacious too and can double as a bed if you decide not to sleep in the bedroom. A small table can function as either study place and dining table. Multi-function furniture is your ideal choice.

Mirrors stretch space

Use feature mirrors to bounce light around to give the impression of more space. Glossy floor tiles or shiny cabinets are other ways to bounce light if you’re spooked by mirrors. Frosted glass doors also let in light and seem to open up space in cramped quarters.

Lights highlight intimate spaces

You might live in a small space with lots of natural light during the day but choosing how to light certain areas during the night will give the room character and intimate spaces. Instead of using an overhead light source that blankets the entire space, you can use wall sconces for diffused light, downlights to emphasise an intimate space and recessed lights to bring focus to certain areas of the room. Even in close quarters, using multiple lighting sources will seem to make the room bigger than it is.

Clutter Control

Instead of crowding out your small space with tonnes of photos, vases, ornaments, books and other paraphernalia, select a corner of the room where you can designate a display area. Keeping your ‘stuff’ here reduces clutter and gives more visual impact to the room. Add hooks or small baskets in the backs of doors for belts and bags. To save space, you can even use your oven as extra storage space for baking trays and dishes.

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