By Elisha Wadick
In Australia’s big cities, more of us than ever carve out our lives within the confines of small spaces. From the much-loved, character-packed but slightly cramped homes that typify our period architecture, to the cosiness of modern high-density apartments, urban living can present some unique interior decorating challenges.
The good news? Comfort, functionality and a sense of space are all possible in the smallest of rooms. Truly! You can achieve bright, open proportions and great workability via a couple of clever tricks that I’ll explore downpage. And it’s worth remembering that a modest budget is no impediment to a practical, beautiful room; just a few tweaks can make a huge difference to the way you live.
It’s said that people tend not to look up beyond eye height – and that’s easy to believe, when you consider the way we decorate our walls. Artworks are positioned for the bare minimum of eyeball exertion; top shelves of bookcases accommodate even the shortest members of our families (not that they shouldn’t!). And high ceilings? Well, you may as well forget that the last metre or so of wall space exists, so rarely is that gorgeously lofty canvas used to its full potential.
When you put your vertical surfaces to work, not only are you increasing your clear floor area, you’re also maximising the amount of stuff you can fit into the room. This is excellent if you’re a reader, or a collector, or if you simply like the warmth of a home that puts your personality on full display. (Hey, just because we live in tiny spaces doesn’t mean we’re all minimalists!) The sleekest and most dramatic way to achieve the most surface for the least impact on your room’s footprint is to take your shelving right to the top. And don’t forget a ladder for the shorties!
This tip is really an extension of the last – it’s all about maximising surface area, only this time, I’m talking tables. Why waste valuable floor space with lots of separate surfaces when you can stack a bunch of them up? Nest tables, multi-shelved coffee tables and drawers galore do the trick here. I adore these cubic nest tables from Coco Republic.
Image via Andrew Galynsky
Just like a great outfit that takes you from day to night, a flexible decorating plan will double your room’s functionality – and when every square metre is precious, that’s worth its weight in saffron. (Seriously – that stuff is way more expensive than gold!) For a scheme that will work equally well in formal and casual situations, try pairing classic furniture with a playful palette. Don’t be scared of strong shapes and eye-catching pattern; compact spaces can handle bold statements in small doses, all the better if there’s lots of natural light pouring in.
Photographed by Zeke Ruelas. Image via Style by Emily Henderson
And last but not least, your ‘small space’ isn’t just a design project, of course – it’s your home. So always choose colours, furniture, finishes and accessories that you’ll love to live with!
Elisha Wadick runs Sydney-based Room Service Interiors.