A small flat in Cochin city; to call home has become the almost quintessential condition of modern-day urban living. Large cities around the world have their share of undesirable but essential one-bedroom apartment living spaces for those who either want a nomadic existence or cannot afford more space. The result is that living in a single space presents a singularly unattractive image.
A small space has been a fact of life that one would not so much choose as agree to settle for, given no alternative. But there have been a number of recent developments that are contributing to a change in the status of living in small spaces: the limited space need no longer be a place that you can simply make the best of, but a situation that you might conceivably delight in.
In most major cities, there are designers who are coping with the special demands of living in a tight space by using wit and imagination. Furniture manufacturers have also responded to what they perceive as a major trend in modern living arrangement. Many designs and ideas have been introduced in the market as the need has grown to make use of every inch.
- A new breed of designer has emerged, one who is ready and willing to help clients cope with adapting to their small living spaces. These designers delight in the difficult project, perceiving it as an interesting challenge. Let’s look into some points to make your small space function well:
- Create a “sub-architecture”, a design scheme that combines function with visual interest and includes ways to integrate lighting, storage and other integral needs. You need a space to get organized and to work in the morning and convert to a place to entertain friends in the evening.
- Come up with moving parts – Swing out bookcases, sliding panels, storage cubes on castors and beds on pulleys. Construct different levels as a design device – to provide extra seating and floor space as well as creating surfaces that can have multiple functions.
- Fantastic economy and planning makes full use of a small area. The living room can be screened off from the rest of the space by lowering blinds. Storage space could be built beneath the bed platform and the area beside the bed serves as a desktop by day.
- Try to keep every surface in your home white – walls, floors, shelves and so on. This helps to disguise the small dimensions of a room.
- Decorate your home with minimalistic curios. Ecoration should only consist of a few displayed favourite objects. Being well-organized and scrupulously tidy are the prerequisites for living in one small room.
- The bathrooms can feature an aluminum panel projecting from the wall, which hides pipes and stored items and can carry a shelf for toiletries. The fittings hang from the panel and the floor is rubberized for easy cleaning.
- Custom build a kitchen island carrying all basic equipment – sink and drainer, worktop, cooking top(burners), storage drawers, oven and dishwasher (if needed). Clean lines, open space and an absolute minimum of objects and displayed possessions make this the ultimate in minimal living.
- The key element in enlivening a hall is light, which should, if possible, be natural. If there is no way of bringing natural light directly into your hall, consider opening doors or interior windows into other parts of the house. Light should be used to pick out features, such as seats, shelves and pictures.
- If your desperate to expand your space in your house, you may have to seriously consider using the hall as an alternative room. The ‘found’ space in a hall – alcove or a blind corner – can be used as a small study, work room or even a kitchenette. Another use of this space is to store items such as books, bicycles and tools.
- Mirrors make space seem larger and more intriguing, and, if they are placed opposite or adjacent to windows, will increase the amount of light in a room.
- Vertical stripes will make a room seem taller. Painting the ceiling a lighter shade than the walls will make the room seem more taller. Shading also helps, so that the walls darken as they rise to meet the ceiling; creating the feel of a wide space. This is a subtler approach but needs skill to do well.
- Curtains may seem the obvious way to dress your windows. But they are not always the best way. In small spaces, windows may look better with metal shutters, plain venetian blinds or a latticework screen. It provides the privacy you need and at the same time the quality of light in the room.
- If your room is small, consider dual-purpose or adaptable furniture: a trestle table, sofa bed, extra folding chairs that can, if necessary, be stored away when not in use. Simplicity offers the best use of a small space – attractive basic colours, functional furniture and little ease in design.
- Achieve an airy atmosphere through a pale color scheme and angelked fittings. Small spaces can facilitate multi-level design. Contrasts between the wooden beams and reflective surfaces provides a dramatic impact. Good design makes the best use of limited space with strong built-in furniture, decorated to give an air of sophistication. Beds raised above cupboards, create a sense of large space.
Expansive open-plan apartments in unusual buildings have given living in small spaces a new lease of life and a far more respectable, not to say highly desirable, image. Small spaces will not appeal to everyone. But for those `who delight in the sense of being able to survey the whole house from a single vantage point, the lesson to be learned is that the size of the space does not necessarily determine the level of satisfaction. The person who, in search of more space to spread out, moves on from a single-room apartment to a cavernous loft may find that it was the comfortable coziness of that small apartment that made living in one room do satisfying.