THE greatest wealth is to live contentedly with as little as possible. As studio apartments and SoHo units become more popular in urban centres, property consultants The Makeover Guys and Yijo Phoon of The Design Studio give StarMetro their professional take on how to turn little places into liveable spaces.
There is no room for estimates. Know exactly the width and length of everything before you buy anything. Crucial features which should be included at the planning stage are curtains and rails, beds, sofas, kitchen counters and wall shelves.
1.Measure and remeasure
There is nothing quite as disappointing (for you as well as the delivery man) when you have to return that lovely lime green divan because it doesn’t fit into the space you had selected.
2. Let there be light
From a design point of view, a room should have three working lights for the sake of ambience. Instead of having one strong source like an overhead fluorescent tube, think table lamps and hanging lamps. Generally, they should be spread out to give the eye a sense of perspective. This gives the impression of depth and creates a spacious feel.
3. Mirror, mirror on the wall
Not so you can just see who is the fairest of them all, but a well-placed mirror can reflect light from a window as well as give the illusion of a bigger room.
Invest in a large, wall-length mirror with a beautiful frame or cover an entire wall with it. If that is beyond your budget, get the smaller ones and hang them like art pieces.
4. Go for glass
Glass instead of solids in space partitions not only adds class. Visually, it allows for an unbroken flow of space and takes away that crammed feel.
For private spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms, Phoon advises using frosted glass as glowing lights from within will give the room depth.
5. Multiuse furniture
Think multifunctional and flexible. For example, a pouffe that does triple duty as a storage box, coffee table and leg rest or a bar counter that doubles as dinner table as well as a work station.
Dwellers of small spaces who frequently have visitors in the form of outstation relatives should invest in a good sofa bed.
6. Shelve it
“Drive” your stuff up the wall with shelves! Small living spaces are no place for large cupboards and such. Maximise the use of your wall space instead.
If creatively applied, wall shelves can give a space that designer-feel and you can even have them made according to your own specifications.
Consider having shelves above your sofa, over a bathroom or above a door. Use it to house your TV set, store a DVD collection and as the answer to your storage needs.
7. Give minimalism a try
The clean lines of modern furniture design are most effective in creating the impression of spaciousness as well as give its users comfort.
The expert’s advice is to avoid Rococo or Renaissance-style furniture as the fussy details have a tendency to “swallow up” valuable space.
8. Keep (a lot of) things small but think big (once in a while)
That giant teddy bear may look real cute but realistically, it is going to take up space. So settle for a Mr Bean-size teddy instead.
But one should also remember that thinking big once in awhile, like when it comes to a plush sofa or a queen-size bed, can do wonders to make your place a cosy haven for rest and relaxation; not to mention saving you from a sore back.
9 No to clutter and crowd
If your space is meant to house only two, do not try to double or triple the occupancy rate.
Host gatherings if you like but be brave enough to say “No” to requests for long-term stays.
More importantly, do not hoard things or buy unnecessary stuff. Give away toys and books that you or your children do not use anymore.
And lastly, stay neat. A floor full of clutter is bound to make a space feel cramped.
10. Set a realistic budget and stick to it
Designers advise sticking to a set budget plan when it comes to home decoration. Do not get carried away by the crystal chandelier or that art nouveau chair if your resources are not infinite.
You may just end up sleeping on the floor because you may have ran out of cash by the time you want to purchase the bedframe and mattress.