Small apartments can easily feel claustrophobic. But this needn’t be the case. We asked three experts to share some design ideas that create an illusion of space without losing that much-needed element of luxe.
Design element: Rugs
Expert: Charles Gonsenhauser, owner of Gonsenhausers Fine Rugs
The goal: One of the most important aspects is to choose the right-sized rug. You can either use smaller rugs to define different areas or a larger rug to ground the space.
A rule of thumb is that all furniture pieces should fit onto the rug. An acceptable alternative is that the front feet of bigger furniture pieces, such as your sofa, should rest on the rug.
Colour on cue
Lighter shades make a room feel bigger, as they reflect both natural and artificial light. So open up your space by choosing a rug in lighter tones of your favourite colour.
Pattern play all the way
With patterned rugs, the size of the pattern should be in proportion with the room’s dimensions. While this is no hard and fast rule, larger-patterned rugs are for larger rooms.
TIP: Rules are there to be broken. Bold-patterned rugs can pack a punch in small spaces, provided you follow a clean-lined, uncluttered design narrative.
Design element: Lighting
The expert: Guy Harris of Newport Lighting
The goal: A skillful mix of clever lighting sources can add a sense of depth and dimension to pint-sized spaces.
On the right track
Track lighting is the most ergonomic and hardest-working lighting option for small spaces. Its ceiling installation allows for more room at floor level. Plus, it offers flexibility in terms of configuration. Direct the light wherever you require it to create task lighting, spotlights and ambient lighting.
Mix and match
Standing, table and clamp lamps, as well as wall lights, are essential space-saving lighting solutions in tight spaces.
Wall and all
Wall-mounted lights are savvy solutions to maximising floorspace. Long-armed and adjustable options allow you to direct the light where it’s required.
Design elements: Furniture and accessories
The expert: Alon Sachs, co-owner of Mobelli Furniture + Living
The goal: One of the biggest mistakes is to clutter tight spaces with tiny furniture pieces. Fewer larger-scaled pieces will make the space look bigger and feel more functional.
Choose a well-designed sofa
A cosy L-shape sofa is a must, especially for long or narrow spaces. Just make sure it’s not too bulky.
Another great option is the modern glammed up version of the sleeper couch. With new design techniques and available materials, sleeper couches have drastically improved in comfort and style.
Tip: In terms of colour, a neutral sofa doesn’t take up too much visual space and creates a sense of cohesion. Don’t forget to add a few scatter cushions to create a warm, cosy feeling.
Take a multi-purpose approach
Dual-purpose furniture pieces are worth their weight in gold. Nesting tables do double duty as coffee tables and side tables. Plus these striking visual centre pieces can easily be moved around when needed.
Tip: Be bold and skip coffee and side tables altogether and add an ottoman or two. These versatile furniture pieces can be transformed into a coffee table or as extra seating.
Don’t forget to:
Create depth and dimension: A mirror works its magic in a small space by reflecting light and creating an illusion of extra meterage.
Go big on decorative items: Oversized dramatic pendant lamps and wall-to-wall artworks can make a small, narrow space look far bigger.
Add clever shelving: Use floor-to-ceiling shelving units to subdivide your space. Plus, they provide extra storage.