independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Dermot Bannon's top 10 tips for successful compact living

Aim high: The higher you can go with ceilings, the better. Susan's awe-inspiring, double-height extension gives this ordinary terraced cottage a real edge and makes it seem much larger. Turn on a light show: Natural light is key to giving the illusion of space, so maximise the available light and an architect will help optimise the light and manipulate the space. n Keep walls as bright and light as possible: Splashes of colour can be introduced through kitchen units and accessories; rather than relying on a central fixture, spread lots of different lamps around to create atmosphere. Less is more: Simplicity is key in a small space. Keep materials to a bare minimum for a streamlined effect. Have just one type of timber everywhere and be restrained about the palette. Susan's house wouldn't have worked if the rooms had been painted different colours. Get smart about stowaway storage: Corridors are great places for built-in storage for vacuum cleaners, coats and shoes. If you design inadequate storage, you can keep an open-plan area and small rooms uncluttered. Go for spray-painted white storage for a barely-there effect that's wallet friendly. Use it or lose iT: Plan a function for every space. If a spare bedroom is used only occasionally, think of turning it into an office or extending a living area into it. If you have a room over the main living space that is redundant, consider transforming it into a double-height space. Don't go for a top-heavy look in kitchenS: Overhead presses can make a space seem smaller and usually end up with the biscuit tin sitting on top. Instead, build appliances into tall units. Express the kitchen in shapes/blocks that don't give an overly fitted look. Pay attention to detaiL: Splash out on things you touch and feel, such as the worktop, taps and handles. I would rather go without a countertop for a couple of years than settle for a cheap, laminate finish. Because the surfaces you're dealing with are restricted, splurge on high-spec materials, such as a natural stone or hardwood flooring -- try iroko or walnut -- and set against white walls. There's no need to get into a tight spot with furniturE: Avoid big, thick arms and backs on furniture. Sofas with legs and glass-topped tables will make a room seem larger, while mirrors will double the glamour factor and sense of space. Blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoorS: If you've any kind of a garden, use it and open up the house to it. Even if you can just squeeze in a table and chairs or simply a few pot plants -- and even if it doesn't benefit from sunlight -- it can provide another room, no matter how space starved.

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