Think inside the box
The humble box room has been a design hurdle in many Irish homes. Tucked away upstairs, it often has two things going against it - space and awkward angles. Putting aside a weekend to tackle this tricky room will promote a real sense of achievement, while adding a new dimension - not to mention value - to your home.
With any small space, there are a few unbreakable rules to abide by when it comes to decorating the box room. Allowing light through will promote a sense of space, so invest in pieces that have legs and accessories that are see-through. Introduce light blinds instead of curtains, play with mirrors and decorate with soft furnishings that bounce the light around. Multi-functional pieces are also key in the box room, especially if the angles are skewed. Look to pieces that double up. Decor, as well as storage, is essential, as is hanging as much as you can on the walls.
Once you have these rules in mind, there really is no limit to what the box room can be, so don't feel chained to thinking it needs to be a bedroom. Get creative and think walk-in wardrobe, toy room or chill-out/tech-free area. However, many of us will, automatically, revert to turning this space into a spare bedroom.
"Try to avoid bulky bed frames," suggests Louise Higgins, interior designer with Aspire Design. "A wall-mounted headboard with a bed base is perfect for small rooms. For extra smart design, consider a divan base with built-in storage drawers. Draw attention away from the dimensions of your room by creating a feature of the wall your bed rests against. Consider a feature wallpaper or paint colour or an elaborate headboard. And, when it comes to lighting in your box room, consider hanging pendants rather than table lamps as this will open the space while creating a stylish design element."
Kathryn Payne, interior design manager at Ikea Dublin, thinks storage should be at the forefront of your design scheme. "Where the footprint is limited, change your mind set - think vertically," she says. "Is there space at the bottom of your wardrobe? Add some storage boxes. They come in lots of sizes so you're sure to find one that fits the space and is ideal for storing t-shirts, jumpers and socks. If you find there's lots of space at the bottom of the wardrobe, try adding storage with castors - these can be rolled out, giving you easy access to your belongings."
If another bedroom is the last thing you need, you might consider turning you box room into a laundry room. Louise advises: "This would be heaven, especially in a two-storey house; it will save you having to bring your bedlinen downstairs. Ensure that you have plenty of hanging space for clothes and include a dedicated area for ironing."
Transforming your box room into a space that heightens your home's functionality and makes life easier, gives purpose to the room that has been ignored for too long.
Anna Shelswell-White is editor of House and Home magazine