With the right colours and some clever furnishings, small places can appear deceptively bigger
How to transform your inner space, according to Caroline Foran
Whether you're an apartment renter or a three-bed-semi dweller, creating the illusion of more space is always high on the list of priorities when decorating or styling your home. While, yes, we'd all love the luxury of expansive living quarters, the reality - given the cost of property in Ireland today - is that we're left to make the absolute most of every square inch of our existing real estate.
That said, it's not necessarily a negative: when you start to get smart about your home decor, considering everything from colour to furniture and how every piece of the decor puzzle is configured, smaller spaces can really work. You can find yourself living very comfortably in a home you once thought was too small. Read on for our five space-creating tricks.
There are two kinds of colours in this world: receding and advancing. Advancing colours are warm in tone - think red, orange, violet, yellow - and as the description suggests, they appear to come towards you, shrinking the space. These are colours chosen for a colder space to create a more cosy atmosphere. On the flipside, you have receding colours which do the exact opposite, drawing the walls back and making things appear more spacious than they really are. It's the oldest trick in the book but it's your absolute starting point if your space is closing in on you. But you're not just stuck with white walls; receding colours are cool in tone and include anything in the blue, green, grey family. Receding colours get a lot of bad press for making a space feel chillier, but this is nothing that can't be balanced with cosy textures elsewhere.
In small spaces, you'll ideally continue the same flooring throughout the ground level (not including the bathroom where tiles might be a must). It's a trick of the eye but it's one that really works. Wooden (real or laminate) floors will always trump carpet when it comes to space. This doesn't mean you can't create different vibes in different areas; using rugs (remember to choose receding colours) will help to zone your home, particularly if it's all open plan.
The more wall area kept free, the better, and the more floor we see, the better. A sofa that has a lower back will contribute to your goal, but more importantly, choose seating with legs. The same goes for any other furniture in the room. Legs are key. When it comes to armchairs, the mid-century modern-style options, where the arms are wooden and not massive chunks of fabric, will further enhance the illusion of space. Rule of thumb: always let the eye continue to the furthest possible point: through the armchair, under the sofa, across the room threshold, through the glass coffee table etc.
A house without mirrors feels somewhat claustrophobic. They draw in more light, make your space brighter and add at least a third of the size on (as far as your eye is concerned). For mirrors to have this effect, however, you have to go big, and choose something clean and unfussy. The same goes for wall art. In a small space, go the less is more but bigger route. This will create larger clean lines that satisfy the eye, again, ticking the boxes of your space-creating ambitions.
Ditch the curtains
The best case scenario for curtains is a wide open space where they can drop to the floor and be left undisturbed by other accessories or furniture or fuss. This isn't always possible in smaller spaces, unless you've majorly Marie Kondo'd your belongings. Where every inch counts, do away with them. You'll get back all of that hidden wall space. Again, if you're worried about losing visual warmth and cosiness, you can rectify this with textures elsewhere. Made-to-measure blinds are the way to go. Good quality roman blinds will give you the depth of texture you crave but there's nothing wrong with good old fashioned white roller blinds if the illusion of more space is your number one goal.