Space is often considered a luxury, especially as urban dwellings become increasingly sought-after across the nation and the average land size is considerably reduced. However, uncovering the potential of that space can result in a clever and cohesive home.
There are a number of “tricks of the trade” that can be adopted in smaller spaces to maximise roominess without cluttering the floorplan or precious living areas. Whether it’s clever storage or unique space-saving techniques, it all comes back to minimising your big and bulky pieces and making furniture perform some double duties.
Giuseppe Zumbo, design consultant at Poliform, says that “tailoring the space to suit your needs and maximising the area you to have to work with is paramount when thinking about space-saving solutions. Ensure you choose the appropriate storage system to maximise usage over its entire lifetime.”
Space saving isn’t necessarily just about storage though, it’s also about being a little cunning and inventive. You only have to look up! Think about wall space as an underutilised space-saving resource. Shelving, bookcases, cabinetry and plasmas can all be attached to a wall, leaving valuable floor space for other furniture pieces.
Sliding doors and other trickery
Let’s start with sliding doors. Obvious? Unfortunately not to everyone and the adoption of this clever little deception can be a space saver’s new best friend. A traditional hinged door can make a space feel a lot smaller than it really is.
According to Aimee Turner, interior designer at Arkhefield, “Sliding doors save on space and allow for greater amounts of room, especially in small spaces such as bathrooms and laundries. Integrating the doors into the existing materials, fixtures and/or fittings makes for a clean, seamless finish.”
Aimee also suggests the idea of adding an external sliding door rather than inserting into the wall cavity. This can save on costs while also allowing for a greater door size so that two smaller rooms may be integrated into one large space.
Laundries are high-traffic areas but are often squeezed into tight spaces within the home and the use of a sliding door allows for ease of access and freedom to move.
Let’s not forget study areas, which often house a whole lot of clutter. Creating a recessed study nook with a sliding door facilitates the hiding away of computers, books, pens and paper.
Another stunt to swindle some space is to build in joinery which doubles as a seat and encompasses storage underneath. “This is a great way to integrate more storage by utilising ‘dead space’,” says Aimee.
Stairs definitely have more than one use — they are a storage goldmine. Nicola Bird of Nicola Bird Interiors & Design says to “build shelves into stairs, even if they are open, and another option is to build drawers in each step”.
Matthew Gribben, principal of Matthew Gribben Architecture, suggests building a wine rack under the stairs. Most staircases are positioned away from light and heat in Australian houses so they make a perfect spot to house wine.
Nicola also suggests scanning the home for dead spaces that might be transformed into shelves. Wrap shelves around corners and place them up high with a movable ladder. Think about creating a wall of shelves and making a feature of it.
Kitchens always store way more stuff than we care to admit, so it’s par for the course that storage and space-saving solutions are essential in the busiest part of the house.
Utilise every bit of height and volume in the room by installing floor-to-ceiling cupboards. Full-height/operable wall joinery is key to the success of a kitchen.
“Ensure you store everyday items within reach and things that aren’t used on a regular basis can be stored up high,” suggests Matthew Gribben.
Start with thinking that everything has its place in the kitchen and group the various elements together, for example tall with tall, long with long and small with small.
To store utensils and cutlery, Giuseppe of Poliform suggests that instead of having three drawers in a cabinet, have two external drawers with a concealed inner drawer. This will house the smaller cutlery without taking up space in the unit.
Giuseppe recommends utilising every inch of the benchtop too. Poliform has a product called the “equipped splashback”, which is a space at the rear of the benchtop that runs all the way along and looks almost like a small trough. This is where items such as oils and spices can be stored and even a knife rack can be integrated into it.
Some other ideas to save a little space in the kitchen include installing appliances that have compact versions. They have the same function but fit into smaller spaces. Another quirky but clever idea is a retractable rangehood. They pull out only when needed which means clean lines are maintained throughout the kitchen.
Nicola, from Nicola Bird Interiors & Design, suggests filling those odd spaces left at the end of standard-size cupboards with a wine rack made from MDF. Space can also be made inside cupboards to hang brooms or other long items.
Bathrooms, like many other rooms in the house, are shrinking, so storage and space-saving solutions are paramount.
“Making your bathroom a wet-room with floor drainage means you can have a walk-in shower without the need for a step-over shower tray, saving space and achieving a cleaner, more modern look,” states Nicola Bird. “You can go one step further and do away with the shower screen if you really want to go minimalist.”
She also says that “vanities can be bulky, especially in small bathrooms. Try replacing these with clever built-in storage in the walls or keep shelves high and install floating sinks and toilets.”
Arkhefield’s Aimee Turner advocates the use of wall recesses in bathrooms. “They are a great use of space — especially for storing shampoo and conditioner bottles,” she says. “Having mirrored cupboard doors also increases the sense of space in the room.”
Seating ledges in showers are great for seating and shelving bathroom products, and integrated seat joinery can be used as storage for towels, a seat when getting changed, and also for keeping clothes off the floor while showering.
Matthew, from Matthew Gribben Architecture, suggests that “in space-challenged times, laundries no longer have to be in a separate room. They can fit easily into a cupboard or under the stairs.” Laundry shoots are also becoming more popular, which means no more dirty clothes taking up space on the floor!
Aimee Turner recommends installing a built-in clothes rail in the higher, unused space of the laundry. They’re great for airing clothes or drying delicates — and it’s a space that would otherwise be unused.
So, when thinking space, get a bit crafty because there’s a lot of cheating to be done to achieve more capacity out of your home.