The problem with “small spaces” is that everyone has a different sense of what “small” means. There are lots of folks with pretty large homes where they seem to be struggling with storage and there are folks in pretty tight spaces that seem to work out storage just fine. I suppose it’s based on what you are used to that makes the difference to the space.
When we first came to look at this space, the owners had yet to take possession, but we were pretty sure we were going to have to remove at least one wall, so we could have three defined spaces of the main floor, but still feeling like one large room. We figured out our first challenge when we visited the large house they were moving from. They wanted a house where they could lock the door and head off. The old house was too much work now that the kids were off to school or work.
The wall that separated the small kitchen from the dining room and the living room made for a cramped and cut off kitchen from the rest of the space. It also made the main floor look smaller than it needed to be. The lack of storage the kitchen provided was another challenge. She liked to be able to cook, and while there wasn’t enough seating for a big group, the function of the kitchen was still very important to her. Storage was clearly going to be something to be addressed in this area. We also had to find space for the many books they collected over the years.
In any small open-concept space, you have to create zones that will act as specific rooms. The back of the sofa in this case, creates the hallway that allows you to get from the front door to the kitchen and stairs going to the second floor of the house. The electrical box for the chandelier of the dining room indicates the locations of the dining table as does the furniture that sits in that space. The kitchen peninsula separates the dining room from the kitchen but they are open to each other. When you’re planning this kind of space you have to figure out first how the rooms will be used and then how people will walk around in the rooms. For example, no one is comfortable walking though the middle of a living room to get to the kitchen, so they will search for a way around it. The furniture and carpets are the objects that indicate the rooms and hallways, hence the traffic patterns. If you put the furniture in odd spots, the room will always feel “awkward”.
The space is still one big room the way to make it work is to repeat element from one section of the room in other sections of the room. We needed more storage in the kitchen so we extended the kitchen cabinets into the dining room using the same finish that was used on the original kitchen cabinets. We didn’t want to have the dining room to feel like it was stuck in the kitchen, so we implied a side board in the centre of the dining cabinets where we put a large mirror to reflect the room and make it feel bigger. Behind the mirror we painted the wall in the same colour that the fireplace wall is painted.
Basically by pulling the kitchen into the dining room, the dining room into the kitchen, the living into the dining, creates a visual balance between the rooms.
In the living room, we centred the furniture on the fireplace. The fireplace wasn’t perfectly centred on the wall it was on, so to deal with that issue and the need for books and more storage, we built cabinets and shelves on either side of the fireplace. The books shelves are different levels and sizes to create a more interesting wall and to make it different from the kitchen cabinets. The size differences also hide the different sizes on either side of the fireplace. The bottom sections of the shelves are cabinets that have no hardware on the doors, to maintain a clean look. We get storage for the kitchen and the dining room as well as a bunch of other things required on the main floor. The sofa and chairs create a living room and what remains are three different rooms that each over lap into the next. Using the height of the walls is the best way to deal with storage. You don’t walk on the walls so use that space for storage as there is only one floor surface, but four walls!
Their paired down life, now fits their new space, and they are free to travel without worrying. If you lived overseas this would be a huge place. Fortunately for our home owners, it seems like a great thing to have so little to have to worry about!
These are great tricks of the trade that you can apply to your home. Visit eieihome directory listing of interior designers to get your small space solutions today!