They say that the more space you have in your home, the more you’re able to fill it. If I look around, that’s definitely true. The last address we had was a lovely rented two bed Victorian terrace. We moved from there to here, a four bed 1930’s semi. The garden alone is probably around twenty times bigger, and yet somehow our house feels full with just us two, a cat and dog. How is that even possible?
It’s a far cry from my very first days in London, renting solo and just 22. I moved into a grotty studio flat in Earls Court but my goodness, if the walls of that flat could talk. I was almost the only one amongst my friends to have left home and although that flat was tiny, it was mighty. All of us look back on those days very fondly, no more so than me because it represented independence and the start of my love affair with London.
But in all the different places I’ve lived in London I’ve learned a thing or two about maximising space when you don’t have enough so let me bestow some wisdom.
Get A Sofa Bed
I’ve had some interesting experiences with sofa beds. In my first flat in Earls Court, there was a sleeping platform up a ladder because the ceilings were so high. The sofa was a sofa bed but it could only be laid out in one very specific position and when it was open, the only option to move around was to climb over it. Brilliant!
In our current home we have a sofa bed in the third bedroom. The second bedroom will eventually become a dedicated guest room but we didn’t want to take up two rooms with beds in them. Having a sofa bed gives us plenty of flexibility to use the space for other purposes. And let me say this – we had to get the banisters removed to get the sofa bed up the stairs, so it’s staying. So long as you get a good quality one, they’re super comfortable and a great way for me to escape when Pete snores too much 😉
Create A Small Office Space
Remote working (or teleworking as it’s sometimes known) is on the rise. It gives employees the opportunity of a better work-life balance and saves on that miserable commuting time. However, to get the most of out this time, creating a small place to dedicate to work is essential where possible. We’re turned our 4th bedroom into a his ‘n’ hers home office as it was the little box room and made perfect sense.
If you don’t have a dedicated room, think about a corner of your living or dining room – an alcove will do. There are so many creative furniture pieces such as this hideaway computer desk from the Wooden Furniture Store that allow space to be maximised whilst still being practical AND stylish.
Image courtesy of Wooden Furniture Store
Fold Away Table And Chairs
In my little studio flat, there was a nifty table with leaves that folded out on either side and 4 chairs that could be stacked inside the table when not in use. It was even on wheels so you could move it around, all 2 metres of the space! Just looking at my current living room, I think the entire studio flat was about half the size.
The fold down table and chairs was perfect though and gave options when I had friends round for dinner even though all I could give people was beans on toast because that flat had no oven… With open plan living so popular these days, not every home will have a designated dining room so some sort of practical table and chairs is a good solution.
Utilise Under Stairs Space
We’re not sure what to do yet with our existing understairs space. Currently it’s the original cupboard from when the house was built, complete with 1930’s door. But the walls inside are disintegrating and I’ve seen so many clever uses of similar spaces, everything from a dog kennel to kids den to office space to downstairs toilet. If you have that kind of area in your home the possibilities are endless and it can definitely be utilised on a practical level.
Switch The Bathroom For A Shower Room
Not only are showers more eco-friendly than baths, you could create a real wow-factor wet room instead of having a bath taking up all the space. We’re fortunate to have two full bathrooms, both with baths and showers over them. It’s not really that useful for our little family of two though, Pete never takes baths and I really have them once in a blue moon in winter. We’re going to turn our en-suite into a wet room and just have a shower enclosure, keeping the bath in the main ‘family’ bathroom.
Our next door neighbours are currently renovating their home and as an older couple find it most practical to take the bath out of their only bathroom, replacing it with a large shower. It looks amazing so far and is definitely capitalising on the space they have.
Do you have to make the most of a tricky space in your home? I’d love to hear your tips.
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The space under the stairs is empty and has an access door through my husband’s office, it is now where we store the printer and other office related staff, boxes and folders! Occasionally I hide suitcases in there too.
Oh wow, that almost sounds like an exciting hidey hole. Under stairs space is super versatile X
Great post and it’s so true that we tend to fill the space we have. I’m constantly fighting for more space in our flat. We’re about to create a laundry/utility room under our stairs and a cloakroom in the porch in the hope that we can move some of the clutter out of the main living quarters.
That sounds so exciting Stacey, I’ll be following your plans with interest I can’t WAIT to have a utility room X
We used to have lots of space under the stairs which was wasted, we turned it into a little space for our Coco.we have now moved and thankfully all the rooms are quite reasonable and have lots of storage space.. great tips for making small spaces work..
Such great ideas! Even with a larger space like our 1930s houses, these are all really useful!
We live in a 1930s semi and our understair cupboard is now a very handy loo. Such great ideas for the rest of the house though!
i am a massive fan of utilizing every square cm of the space , our stairs are in the living room so i utilized it with a space for a tv and units to hosue all the media stuff plus dog have their own nook to sleep in
Completely guilty of filling up our home (especially the kitchen cupboards with every latest device going lol). It’s now reached the stage that I’ve started paring back and doing a bit of a Marie Kondo on the house 😉 Some great advice here Lins 😀
Hahaha my husband is a complete hoarder of all things, even things he hasn’t used in 10 years. Drives me crazy! X
I’m all for dual functionality. My office in our house has a bed and trundle in it that I also use as a day bed and a “sorting” space. No point buying a bigger house for guests to stay, whats the point in that! I think the flow of rooms can be tricky in small spaces as you mentioned. All well and good to add a sofa bed but if you can’t get passed it you’re going to find getting to the loo a challenge in the night
Great post! I love working with small spaces as it gets you thinking more!