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Whether you’re starting your tiny house journey one small space at a time, or simply scaling down, here are some clever suggestions to make every square meter count


From tiny rooms to compact apartments, a small space requires more planning than the norm – but it’s also an invitation to let loose and think outside the box.

Be bold

While common wisdom dictates that a neutral palette makes a room appear larger, it might not be your endgame. According to Olympia International Paints,  an ideal space to experiment and flex your creative muscles is the guest bathroom. “The guest loo is typically small, and ideal to be the statement space of your home.”

They suggest going for bold paint colours, such as black, navy or chocolate brown. “These rich tones are a perfect way to incorporate a luxurious look. Olive green is another jewel colour that resembles opulence and glamour. Pair it with brass accents, like a brushed metal faucet and a matching mirror.”

Magma Wallcovering MD Shaazia Rego says a small space is a great opportunity to let loose with colour, pattern and wild fixtures because it’s contained. “The truth is, adding wallpaper to a small room is a great way to visually expand a space. Pattern wallpaper can create all kinds of illusions, including making a room appear larger than it actually is.”


Dynamic decor

As space becomes a concern, so does functionality – modular furniture has risen in popularity as a result and South Africans can now look out for the locally produced Modular Shelving System from TimHarris Design. It’s infinitely adaptable, and can be configured according to different space requirements, style and needs. The only element attached to the wall is the horizontal rails from which the shelves hang, with the weight of each shelf keeping them anchored onto the rail.

Keep it proportional

When selecting furniture for a small lounge area, you not only have to think about comfort but also appearances and proportion. “Enhance your small space with accent chairs and tables that are round or airy to maximise movement in a room,” says Dana Bassani of Sorelle. “Light fabrics and wood finishes will also help the room seem brighter and bigger. Consider ottomans and benches to add interest and variety.”

Purpose-built furniture

Interior designer Kirsty Drummond of Drummond Classics says the best way to utilise a small space is to create custom-built furniture for it, after deciding exactly what the room is for and what’s required for the space.

“In small spaces we can make use of shop-fitters to build us floor-to-ceiling units, which can have built-in desks, additional storage, bookcases – sometimes even beds with added storage,” she says. For children’s rooms or play areas, Kirsty says she will often design benches with pull-out toy boxes on wheels below.


Curate the space

It can be difficult to fit in everything that your heart desires, so a small room requires a firm, purposeful edit. “A few oversized pieces such as a mirror, headboard or table lamp in bold textures or prints will actually make the space feel larger,” says Kizzie Stenslunde, design partner at Wolfe & Hare. “Maximise the use of the main furniture pieces in style, colour, size and texture, and keep the smaller ornaments and clutter to a minimum.”

Creative ideas for storage

Downsizing doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all your belongings. “With a little planning, it’s possible to create a comfortable home and keep your most-prized – and necessary – items without tripping over them,” says CEO and co-principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands Chris Cilliers. Here are her suggestions:

Maximise existing closet space

If you have a high hanging rail, place a small chest of drawers underneath the clothes, and add a second rail to double up on hanging space.

Optimise wall space

Install floating shelves in living areas and shelves along the perimeter of your bedroom walls above head height.

Put your doors to work

Fill a plastic multi-pocket shoe organiser with cleaning supplies and hang it behind the kitchen door.

Decorative storage

Storing belongings in decorative bins and baskets is one of the most affordable and most aesthetically pleasing ways to save space in almost every room.

Maximise your drawer storage with modular drawer organisers

You already know they work well in the kitchen, so utilise them in the bedroom for small items.

Limit your appliances

Scaling down on appliances, especially kitchen gadgets you seldom use, can free up loads of space.

Make the most of an alcove

Lay a narrow bookcase on its side to create a bench for seating and pop open-topped woven baskets into each section for storage.


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