They say size isn’t everything. When it comes to your home, though, none of us would say no to a little bit extra. Here in the UK, we have the smallest living spaces in Europe by quite a considerable margin. There are, however, many advantages to living in a more compact home.
‘Small spaces are more economical to run,’ points out Elizabeth Wilhide, author of Small Spaces bespoke splashback . ‘And because the surface areas you are dealing with are more limited, you can choose more luxurious materials and high-end details. Small-space living also concentrates the mind as, with less room to play with, you need to be quite focused and selective – which is no bad thing.’
‘Start by thinking about the house as a whole and assess the areas where things are tight,’ suggests architect Mark Dyson. ‘Think about your priorities and how you need to use the space, then you can plan multifunctional zones.’
Living in a restricted space means your home has to work much harder, but clever design, careful planning and a considered approach will allow it to run smoothly without compromising an inch of your own personal style.
Many units finish short of the ceiling, which is a waste of valuable inches. Choose full-height storage and keep lesser-used items in the higher cupboards. Alternatively, install wine racks into any spare space.
o If necessary, compress the kitchen along one wall. ‘2.8m is the minimum width you can fit a compact but very useable kitchen in to,’ says architect Mark Dyson. ‘This will accommodate an under-counter fridge, oven, hob, sink with a concealed bin, a slimline dishwasher and storage while still providing the minimum distance requirement between the sink and hob.’
o No utility room? ‘House your washing machine and a dryer in a deep cupboard,’ says architect Paul McAneary. ‘Hide the appliances behind a folding door.’
o Keep cleaning materials, chopping boards and spices to hand with some custom-made splashback storage. All you need is 15cm at the back of the work surface to create super-slim storage for these everyday essentials.
o Mechanisms such as drawer dividers and magic corners keep things neat and utilise awkward spaces. ‘Don’t forget low-level storage,’ says Graeme MacLaren of Dinwiddie MacLaren Architects. ‘Plinth drawers are perfect for storing flat items such as baking trays or tea towels.’