Expert Advice: Creating Space in a Mosman Semi
WITH MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION OF MOSMAN RESIDING IN EITHER A SEMI-DETACHED HOUSE OR AN APARTMENT - LIVING IN TINY SPACES IS JUST A FACT OF LIFE FOR MANY OF US. THANKFULLY, OUR INTERIORS CONTRIBUTOR LORI MURRAY IS HERE, WITH SOME EXPERT TIPS ON MAXIMISING SPACE IN CRAMPED QUARTERS, PROVING THAT GOOD THINGS CAN COME IN SMALL PACKAGES!
1. Restrain yourself!
The key in smaller spaces is keeping your colour palette and chosen materials to a minimum. If possible, remember to keep cabinetry and joinery a cohesive style and colour throughout. Make sure your chosen flooring is consistent, particularly in key areas like the kitchen, living and dining room. Your furniture in these spaces should also have a similar colour palette. Introduce colour with art and accessories if you must!
You need to be realistic about the number of pieces you can have in a small space without it becoming an obstacle course! But in order to create the impression of space, you don’t necessarily have to get rid off all the furniture! Go ahead and invest in items that make a room comfortable, liveable and functional; like a rug, coffee table, sofa, side tables and stylish lighting. Just be conscious of the scale of these items, and keep them in proportion to the room.
Let go of the idea of traditional furniture arrangements, and introduce multi-purpose items, like these round coffee tables (see right) that we sourced for a Neutral Bay apartment.
Their compact size means they don't block a thoroughfare through to the bedroom - and they can also be used as side tables. We made sure to add the small sized occasional chair, providing the impression of space - and all furniture heights were purposely kept low. Seating raised on legs also gives the feeling of more light and space.
PRO TIP: Modern and Mid-Century styles work particularly well - and round tables create less visual clutter.
3. Hardworking joinery
Some women love shoes and bags ... but I love joinery!
It’s generally the first element of a project that I think about - and it's vitally important in small spaces. Ask yourself if the wall for the television can also have room for pull out storage drawers? Or what about using the area around it as shelving for books and display items (which will make the TV less obvious too!).
Can cabinetry be concealed or recessed into walls? Can the wardrobes be extended all the way to the ceiling? We are designing some kids closets at the moment with big open sections in the middle, to display personal items and books which is a great space saver (no need for a bookshelf!)
At the Neutral Bay project we moved the dining area into a corner, allowing for a custom bench seat, which doubled up as both seating and hidden storage underneath.
4.Let there be light
If ceilings are low, recessed lighting will draw the least amount of attention to them as possible and are a safe solution. Always the same colour as your ceiling of course, so they disappear.
However don’t be afraid to look at the more readily available flush mounted pendant lights that wash light upwards, and can still provide a feature while not overpowering the space.
At the Neutral Bay apartment we decided on a hanging pendant light in a corner, but kept it round and white to seamlessly work with the walls and echo the shape of the round dining table underneath it. And keep the light temperature warm, not cool.
5. JUST GO WITH IT
Whilst the right white will always lighten a space (see my previous piece on white paints here) there are some rooms, particularly in Mosman Federation semis, that receive little natural light. A semi detached sitting room is a perfect example of this.
Sometimes, the best results are achieved by working with the Federation character and moodiness, rather than fighting against it. So consider dark wallpaper, or rich dark paint colours such as grey, chocolate brown or deep dark navy. Paired with complimentary joinery or furniture in similar tones, you'll have a truly cosy and appealing room.