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Design pros share 10 of the best tips for designing compact spaces

Three interior design firms reveal small space design tricks that actually work.

Text by Vanitha Pavapathi

Top image: Design by Quirk Studio

In times when compact housing is being explored as the future of spatial design, optimisation of spaces is crucial to bring in openness and airiness for comfortable living. Cracking the enigma of interior design, the minute details matter the most. Three interior design firms share their best tips to fabricate spaces with petite dimensions, in order to make them look and feel bigger than they actually are while ensuring great user experience.

#1 Light colour palette

Use light shades to add more lightness and volume to a space. But don’t limit yourself to neutral tones, advises Quirk Studio, as pastels work really well to add a tint of colour while keeping the interiors subtle.

#2 Big windows and natural light

Designing compact spaces by Ashleys

Design by Ashleys

These elements add volume to a space along with airiness. Quirk Studio suggest harmonising the scheme of walls with the same colour of high-hanging drapes for the windows or leave them uncovered to add depth to the abode.

#3 Furniture proportion and versatility

Designing compact spaces by RSDA (2)

Design by RSDA

Quirk Studio suggests picking pieces that are uplifted with legs, which create open spaces. Folding, stacked or wheeled furniture is the perfect alternative to create a space with versatility and dynamism. For example, a room can be a living area in the day and a sleeping area with a versatile folding couch.

#4 Furniture arrangement

The most important aspect to reduce the boxy impact is the arrangement or the layout of these massive items. Try and experiment with varied layouts with different focal points in order to create various frames, advises Quirk Studio. Avoid aligning furniture along the walls and place them in the centre of a space instead to create a focal point. Other furniture pieces such as full-length bookshelves or wall-to-wall shelves add volume.

#5 Layered lighting

Designing compact spaces by Quirk Studio

Design by Quirk Studio

Lighting is a key factor that makes a space alive and cheerful, irrespective of the volume. When used in variety, it projects a stimulating outcome by creating multiple focal points. But continuity in the tone of lighting (colour temperature) is essential throughout the design, adds Ashleys.

#6 Scale of space

Ashleys and RSDA agree that mirror-panelled walls at appropriate places accentuate the scale of space, and make a vivid alternative for windows in places where placing an opening is disrupted by means of the building orientation. To avoid blocking space, Quirk Studio suggests the use of transparent or translucent pieces, and opting for sliding doors instead of swing doors.

#7 Spatial dissection

Designing compact spaces by Ashleys (2)

Design by Ashleys

RSDA sees furniture that augment the experience while curating an unobstructed visual scape a better choice than using walls for spatial dissection. This can also be achieved by using glass partitions and sliding foldable walls, says Ashleys, which offer greater flexibility in terms of addition and reduction of space as well as improved sensory experience.

#8 Design continuity

Attaining continuity through materials is imperative, as it binds the different spaces in a home together and even creates a calming effect, explains Ashleys. For example, integrating continuous flooring from the living room to the balcony ensures connectivity. Despite the monotony, the key to compact spaces is a minimal approach to design that leaves spaces uncluttered. Similarly, wardrobes that congest the volume, when raised till the ceiling, coalesce into the wall plane and achieve continuity.

#9 Ceiling height

Ceiling height defines the volume and the visual scape of design, says Ashleys. Having said that, it is not a lost cause for low ceilings. The key is to avoid different ceiling heights, as it is crucial for determining the volume in compact spaces.

#10 Artworks

Designing compact spaces by RSDA

Design by RSDA

Often neglected, artworks add colour, grandeur and personality to compact interior spaces when used in right proportions. Don’t be afraid to go big as one or two oversized pieces manifest a colossal effect to a space, says Quirk Studio. When used in a reduced number, they add lucency, not clutter to a space.

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