Expert space saving ideas for the home

Last month, we headed to Birmingham for one purpose and one purpose only – to visit The National Homebuilding and Renovating Show. With over 500 exhibitors across sectors such as kitchens and bathrooms, plus a programme of seminars and masterclasses, there was plenty to do and see. On doing the rounds, we came across Hugo Tugman (Architectural Designer and Real Homes Design Expert) giving a seminar about how to make your home feel more spacious without choosing to extend. With such great advice, we thought it only fair to share his ten tips with you below – handy if you couldn’t make the show!

living room with brown sofa

Image source: Home2home via Wikimedia Commons

Look at the space in plan

As Hugo says, “one of the first things I will do is throw a tape measure around” and “get a sense of how the jigsaw fits together”. Estate agent’s plans usually come with floor plans in tow but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be spot on. According to Hugo, they’re actually “always inaccurate and misleading”. Getting a measured floor survey will ensure that you have the right information about your property and provide you with important measurements such as the thickness of the walls.

Look for the space that’s not working hard

We’re talking about spaces that are badly arranged with lots of unused space taken up with circulation. Hallways often fall foul of this. Make your space work harder for you. One trick is to remove walls to free the area up (see tip 3!). Just because something’s small, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be cleverly designed. In fact, it should be for that very reason.

Convert under-used spaces

Spaces such as lofts and garages can be put to work if they’re areas that you barely use. You don’t need to add dormers into a loft space but you could make best use of the low areas for storage and best use of the high areas to make it into a nice bedroom.

Don’t be afraid of structure

How many times have you heard the phrase, “I can’t remove that wall, it’s load-bearing or structural”? The only difference between a structural and non-structural wall according to Hugo, is a steel beam. With the advice of a structural engineer, moving a structural wall can be done; it will just be reflected in the price of the removal job. Removing a wall can open up the space and let daylight in.

Create a sense of space with daylight penetration

This is all about daylight penetration. If your home lets in lots of natural light, it will open your rooms up and make them look bigger. Pale colours can help the light to bounce around too. Lights from a higher angle work better which is why roof lights are so effective. It’s not just about their physical size.

Create a sense of space: layering

To really make your property sing, you need to pay attention to depths of views and ensure that you have multiple readings of a space. By that we mean setting up layered views where you can be standing and looking at your breakfast area but also see through to your kitchen and past that into your garden, for example. From your one position, you would have what we would call a four layered space.

Zone open-plan spaces

If you’re working with an open-plan space, zoning it off into two or three sections that are clearly defined for different purposes can work wonders. So, for instance, zone off your living room from your kitchen and dining room. The areas will be connected but there will be clarity of space. One way to do this is with flooring or with accessories, like lighting overhanging a dining table.

Create more square feet

Overlap zones and use space twice. If a dining room is tiny, it can look bigger when it spills into a kitchen without you needing to physically add space with square feet. The room becomes filled with light. You can also be clever with your use of rooms. If you have a one-bedroom house for instance and you’re living alone, you won’t be using the bathroom and kitchen at the same time, so why not have them operating on a slider where you set which room you’re currently using and one entire room appears to disappear back into the wall when it’s not in use?

Have storage that fits the internal geography of the house

We all have lots of belongings and sometimes, our love of buying things and keeping items of sentimental value can mean that our homes look cluttered and smaller as a result. The trick is to invest in storage that’s appropriate for what we need to store and double up on the purpose of an item. So for instance, why not have a wine rack that doubles up as a bookshelf, or go traditional and have a sofa with built-in storage underneath it?

Make use of a staircase

As Hugo says, “staircases can waste space if they’re not thought through but if they are, they can unlock great space”. Moving a staircase isn’t necessarily a big deal. To open up a hallway, stairs can be pushed to the side of the room to allow more light to penetrate through and reveal the width of the hallway itself.

Want to add more space and value to your home without extending? Find a builder  to help you unlock extra space in your home.

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4 comments

  1. I found the article useful, particularly the layering. We have just moved into a late 80s house by the sea and are just contemplating a loft conversion and also a Kitchen diner. So many of his points are relevant. We also significantly downsized so we need to be creative with storage as well. Good food for though.

  2. Compact houses allow you to live large. A tiny house is indeed a practical choice. In the past, bigger houses are more appealing to homeowners. As mortgages grow, many people are now considering living smaller and simpler. Micro-homes have so much to offer: lower utility bills, lower overall cost and the list goes on. It only goes to show that with the immense popularity of smaller homes, bigger is not always better.

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