Space Saving Hacks for Homes With Limited Room
There is a line between cosy and cluttered, and these tips and tricks will help you not to cross it
20 November 2020
All credits: PA
In the heart of the urban jungle, space is a fiercely contested commodity.
In Dubai, a one bedroom apartment can cost on average around AED 90,000 per year in areas like Jumeirah Lake Towers, but that rises to more than AED 110,000 in Dubai Marina. And while rents are dropping across the emirate, prices are still high for the amount of space offered.
Small wonder many of the city's expats and residents try to squeeze every drop of use out of nook, corner and cranny when decorating and arranging their homes.
So, if you’re struggling with a shoe-box apartment in Dubai, fit more for hobbit than human, here are a few hacks to help make your paltry pad feel positively palatial…
Just as blocks of flats economise by stretching skywards, so too can almost any aspect of your interior.
Bunks are a good bedroom option: Not the sort with your sibling sleeping below, but a single raised bunk that leaves space beneath for a sofa or work station. Consider a drying rack elevated above the sink, rather than using up valuable space next to it, or a set of bathroom shelves that prop neatly atop the cistern.
If you’re not averse to more major adjustments, install a slim slide-out storage tower by your cupboard or refrigerator. A sort of vertical draw with up to five levels, these beauties are perfect for cans, jars or cereal boxes, and can easily contain the contents of a small pantry.
Use your walls wisely: Mounted TVs are nothing new, but cups, racks, hooks and boxes can be fixed to almost any surface cheaply and without professional help. For those in the advanced class, check out MADE’s fold-out, wall-mounted desk (AED 930, made.com) – a retractable table that flips up into the wall, cunningly masquerading as a small cupboard.
However many ornaments you erect, and whatever colour your wallpaper, it is still the furniture – the big, bulky must-haves like beds and tables – that will define how a room’s space operates.
Consider two main tactics: Reducing the size of a piece of furniture, and making one piece of furniture perform multiple and different tasks.
The sofa-bed is a space-saving staple, but sleek modern models are taking its transformative powers to new heights. The Utaker Stackable Bed (AED 700, ikea.com) consists of two separate mattresses, fusing to form a single bed, double bed, twin beds, a single sofa, or a long reclining couch.
Coffee tables, counters, and cupboards can all come complete with extra pullouts, and for next-level extendability check out Ikea’s Granboda table set (AED 230, ikea.com). The Russian doll of Swedish furniture, moving the top table reveals a second surface slotted underneath, and a third beneath that.
But the most extendable extendable of all is surely Marmell Furniture’s multi-functional dining table (AED 1960, marmell.co.uk). In its trimmest form it measures a mere 20cm in length, but three large inserts more than quadruple this to 240cm.
Corners are your friends
Corners are notoriously tricky, and, assuming you’re not living in a lighthouse, each room probably has three or four of them. The good news is that, naughty children aside, no-one is going to want to stand in the corner, so it’s effectively free space.
Though angular and faintly awkward to install, you can cover your corners with specially designed wraparound corner shelves (again, Ikea is a good bet). Conventionally visual items like televisions and floor lamps can fit well, or try out a so-called ‘corner-armchair’ or right-angle settee.
Under-the-bed storage is a time honoured space-saver, and with good reason. Pull-out draws allow you to stow items still in daily use, while rubber ‘bed risers’ will hoist your mattress further from the ground, making room for another seven inches of stuff. Fill these with Argos’ vacuum storage bags (AED 46, argos.co.uk), making your space-saving strategy almost literally airtight.
Your aim should be to maximise what is already there. Instead of a traditional coffee table, could you instead put your drinks down on an elegant, varnished oak storage chest, or use the edge of your desk as a makeshift bedside table?
It may seem luddite, but small spaces seem larger if there’s less in them, and if all else fails, you can conduct a controlled purge. Adopting an ‘if in doubt, chuck it out’ approach for even one short tidy-up will massively reduce clutter, even if it does mean parting with that four-sizes-too-large, bright turquoise t-shirt you occasionally wear as a pyjama top.
The spacious aesthetic
Now that your home is feeling little more spacious, you can set about making it look even more so.
A light, textured colour scheme lends any room an airy, open feel (just think how claustrophobic black paint feels), while mirrors help build the illusion of depth. Stripes can elongate a room the same way they do a person (we recommend a rug; wallpaper might be overkill), and opt for a clear shower curtain to avoid visual foreshortening.
Canny decorators follow the apocryphal-sounding but actually-very-accurate ‘cantaloupe rule’: When sprucing up a small space, use only ornaments larger than a cantaloupe melon, to sidestep the clutter that can so easily ruin a tiny room.