Living comfortably is a goal we all have whenever moving into a home. So many factors influence comfort within a home.
Of course, the size of an apartment will have a huge influence on how the space will make you feel. Wide high rooms will give you a light and airy feeling. Natural light flowing through a floor to ceiling window will lighten up your home and connect you with the outside. Quality materials like wood, stone, ceramic and so on also will increase the quality of your home and add to a calm feeling.
I know such a space sounds great and desirable, but uur reality often looks different. Apartments build in the 50s all the way to the 90s mostly are small with a low ceiling and not a lot of windows, fitted with basic materials.
Personally, Michael and I do live in a standard 90s german build apartment complex. We live on the ground floor and our house is set on a hill, that way only one half of our apartment has windows and natural light.
We bought this place while I was still in university and while Michael started his first job. Our apartment is small and nothing special. But it also is/was exactly what we needed an could avoid at the time we bought it.
Making the best out of the standard
Whenever we bought the apartment, we were so excited to own our first home together and start our life as a married couple. The 45qm footprint did not scare us, but rather motivated us to make the best out of what we had. Michael and I both work in the design industry and felt that this would give us an opportunity to think outside of the box and try out different things to make the small footprint of the space work for us.
Out of this experience, I now want to share some tips and tricks on how that worked for us on making the best out of a ordinary small space
Our 4 tips
- imitating a high ceiling
- using the right scale furniture
- Architectural features through optical illusion
- utilizing natural light
imitating a high ceiling
Of course, ceiling height is a luxury. Neither the less, whenever you have a small space and a rather low ceiling, there are visual tricks to elongate lines to give the feeling of height within your room. There is of course the option of literally drawing vertical lines on walls or using a striped wallpaper, also painting techniques like ombre effects that start dark and transition into a lither color spectrum will elongate a room and draw your eye up. you also can use the interior itself like curtains or cabinets that will start at the ceiling and go all the way down to the floor which utilizes the entire height of a room. The key is to eliminate horizontal lines that will cut the space visually and make it feel lower. Instead, try to elongate every possible line to lead your eye up. This will give a feeling of length and hight within the space.
Personally we build a fireplace in the middle of our living room which serves as the centerpiece in this space and draws your eye up to the ceiling making the room feel higher.
2. using the right scale furniture
Furniture is key. if you have a small space you want to avoid oversize and heavy-looking furniture at all costs. Instead, go for lower furniture that will set the horizontal line lower which immediately will help to make your ceiling appear higher. Also, try to find furniture that has thinner legs and lines to allow light to flow through your space. Furniture that is blocking the light will make your space feel darker and smaller. If you need bigger items of furniture like Cabinets, try to build them in, so they become part of the architecture and don’t create awkward corners or block of space that otherwise could be utilized better. You want to avoid dead corners next to big item furniture. Space is way too valuable in a small space to give it away by using the wrong furniture.
3. Architectural features
If you have an apartment build after the middle of the century you probably have very little architectural interest in your 4 walls. No high ceiling, no hardwood floors, no stucco, or wainscoting no high doors or smooth walls. When you live in Europa you probably live in a concrete building with mass-produced standard materials like tiles and laminate flooring and terrible “Raufasertapete” or another kind of wallpaper on the wall. nothing that makes your heart beat a little faster. That why we recommend creating visually interesting features that won’t take away too much space in your home. We already mentioned built-in cabinets or shelving, adding a fireplace, or creating an interesting wall piece like drawing a mural or using wainscoting. A space that has complexity will appear larger and more exciting. We choose to create wainscoting in our bedroom. It’s important to say that we did not try to make this element look “authentic” because its clearly not. We rather wanted to use the wainscoting element to give the bedroom wall some interesting lines. We also choose to only add the wainscoting to one wall and use it as a headboard.
4. utilizing natural light
Light is the key to every room. The more light fills a space the more open this room will feel. Adding a window is obviously not an option for most of us, that’s why we recommend avoiding blocking light at any cost. Be aware of how the light travels within your space and try to keep these light-paths open. You can also use mirrors, reflecting surfaces, and light colors to help the light reflect and distributing even further within your space. Mirror and glass are a great tool to reflect light into dark corners. try to use the light you have as a part of your design decisions.