Clever use of wallpaper and fabric can really help to add depth to a room. Online supplier of designer wallpaper and curtain and upholstery fabric Fabrics & Papers
is giving Don't Cramp Our Style
readers 15% off orders over £250 during February. Find the code at the end of this feature.
Emma Vans Agnew, Design Director of Fabrics & Paper
has these space enhancing tips for us:
To push the walls out in a small room, it’s really important to use a fairly neutral colour palette for the walls with complementary colours for the curtains. It is all about creating an optical illusion; look to wallpapers with a metallic pattern that will reflect light, whilst subtle patterns add visual interest without being too overwhelming.
Stick to a delicately patterned wallpaper, such as Osborne & Little’s Mandara wallpaper
Bright colours, unless used sparingly, tend to make a room look smaller as the eye is drawn to one wall. Vibrant curtains or blinds as a feature are the ideal way to add a pop of colour to a smaller room. Another alternative might be to create a feature wall by hanging wallpaper on one wall, and painting the rest.
Sanderson Jubilee Square Fabric adds dashes of colour across this room
Always keep in mind that wallpaper gives a warmer feel to a room, but oversized patterns can overpower a tiny space. Small design wallpapers and fabrics work incredibly well, however.
And stripes are particularly useful. Vertical stripes will increase the illusion of height in a room, whilst horizontal stripes will make it look wider. If your room has a stretched, rectangular shape, it's perhaps a long wall with a window at one end, using a striped wallpaper laid on the horizontal will really stretch out the dimensions.
Cole and Son's Soho Stripe wallpaper visually widens this room
Floor-to-ceiling curtains in a small living room create a dramatic statement, they don’t have to feel overwhelming; and, can give necessary dynamism to an otherwise neutral room.
Here floor to ceiling curtains in Sanderson's Asami Embroidery Fabric help add drama and height to the room
Blinds can be functional in a small living room, and are a good alternative when curtains could feel too dominating for your design or you want a simple finish to compliment your wallpaper choice.
For the more adventurous decorate the whole room in the same fabric, and I do mean everything — walls, curtains, upholstery, even the lampshades and picture frames, whether it's a leopard print or a toile de jouy. One wild print all over the place enlarges a small space, brings it all together, and adds a big wow factor.To get 15% off all orders over £250 from Fabrics & Papers use the code DC 7764 on the order form.
It's sales season in the UK and if you know where to look you can find some delicious bargains. And, if you're reading this from your sofa in Sydney or your hammock in Hawaii, I know I have many international readers, don't worry (aside from one) everyone mentioned here ships.
When shopping the sales you need to follow three rules:
1. If you shop regularly at a store where everything is affordable for you out of sale period don't shop there during their sale period. If you liked it enough you would have bought it before it was discounted. The only thing that is attracting you to the product this time is its bargain basement sale tag.
2. Don't shop anywhere where you couldn't afford even 20% of the price of the goods on offer outside of sale time. Rarely is anything discounted more than 70%. You won't be able to afford to shop there during sale time either, you don't want to buy something that puts you into debt.
3. Haggle. The reason the stuff is on sale is because the store wants rid of it. If it's a large piece of furniture with a still fairly largish figure attached, there may be some further leeway to go on the price. Nothing to lose in asking, especially if it's a little substandard and has a scratch somewhere or a stain. You can do this virtually too, send them a cheeky email, you never know...
With this in mind, let's go shopping:
Fired Earth's handmade and hand decorated Natural History Sycamore and Alder tile panels are down 50% to £175 each.
concentrates on elegant timeless craftsmanship. Whether it's a kitchen chair, a bath or a tile, you won't have to stray far from the homepage to find something you'll fall instantly in love with. It's pricey, but during sale time you can uncover some relative bargains. For export sales call +44 (0) 1295814 315.
e-side's One C dining chair will slip neatly under a dining table
The innovative online store E-Side
specialises in cutting edge, sustainable furniture. This striking, but simple chair will comfortably wrap itself around your body and as it appears to almost float on air it will ensure your room doesn't feel to cluttered too. Currently reduced from £390 to £230.
Step up with this space enhancing Trent & Ashby flat weave linear runner from Roger Oates
If you're looking to make an entrance, look no further than Roger Oates
. They have been designing and hand producing their uniquely smart, simple and classic pure wool Venetian Flatweave rugs and runners for over twenty years. Sorry sale goods are limited to the UK though. This Trent & Ashby flat weave runner is down from £110 per linear metre to £59.
Vintage Jessie Tait salt and pepper pots now just £12.50 at Pretty Dandy
Finally, I've also spotted this eye-catching pair of salt and pepper pots by famed English ceramicist Jessie Tait for Mindwinter at Pretty Dandy.
Great if you like that classic Sixties feel.
Have you spotted any great sales to add to this list? Subscribe to my RSS feed for instant email updates every time I post
When you live in a small space, you're always looking for new hidey holes within which to store things in and there are some pieces of furniture and parts of buildings that could work so much harder if someone put their mind to it.
Architects have been designing building with lofts for centuries and yet the method for accessing them has not got beyond a disappearing awkward to access ladder. Consequently, these storage areas are under used, but without going as a far as a loft conversion there are ways you can make this space more attractive, useful and accessible.
I took down the ceiling in part of our home to reveal the loft above and this space has become a book shelf and perch for storage baskets and attractive looking toys, such as a wooden sledge and a football table.
Meanwhile, I've been searching for years for a kitchen table with at least one drawer under the table top, that doesn't look cheap and nasty. They were pretty much standard in the 'olden' days and they crop up occasionally on Ebay, but they are often trading on their vintage looks and are expensive.
A stylish sofa that opens up to reveal a wide chest for storing games would be useful too. It would basically be a sofa bed design with out the bed in it.
Any suggestions to add to the list?
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Whilst you can't over clutter a small home, there are some beautiful statement objects that are worth making room for. These are on my Christmas list:
Wooden Studio Shelf, £88.95, www.prettydandy.co.uk
Used alongside the bed instead of a bedside table, this cute wall shelf is perfect for helping you to stick to our optical illusion rule, where you maximise visible floor space to make a room appear larger. It's available in a variety of sizes from Pretty Dandy
£50 each at www.bainesandfricker.net
Shop fitters are often ahead of the trend when it comes to interior design, so it's always a good idea to pay attention to how they store and display their wares. It may well work really well in your own home. Baines and Fricker's
contemporary take on the fruit crate are currently being used in the Paul Smith shop in Borough Market and if it's good enough for Paul, it's good enough for me!
Crafted from birch ply, they are all individually number stamped and are perfect for kids toy storage, magazines or even a vinyl collection.
Havanah Campaign Dressing Table, £1,900, www.blackorchidinteriors.co.uk
It's pricey, but in its defence, the Havanah Campaign Dressing Table from Black Orchid Interiors
folds up smaller, can also be used as a desk and it's the sort of furniture that's likely to become a family heirloom. Just think of all the things you could put in all those drawers.Subscribe to my RSS feed for instant email updates every time I post!
Buying gifts for children who have very little play and storage space is a challenge. Not now. I've done the research for you and found these perfect presents.
It doesn't take much to entertain a baby and often they are more interested in the packaging than the gift, so steer clear of the oversized gimmicky toys. Opt instead for cute colourful objects that stretch all the senses, such as this Giggle Stick which giggles when jiggled.
The Riley Giggle Stick is perfect for chubby little hands, £6 www.suncresttrading.com
Toddlers adore undoing and concealing things, so they will love undressing Dasher the Daschound and putting him to bed in his kennel at night.
Dasher the Daschound , £14.95 www.giftwrappedandgorgeous.co.uk
It will be show time in no time with this Fiesta Crafts
puppet show. It fits snuggly into a doorway and there is a great range of puppets to go with it too.
Doorway puppet theatre, £29.99, www.fiestacrafts.co.uk
Toys that fold away into books are fantastic when space is at a premium. Louise Comfort's pop up fairy book
series provide hours of amusement and they fold back into standard size books, they are also great to pack when travelling.
These new Carddies
are another great un pack and play pack up and away toy. You colour in the figures and scenes and then let your imagination transport you into their world. Sets include football, ballet, cavemen, farm and nativity.
Carddies colour in and play box sets, £8.99
Kids this age love to make things, the problem is all too often we don't know what to do with their homemade sock puppets, stain glass window collages and cardboard models. So get them making something that will have a function for them after its 'birth'. Such as this Artzooka! Sketcher Tape Kit, from which they can make a whole landscape play mat scene.
Artzooka Sketcher Tape kit, £9.99
And, get them using their brains too with Carol Vorderman's Mathable Domino game. The 57-numbered dominos are designed to give the brain a real work-out. £16.99, www.mathablegame.com Subscribe to my RSS feed for instant email updates every time I post!
We accumulate pieces over the years that are redundant for most of the time. But before you go out and buy a new container to hold the kids' crayons, kitchen utensils or toothbrushes, think about whether you already have something that could do the job, and in a much more visually interesting way too.
Here a giant wine glass has been turned into a funky container for kitchen serving spoons etc.
And when the last occupant swam off to new shores from this fish bowl, paint and brushes moved in.
Whilst this funky light bulb vase from IotaBristol
looks great filled with colourful buttons and knitting needles. Things that would normally take up space in a cupboard, become almost a piece of artwork in their own right.
Lit Lit bed www.frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk
There are lots of clever optical illusions you can employ to make a small room appear much larger and more spacious than it actually is.
Opt for furniture with legs so that you can see the floor under it. The more floor you can see the larger the room will feel. You can also get some extra storage space under raised furniture, just tuck those baskets and under bed boxes right into the middle so that they can't be seen at eye level.
It sounds obvious but strategically placed mirrors are fantastic for adding depth to a room. Places to target with mirrors are walls opposite windows and doors at the top of stairs.
Colour can also be used to play tricks with your eyes. Light and airy colours tend to move the walls out whilst darker hues will pull the walls inwards.
Pale Sienna wall paint from susiewatsondesigns.co.uk
Do you have any more spacial optical illusion suggestions?
When you live in a small area, you can't afford to have redundant space. I pulled out the old broom cupboard under the stairs and designed this huge storage unit to go in its place.
Our little-used serving dishes and vases are concealed behind the books. The TV hides the set-top boxes and sits on top of a cupboard full of toys and below this is a row of deep drawers for DVDs and the girls' endless stationary, colouring books and stickers sets. Whilst the door on the end has a whole filing cabinet inside it.
I also pulled down the ceiling on our single storey dining room to reveal the roof space beyond. As well as an attractive feature, the beams provide valuable extra space for books and are proving a useful place to stick those large scale models that the kids bring home from school from time to time. I'm starting a wicker basket collection up there too for my knitting and craft kit. And I'm on the look out for a battered leather suitcase and a traditional wooden sledge to finish off the still life.
Have you made use of any hidden spaces in your home?
Once upon a time a boy met a girl. They decided they were going to live together, forever. But where?
The girl moved into the boy's bachelor apartment whilst the search began for a home of their own. It took two years. In all this time, they only went to view five houses. They were very fussy.
They could have swapped their pot of gold for a four-bedroom, new build, cleverly laid out with a playroom, study and utility, everything you need for an easy 21st century life. But, they didn't want a sensible home in the suburbs, surrounded by clones.
Instead, they exchanged their bag of coins for a unique dejected two-bedroom cottage on the edge of a capital city. Whilst it's skeletal structure was sound, not much else was. It was in need of intensive tender loving care.
The girl and the boy spent months putting the heart back into the house. On the day the girl put up the curtains, she'd sewn by hand and the roses started to bloom again on the ancient rose bush that hugged the front door, the house became home.
A few months later the boy and the girl became a mummy and a daddy. And three more years down the line, their daughter had a sister. The home that was perfect for two, was cosy for three and is now squishy for four.
Our little girls are now four and seven. This is our story of how we manage to live and enjoy living in a space we've outgrown.