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.
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?