If you live in a ground floor flat or a house that looks out on to the street, you will want to keep away prying eyes, but at the same time maximise the light coming into your property. Blinds have always been a reasonably cheap and practical way of screening your windows, and the latest bottom up and top down blinds offer a much more flexible way of screening.
You can raise or lower these blinds from the bottom or the top. Blinds2Go's Top Down/Bottom Up blinds also come with aluminium lined honeycomb pockets to trap heat, increasing your thermal protection and cutting your energy bills.
A dining table that is supported by one central column frees up valuable space in a small home. It allows you to squeeze more chairs around it and ensures that no one has to wrestle with a table leg for floor space. Plus, as it allows the eye to see further into the room, it will help the area feel larger too. This Skoby pedestal dining table can seat up to ten people and when the extra leafs aren't needed they can be stored within the table top.
Italian manufacturer Cattelan Italia's Premier Drive Keramik extending dining table features a striking ceramic top available in an array of modern finishes that appears to float in mid air. The two extension leafs can be hidden within when not in use.
If you've no room for a table large enough to contain a light or a separate floor light and a side table, then combine the two with this Shelfie light from Loaf.
If you want to give it a more eclectic look, it's also available without the shade, so that you can add your own.
It's lovely to be able to entertain occasionally, even if you don't have much space. You might have to push some furniture around and ask your guests to bring their own chairs, but, even if it's just for a few hours, you should always be able to get several people around a table for a meal.
The best way to achieve this is with a dining table that can grow. A decent extending table is hard to find, but I've done the searching for you. Here is my top ten:
1. The Golia extending console table by Ozzio Design
Console tables that morph into dining tables are becoming popular at the top end of the market and I don't think it will be long until they start turning up in stores such as Ikea and Habitat. Laura Ashley does one that extends to seat six. This Golia Console sits neatly against the wall and when needed, its legs telescope out so that several more leaves can be added and at least ten people can sit around it.
2. Steuart Padwick Double Cross table
Steuart Padwick's Double Cross table can be pushed against the wall as a console table or desk or used as a breakfast bar and then opened out to feed a crowd.
3. Aveiro extending dining table
This slim-legged fifties-style dining table extends from 180cm to 230cm and when they're not needed the leaves can be hidden within the table top.
4. The Skovby Oslo SM32 extending table
Round tables can grow too. The three leaves in the Skovby Oslo SM32 table are stored in its central column and there are no legs to get in the way of guests. It's also available in six wood veneer finishes.
5. Habufa Rodez extending dining table
If you're looking to add an urban edge to your room, with its black powder-coated pedestal base and stone-finished glass-mounted table top, the Habufa Rodez table will do just that. And, as it has no legs at the edge, you can cram more people around it too.
6. Spot extending dining table
Not only can this table grow, it also has a clever storage cubby, sold separately, which is ideal for storing condiments and cutlery. The matching stools and bench come with integral drawers too.
7. Canton black extending dining table
This smart black lacquered table will never date and it comes in two sizes: the largest will extend to feed fourteen, the slightly smaller one will seat up to ten.
8. Puccini extending dining table
With its iron frame and walnut veneered top, this elegant table will add a touch of understated luxury to your living space and it looks lovely in both its incarnations.
9. Provence birch extending dining table
This little shabby chic table grows on and on, from 120cm to a whopping 320cm. It will work for a romantic dinner and when you're entertaining a crowd.
10. Living by Christiane Lemieux Casey extending dining table
This white-washed Mango wood table has a striking parquet-pattern effect top. It extends from 140cm to 220cm and says it can go from seating four to six people, but, with good friends, you shouldn't have trouble squeezing at least eight around it.
I love the look and feel of a real book. I hate the idea that one day the written word will only be found on an electronic device. And, whilst Ereaders are great for little homes, it's still lovely to be able to have some 'proper' books on display. If shelving space is scare, thinking about where to display them can be tricky, however. We hope that these alternatives to traditional bookcases will inspire you:
This funky four-poster bed includes a nifty series of bookcases.
And, I found space for a neat little stack of books under this pedestal bedside table.
Look up as well, when thinking about where to put books. Here a ceiling beam makes a perfect spot for our little library.
And, the collection carries on here in our bedroom. I love the way this mini skyline of books brightens up the top of our wardrobes.
Traditional shelving also has its place if you've the room. This one from Ella's Kitchen Company found its way into our kitchen. Whilst here we uncover some more clever little shelves that we hope you'll love...
A piece of furniture that allows the eye to see through it further into the room will help that room to appear larger than it is. So, if you want your room to feel more spacious, a glass dining table makes the most sense. Here are some of our current favourites:
Glass tables come in small packages. At just under a metre in diameter, this Frank dining table should comfortably seat four and will look lovely tucked away in a corner dressed with a vase of flowers when it's not in use.
Glass tables are often associated with modern design, and generally the look is contemporary, but this oval piece with its elegant American Walnut legs will fit beautifully into a period setting. And, the fact that you can see through its base too, means it will really enhance the feeling of space in a room.
Square tops are doable too; and at 130cm wide, you could probably squeeze eight around this, with elbows knocking.
Or how about rectangle? Glass tables come in all shapes and sizes.
Why it helps to put tables on a pedestal
Have you found any lovely glass tables? Share your discoveries in the comments below
Art works come pretty low down on the fitting-in priority list when it comes to furnishing a small space. With the little wall space that you have, when it comes to choosing between a painting, a shelf, a cabinet or coat hooks, the painting is going to lose out every time. So, these shelving frames are cool, they can be made to look like 3D works of art and they can hold stuff.
You just need to arrange that stuff so that it all looks as pretty as a picture!
This is a simple and effective idea. Choose a plug, pick your colour and length of cord, select your lamp holder and decide on your bulb. Hey presto, you have your very own bespoke plug in lamp, which you can hang from the ceiling, the wall or wrap around a beam, as we've done here.
A striking filament light bulb provides added wow factor. A few of these lights would look great bunched together as a central overhead light too. And, these easily portable lights are perfect for adding a stylish glow for rental properties or student accommodation. Click here to buy
When you're entertaining, it's always useful to have a few extra areas for perching a glass of this or that and a bowl of nibbles. This is when a nest of tables comes into its own.
Look for occasional tables that tuck neatly inside each other and are easy to pull out when needed.
For a more unusual feel opt for an oval or triangular table top. These may also take up less room too.
If there's space in the middle of the nest, it could be a useful place for storing magazines too.
Where to store additional seating is always a problem, and even more so if you live in a small house or apartment. This chair is one solution. It folds up and then can be hung up next to your clothes in your wardrobe.
Available in five pastel colours, when not in use as a chair it might even be helpful in keeping the clothes hanging alongside it in the wardrobe in ironed shape too. The store which sells this is based in Germany, but they ship worldwide.
Now, it's likely that you can't squeeze an extra sofa into your lounge, but you might just have the space for this cute Hudson pouffe. It's perfect to pull out as an extra seat when entertaining; and when you're not, it becomes a comfy foot rest.
It's available in on trend copper, as well as a timeless Monochrome. As you can see through the wire base into the room beyond, it will also help to create that illusion of space that you're forever chasing. Although, if you wanted to make it more stylised and a useful storage area too, you could pop a few small books in a pile within the cage or a neat stack of magazines.
Sales' season is upon us, follow these three simple rules to ensure that you don't come away with a bargain that you don't really like or need:
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...
Have you spotted any great sales?
How clever is this? It's a little office that hangs on the wall. The Cupertino wall office comes in matt white or lacquered Oak or Walnut veneer and it can be folded away when not in use. Plus, it doubles up as a speaker - told you it was sound!
Integrated within are Bluetooth enabled speakers. The desk, designed for BoConcept by René Hougaard, also has storage space and a cable management system.
How clever is this? The As if From Nowhere range from Orla Reynolds Studio features a book case that conceals a table and four chairs. It's perfect for a home where you have no room for a permanent dining table or where you occasionally need additional table and seating space when entertaining.
The units arrived ready assembled and when you need table space, you simply slide the chairs and tables out of their slots. There is no construction required.
If you fancy something a little less boxy, it can be arranged in different configurations too. The units are sold in modular sections. If you need extra chairs and not a table, you could buy just the chair units and let them double up as bedside tables or side tables in the living room.
Prices start from £500 for a single chair and unit and rise to £3,180 for four chairs, two tables and six white bookcase compartments. Visit Orla Reynolds Studio for more information.
We are always on the hunt for big ideas for small spaces like this one, if you have seen something along these lines do share in the Comments below
You may also like Folding chair art
A strategically placed wall mirror can appear to almost double the size of a room. Hang a mirror opposite a window or doorway for maximum effect, as it will reflect the entrance or window back and make a solid wall appear to lead somewhere else. Grouping multiple mirrors makes the reflections go even further.
If you can find a mirror that matches the shape of your home's windows or doors, such as the one above, even better.
You could even cover a whole wall with a mirror. This is particularly effective in a small bathroom. You can find companies all over the web who cut mirrors to fit any space. Or opt for mirrored tiles, as shown above.
Make your mirrors work too. This one doubles up as a shelf, perfect for small ornaments, invitations and little items that you always like to keep to hand by the front door, such as sunglasses and keys.
Every little room can benefit form a mirror, just makes sure it's fitting. This cat-shaped mirror is perfect for a children's room, for example.
Now find out how you can use mirrors to grow your garden here
Radiators can now be more than a heat source. Here are some of our favourite multi-purpose designs:
Something to reflect, on this radiator doubles up as a mirror, ideal for a bedroom or lounge. The Spekkio is available in a painted or a coloured anodized finished.
This radiator is also a roomy shelf unit and although designed with bathrooms in mind, it could work equally well in a contemporary style bedroom and put to good use keeping perfectly stacked jumpers and T-shirts toasty.
Whilst this little number from MHS doubles up as a bench, and would particularly suit a hallway or landing.
Now learn more about fires that don't require chimneys here
Perhaps you live in a modern home with no chimney or the original fireplace in your home has been bricked up. Just because you have no flue and no inclination to install one, it doesn't mean you can not bring the warmth of a real flame into your home.
The latest bio-ethanol fireplaces are smoke free and don't require a flue or chimney. Although they don't give out quite as much heat as a standard wood-burning stove, it's enough to make a smallish room feel very cosy.
Whilst the most sophisticated designs with price tags to match are to be found at the top end of the market, there are a growing number of very stylish looking products to be got for less than £500 too.
These fireplaces run on a type of ethanol derived from plants such as corn, wheat, barley and sugarcane. You pour the required amount of this bio fuel into the intended vessel on the fire and light. It produces a clean, smoke-free flame instantly.
Discover how to make a tiny rental home feel cosy here
Ever since we won planning permission to make our teeny house a little larger, see How We Got Here for more, my kids and husband have been on at me to replace, what I think is our adequate-sized TV, with a vast screen that would take over our little lounge.
Then not long ago, I was at a press launch where my business card was put in a draw and I won a 50 inch all-singing, all-dancing TV. It arrived on the same day as the plumber to fix the boiler. He eyed it jealously and before my housemates had returned I'd sold it to him. I bought this rather beautiful mirror with the proceeds!
Only the dog spoke to me for quite a while after that.
I have now found the solution that satisfies all parties here, however. I have seen the Touchjet Pond Projector in action. This tiny contraption fits in the palm of your hand and projects a screen as big as any on sale on the high street onto any wall - or floor or ceiling for that matter.
What's more, the screen, which can be enlarged up to 80 inches, is interactive. I can't get my head around how it works, but using a stylus or the remote control, you can click on the projected image and direct it to launch YouTube, Netflix and various TV players so that you can watch a programme or film on any wall in your home.
There are also apps available that turn the screen into a whiteboard so that using the stylus drawing on the walls, or I guess the floor or ceiling, becomes possible. When you turn the projector off the artwork disappears. There are games that can be played on it too.
It connects to the mains or can be run on its rechargeable battery. I have no excuses now for rejecting the vast screen!
Check out our piece on clever little charging devices here
It looks like a funky mid-century modern apartment block, but you can't live in it. It can, however, live with you. This is the Penthouse Cabinet.
It's beautifully, uniquely stylish. It's crafted from a mix of Walnut, Maple, steel and glass and each 'apartment' features programmable remote-controlled lighting that can emit a soft, dim white glow or a bright rainbow of vibrant colour. It's also the perfect artistic focal point of a small room. Raised up on legs so that you can see the floor beneath - a space enhancing feature, it conceals plenty of hidden storage and those balconies are just made for perching cocktails on. Not cheap though, but only one hundred are being produced. From £4,800, Piece-UK.
Like this? The dolls house come coffee table might be right up your street too. See it here
You could be buying artworks by an as yet undiscovered 'next big thing' at a fraction of the price of its future worth. Plus, students tend to be restricted by budget and space, so most of their work is small-scale. Ceramic artist Ranjena Gohil is pictured above at her final year show, her beautiful ceramic ornaments and wall art were selling for a fraction of the price they would fetch in a private gallery.
If you're looking for some art work for your home, graduate final year art shows, where students often sell-off their work, are a great place to start.
I bought this lovely Blue Tit adorned milk bottle by the ceramic artist Jon Williams from a Christmas show at the Royal College of Art for less than £30.
Here are links to forthcoming new talent events
The Glasgow School of Art
University of the Arts London
Fresh - an exhibition of work by ceramic graduates in Stoke on Trent
The message on this Scrabble Tile banner light can be changed with your mood, just switch the transparent stickers.
A mix of alphabet letters can send a very striking message about the owner of a home or room. They are also very 'in' this season and there is no excuse, you can squeeze a few words into the weeniest of spaces.
Shed some more light and be witty at the same time with a collection of vintage industrial letter lights, perfect for a house party.
Define whose side you're on with these Luxury Love Letters, handmade in Somerset and available in five shades of Irish linen.
Children love to put their name on things, so bedroom signs always go down well. Discovered in Australia, these decorative letters are hand crafted from an acrylic base and topped with Japanese papers before being sealed with a thick resin coating.
And, these cushions could work well in a teen's room, perhaps spread along the bed to give it a sofa-feel during waking hours?
All of these products could be used in a rental home, to find out more on how to make rental property feel homely read on here
If you've strong ceilings - and you'd need to get an expert in to confirm this - then the on-trend swing seat is the perfect addition to your little living space. They are so comfy too!
These suspended seats work particularly well in a tight space because you can see underneath them and above them. This helps to create an optical illusion of more space, making your room feel larger than it really is.
Swing seats often work indoors and out too and they will have the same space enhancing effect in your garden.
And, kids are particular fans of swing seats. How cool is this giraffe seat? Not expensive either. Perfect for those head in the clouds moments.
If you liked this article, you will find our top tips for creating the illusion of space really useful too. Read on here for more advice on how to make the most of a weeny home
However small your home, you can always squeeze in a houseplant or two. The innovative containers around now, mean that these little pots of life can be suspended from the ceiling, hung from a wall or grouped in a little cluster along a window sill or on a bedside table. Use them also on the floor to hide ugly necessities, such as plugs and wireless hubs.
Just remember to keep your house plants simple and compact, says interior designer Jen Allmond who runs Bay Tree Trading and supports www.thejoyofplants.co.uk a website run by the Flower Council of Holland. 'If it's a dark area, stick to white flowers and variegated foliages as they will show up well and go with any existing colour scheme.
'Group small floral arrangements and houseplants together in co-ordinating containers, perhaps varying in size or shape. For instance use a Sansevieria Trifasciata or 'Mother in Laws Tongue' at the back for height with a small arrangement of white roses to the front next to a Nephrolepsis Exaltata Bostoniensis or 'Boston Fern’, this way your display will become a 'feature' of the room and create more impact.'
Place flowering plants in front of a mirror too, to double their size and their impact. And look to opt for plants that are useful as well as attractive if you can. The Swiss Cheese Plant and the Peace Lily, for example, are known for being particularly good at cleaning air. Whilst the sap of an Aloe Vera plant soothes skin complaints. And, why waste money on cut herbs when you can have a constant supply on your kitchen window sill?
Just, 'remember to consider the conditions required for individual plants. Don’t place an Orchid in a dark corner, it won't survive, and don't have shade tolerant plants such as ferns on a sunny windowsill,' warns Jen.
'Above all, experiment and don't be afraid to be bold.'
Have a tiny outdoor space, even just a front door step? You can still create a beautiful garden. Read on here for some interesting tips
I've held back for a while, it's nice to keep some things to yourself, but now I've decided to let you in on a little secret. How to find treasures on auction sites such as Ebay and classified ad sites such as GumTree.
By treasures, I mean pieces that look great, will last and will hold, or maybe even increase, their value if you want to resell them in the future.
Search for products from well-established, high-end design retailers: Liberty of London, Heals, Chaplins, Selfridges, Anthropologie and The Conran Shop, etc. All these stores specialise in expensive and generally well-built homewares and furniture, so if the product is genuine - and that's one thing I can't guarantee - it should be durable and to be able to bought for a fraction of its original price.
Search for products by up and coming designers that have recently been mentioned in the press. I bought a beautiful oak light fitting by Cornish-based designer Tom Raffield for less than a third of what it would have cost new. And, it was new, it was an unwanted gift still in its original packaging. Rory Dobner, Tom Dixon, Orla Keily and Donna Wilson are some of the other names I regularly scour the resale sites for.
Then you want to look for the designer products that are coming back into fashion. Vintage G-Plan, Ercol, Kartell and Eames products are very much sought after at the moment and there is so much of it about you can pick it up quite cheaply. Take a look at the Out of The Dark website for inspiration on how you can make these things over for the 21st century, they have a whole catalogue of furniture that you can buy and restore yourself, or save yourself the trouble and buy a newly restored piece direct from them. They have some fantastic pieces.
Vintage shop fittings, traditional wooden flip-top school desks, and architects' plan drawers are other pieces to look out for. These original pieces are growing in demand at the moment and will rise in value. Don't pay hundreds for them though.
Any private sellers selling pieces by any of the designers or companies mentioned obviously have good and expensive taste so always remember to check out what else they are selling whilst you are browsing. More often than not, their priority is to get rid, rather than get a good price. Happy hunting!
Marks and Spencer has just launched its new Home catalogue, bringing a welcome reminder that Spring is just around the corner. Look out for bold botanical prints and on-trend copper. Whilst, its leggy sofa, armchair and pouffe are just made for small homes. Find out more about how you can use your legs to grow your rooms here. It works in the bedroom too!