28th November 2021
From tiny tweaks to major move-rounds, here’s our room-by-room guide to making the most of your living space. Amanda Loose shares some top tips from local experts
“In my opinion, the hallway is one of the most important areas of the house and often the most under-utilised. It is the first room that you see when entering the house so should set the tone for the rest of the home. I often use built in cabinetry to create a boot room feel in a large hallway or use a console table with lamps to create a warm welcoming atmosphere. If the hall is very narrow and won’t take any furniture then panelling, wall lighting and a gallery of art work really well to make the space feel inviting.”
Sophie Allsopp, interior designer, Sophie & Boo Interiors, 07813 177330 www.sophieandboo.co.uk
“In recent months they’ve taken on more functions than ever before – we find many existing kitchens can’t cope and often we need to start from scratch! However, what if that’s not an option right now? Firstly, declutter and organise in a new way. Think clear bins to store your food, invest in drawer dividers and pull-outs. We recommend adding internal drawers in your cupboards and LeMans corner solutions for the hard to get to spaces.
“Another tip is open shelves – they’re often used to store cookbooks but also to get small appliances and phone chargers off your worktop! If you struggle for storage, how about investing in a free-standing butcher’s block/island units, or why not add a larder unit that can double up as a breakfast cupboard?”
Olga Jaszewska, interior designer, Mulberry Kitchen Studios, 01603 404644 www.mulberrykitchens.com
“Often utility rooms are small rooms that need to work really hard. Use every inch of space, including the height. Think high shelves for storing extra cleaning products, bulky items like pet food etc. Do you have the space to fit my favourite height space saver – the pulley – ideal for drying clothes out of the way during the winter months?
“Have two (or more) washing baskets, ideally one slightly smaller than the other so they can be stored inside each other when not in use. This is invaluable for sorting washing quickly and for sorting dry washing into piles for their ‘owner’ for delivery to wardrobes.”
Barbara Herring, professional organiser, Be Organised with B, 07855 758612 www.beorganisedwithb.co.uk
The sitting room
“The best way to get started making the most of your sitting room is to add illusion of space with mirrors. They make a boxed in room feel open and airy, especially when placed opposite a window or behind a piece of furniture. Curtains have the power to completely transform your sitting room; they bring in colour, pattern and a feeling of comfort to an interior space.
“Pick one or two well-curated items to create a dramatic design moment keeping the rest of the room clutter-free to balance the scale. The use of a large area rug is both functional and stylish, but more importantly it anchors a space and provides a stage for furnishings.”
Nanci Gillett, interior designer, Burnham Interiors, 01328 730989 www.burnhaminteriors.co.uk
An open plan room
“Many of us have fallen in love with open plan design for our homes, but this can be impractical when there are differing requirements of family members – trying to carve a space to work, for example, or creating a relaxed dining zone while the kids enjoy a movie with popcorn.
“One solution is to use glazing, available in a range of contemporary or classic styles to divide space without breaking the visual flow of an area. Think a modern reinterpretation of sliding or French doors traditionally found in period homes. Crittall-style aluminium frames, such as these (pictured) from West Norfolk Glass, are a stylish way to create a flexible living space that can be cosy and intimate, or opened up as required.”
Geoff Parker, managing director, West Norfolk Glass, 01553 763164 www.westnorfolkglass.co.uk
The home office
“At the start of lockdown in 2020 we were in the middle of moving home which also meant we had to move and downsize our office. I need to have enough space to work, to store important documents, folders, paints, wallpaper samples… the list is never ending. We purchased a bookcase that not only has shelves but has a cupboard underneath. It doesn’t look like office furniture and will tie in with my wardrobe (the office is also effectively our spare room).
“I hate looking at plain walls, so we have decided to give a blackboard wall a go on the back wall. My vision is to have a calm colour on the walls and a crazy print on Roman blinds. I want a mix of home and office – wish me luck!”
Laura Tipple, Tipple & Co Decorators, 01553 760276 www.tippleandco.co.uk
The hybrid room
“Day beds are the perfect choice for those looking to make space in their home but still keep a room for the occasional guest. By day, a cosy chillout area or a working from home sanctuary and by night a relaxing retreat for the solo sleeper, day beds are the ideal multifunctional item of bedroom furniture for making more space. We offer a stylish range of handmade wrought iron day beds which are guaranteed to last a lifetime, including the Grace from £795, (pictured). Box clever with some pretty baskets or storage boxes to utilise the under-day bed storage space, too.”
Harry Thompson, Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Co, 01485 542516 www.wroughtironandbrassbed.co.uk
That small bedroom
“My recent challenge was a small dark bedroom I needed to convert into an adult twin for our holiday let cottage (right). I did this using a Christian Lacroix scenic wallpaper, wall lights (rather than bedside lamps which take up too much room) and beds and drawers with legs so that the eye is drawn underneath, creating a sense of space. Curtains were replaced with Roman blinds (again, neater and less fuss) and the chest of drawers doubled as a bedside table. An open clothes rail gives another sense of space but serves the purpose.”
“Bathrooms can be a challenging space to add personality to if you are stuck with your existing suite and tiles. Quick fixes like painting the walls in a bold colour, adding a beautiful oversized mirror can make a small room look a lot bigger. Change a standard mirror light for something with more character (just check the IP rating is suitable to its location) and even upgrading your taps doesn’t have to cost the earth.
“I like adding a Roman blind to the window, a nice bathmat, towels and don’t forget a bathroom can offer perfect conditions for a house plant.”
Kate Thomson, interior designer, Kate Thomson Design, 07825 566627 www.katethomsondesign.co.uk
A child’s room
“Children’s rooms definitely don’t need to be big and with clever decorating, you won’t need to constantly reinvent the wheel either. Small rooms can look fabulous and somehow seem much larger when covered in wallpaper – don’t go for a cartoon or baby themed motif, rather choose a subtle print or pattern that will stand the test of time – there are literally thousands to choose from to suit all budgets. Contrast your walls with a plain curtain or blind, trimmed in fan-edging or bobble trim for added interest.
“Spend time choosing things to put on the wall that you love looking at; all these things will be etched into both yours and your child’s memories for years to come.”
Hattie Goodley, founder of nursery brand Willa & the Bear, www.willaandthebear.com