How To Design A Small Living Space



The Task

I can lose myself for hours pouring over interiors on Instagram, journals, blogs etc. I love all things ‘interiors’ the way some girls love shoes, (but as a size 9 that is a World where I can’t fully get involved, alas, I will just love cushions and mirrors instead). So when it came to planning this spatially challenged apartment, I knew there was a way of turning it from drab to fab! The flat in Birmingham is undeniably small, however, the location is great and there is heaps of potential; I just needed to figure out how to maximise the small space living theme.


Budget – Space – Storage

Budget is the common theme in all property projects, this one is no exception, but for this renovation we have had to focus. “What will have the most impact?” From this I looked at the flat another way. Currently, what is having the most impact? (But, for all the wrong reasons).

The kitchen. When you can stretch out your arms and touch both sides of the kitchen, you know it’s teeny tiny.

The bathroom. I am 5.9” so standing under the shower head over the bath, (with a sloped roof forcing your head to 90 degrees) is not how I would like to start my morning. Add to this the ‘bug graveyard’ that came with it and you’ve got yourself a pretty unwelcoming space!

Flow. The way you can move through a space, the light and the way you generally feel when you are in it, is something that is pretty hard to describe but instinctive when you see / feel it. This flat was ‘boxy’ that’s probably not the technical term, but each room felt disconnected from the next and it emphasised the lack of space and light.

Storage. There is next to no storage, even a minimalist would struggle.


When you can identify all the things that aren’t working, we can go about finding solutions. It’s a work in progress but this was the plan…

By knocking out the wall between the kitchen and living space, it creates more light and a feeling of space. This opens up the possibility of more storage and more functional usage, such as a breakfast bar and a taller unit to store larger items such as an ironing board and hoover. Sitting at the back of the property it doesn’t benefit from the sun pouring in, changing the units to gloss white will reflect the light and brighten the space.

In the living area, using spaces that would otherwise be wasted is an opportunity for storage. Building a shelving area and cupboard to fit the gap by the chimney saves on floor space by going up the wall. This will carry on into the bedroom, where floating shelves will create spaces without using the floor. Storage can also be maximised by using under bed space etc.

Aaah the bathroom, this was a decision between budget and functionality. It would have been cheaper to keep the existing suite and upgrade the tiles and floor. But this is where increasing the budget will pay off. Kitchens and bathrooms sell properties. I personally couldn’t live with such a claustrophobic space and this would have affected the rentability of the place I’m sure. The added expense of this will add value to the property but has meant assessing other areas and finding alternative solutions to help reign in the budget. In this project we opted for a less expensive worktop, made a breakfast bar instead buying it and replaced a panel in the door rather than buy a new one. My previous post goes into more detail on how to make savings when you are renovating,

It hasn’t taken long to transform this space and the difference is really paying off. I will let you know how it rents out! If you want to see further progress shots, you can follow us on Instagram

How do you work with small spaces? I would love to hear your small space hacks.

40 thoughts on “How To Design A Small Living Space

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