Creating the illusion of space in smaller properties

A few minor changes to the interior of a house or flat can easily create the illusion of space in smaller properties.

"Creating a sense of space doesn't have to be difficult, require an interior design degree or be inordinately expensive," says Tracy French, Provincial Manager of MortgageSA.

"The reflective value of light is indispensable when creating space," says French. "Dark colours absorb light and shrink already small areas. Bright and lightly coloured walls will not only lift up the whole room but also give the impression of height."

"But," she warns, "be careful of creating too much "busyness". A rule of thumb in smaller areas is to keep the scheme simple and monochromatic."

Continuity and flow comes from choosing and matching pieces with similar appeal. The effect is soothing and, in this way, nothing jumps out at the viewer.

"Use as much natural light as possible" advises French. "Natural light penetrates an interior space up to 7m and should be used to its fullest potential."

"A positive way of maximising the effect of light is to take advantage of mirrors," she says. "Mirrors create depth by replicating light and also by creating the illusion of a doubled room. To make the most of this, don't only use hanging mirrors but also mirrored surfaces such as counters and coffee tables."

"To generate volume at night scatter a few lamps throughout the room," says French. "You can also use a mix of lights such as downlighters, standing and desk lamps which will brighten up the room and bounce different waves of light off different surfaces."

The optimum use of furniture is also a good way to create space.

"Throw out anything that is not absolutely necessary which includes bulky and dark furniture, even if it did belong to your grandmother," suggests French. "You may find removing even one item creates far more space."

"Rather invest in simple, streamlined furniture," she says. "Try to have pieces that have legs and are not boxy. Not only will you have created space but also the functionality of the room improves as well."

On the same note, choose furniture that serves more than one function, such as a couch that turns into a bed. Storage boxes can be used as counter space or form part of a coffee table. Be careful not to use pieces that take up too much height as this crowds the room.

Placing furniture along the walls will automatically create more space in the centre of the room. Clear the walkways and keep the floor clear; if you can see from one room to another it immediately opens up the entire space.

"Focus on living within a corner leaving the furthest areas from the door open and uncluttered" she advises.

"Large carpets are good to define the space as they create an impression of generousness and continuity - they should not be heavily patterned as plain textures work best," French suggests.

Finally, keep the window dressings simple.

"Blinds and curtains should be hung from midway between the ceiling and the top of the window to make sure that these are not too voluminous for the space they are in," French concludes.

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"Rather invest in simple, streamlined furniture," she says. "Try to have pieces that have legs and are not boxy. Not only will you have created space but also the functionality of the room improves as well."