Making a Home out of a Shoe Box

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20th Jul, 2010

30 square foot apartment by Queeste Architecten

When my  flat mate/ landlord moved back from New York, I was cruelly kicked out of my spacious master bedroom and banished to a drastically smaller box room. Although it arguably had the window with the best view, it nonetheless took some adjusting. I felt fifteen again–then again even at fifteen, my bedroom was still at least five times the size of the one I’m living in now. The fact is, we’re all growing up and when we leave the nest, we have to start making some sacrifices and living according to a budget. It’s that time of year when students and graduates alike are preparing to find accommodation in new cities and realising that downsizing will be a large part of the process. Small spaces need time and commitment to make the most out of. I came across an inspiring news segment on architect Gary Chang, who puts us space wasters to shame, having transformed his one room apartment into 24 rooms. Sound impossible? Behold..

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While we can’t all install sliding walls into our studio apartments, there are still several ways that we can create more dynamic space.

My cosy little shoebox

In a small bedroom, as Gary Chang tells us, the bed always occupies the most dominant area of a room. As much as I like to hang out with my wonderful flat mate in the living room, sometimes I just want some quiet time without having to roll around on a bed. I refuse to sacrifice my quality of sleep with an uncomfortable futon and so I opted for a three-quarter sized bed (larger than a single, smaller than a double) which uses less space and when adorned with pretty pillows, doubles as a comfy lounging area. Mirrors are also extremely important. I was lucky enough to have an extremely large antique mirror positioned directly opposite my window (see left) which essentially doubles the amount of light and adds an illusion of added space.

Closet Organisation by Lehlo Interiors

Closet organisation is the key to a clutter-free room, especially for us girls. Invest in some classic wicker baskets to house shoes and accessories, vacuum storage bags for out of season items and install a curtain to slide close when it all gets a little messy ;) Cath Kidston is a great place to stock up on shabby chic accessories for organising your shelves and closet space. It’s just not necessary to have a big and bulky wardrobe taking up space in your room. I remember my very talented childhood friend, Cleme De Grivel had a beautifully arranged open plan closet, her pretty clothes and shoes lining the walls of her bedroom. Today she is building her own interior design company, Lehlo Interiors and still applies this style within her clients’ homes, insisting, “open shelving lightens the look but holds as much as a wardrobe”.

If you’re living in a studio apartment and tired of having people see the ins and outs of your sleeping area, it’s time to think about purchasing some room dividers. J’adore these Paris screens from the French Bedroom Company.

Once you’ve spent hours clearing clutter, it’s no use having your electricals taking up half the tabletop space. Swap black, bulky music speakers with attractive transparent ones and save time on dusting big lampshades with pretty  twinkle lights draped elegantly around the room. These cherry blossom branch lights from Graham & Green are a fun way of illumating a room.

Good luck to all the students, graduates, those relocating and starting new jobs! I hope this motivates you a little to make the most of your new accomodation and makes the thought of downsizing a little less daunting for you.

Remember, a home is what you make it ;)


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