How to Make the Most of the Space You Have

Often clients come to me with a grand vision, but daunted by the realities imposed by their budget, space, or deadline. They hope to get everything they want, but understand that they may have to settle for less.

The first thing I try to do is show them that there are more solutions than they might imagine.

One way to get the most out of your home is efficient use of space. Whether you have 60 square meters or 350 sqm to play with, your architect can help you figure out how to maximize every centimeter.

Technique One: Break the Box

Often, we tend to conceptualize the space we have as rectangular with straight walls. This may be convenient for placing Ikea-bought bookshelves, but if you’re willing to think creatively, changing the shape of the space you have might give you more options. A slight curve can create more room where needed on one side of a partition—say, for a closet in a bedroom – and more where needed on the other side of the partition for example creating an oval dining room where you can fit an oval table without wasting space. Using curves can really make the space come alive without using up extra square meters.

Technique Two: Use Specialty Staircases

If a full staircase would take too much space, consider some less conventional options. Spiral staircases, for example, use minimal floorspace. Another creative solution is alternating tread stairs: a staircase that’s split lengthwise with the treads realigned so each ascending stair is on an alternate side; this design saves half the floorspace. It doesn’t always meet building codes, so you won’t find it in public buildings, but alternating tread stairs are perfectly usable for your home – especially for access to an attic you want to turn into extra bedrooms or a play area. Even better for play areas are ladders: the fastest way to gain height without losing floorspace! Good architectural design takes the vertical dimension of your space into account.

Technique Three: Save Rooms; Embrace Nooks

Okay, so you need to do laundry; but do you really need to dedicate a space for it at the expense of the living room or bedrooms? Instead, consider building a laundry closet off the hall, with louvered doors to allow ventilation, a vent to the outside, and sufficient space for your washer, dryer, basket, and other laundry necessities (even a sink if you want). That way, your laundry nook is tucked out of the way, and your guests will never know it’s there.

Technique Four: Place Rooms and Windows Strategically

When designing a new home, or renovating an old one, decide with your architect how to strategically place your rooms. Do you really need windows in your bathroom or laundry room? If you live in Jerusalem or Gush Etzion, those windows are probably just making you cold; if you’re in Bet Shemesh, they’re letting the heat in. What if you moved the service rooms to the inner core of your house, ventilated them differently, and used the extra outer room for another bedroom, a larger living room, or a bay window for your kitchen? This will lend your home a more airy and spacious feel and give you more exterior façade for a view where you’ll enjoy it most.

Technique Five: Maximize Your Use of Kitchen Space

You want more counter space in your kitchen, but you also want a kitchen table. You want privacy in the kitchen, but not to feel cut off from what’s going on in the dining room. A bar island or peninsula can create counter-height working space; placing bar stools or chairs around it transform it into a breakfast or homework table. If you want more privacy, you can build a shelf high enough to cut the line of sight; if you want a more roomy, open feel, leave the counter top at a height of 90cm and let the space flow between the rooms. Not sure? No problem: install sliding doors or latticed windows that can be opened for more space and closed for more privacy.

Technique Six: Fill the Dead Corners

Corners in kitchens or bedrooms can go to waste as dead space, unreachable from either side. If that dead corner is accessible from an adjacent room, flip it around and install a closet facing the other way. If not, utilize specialty hardware like a “magic corner” to allow you to pull out shelving that’s tucked away around a 90-degree turn.

Technique Seven: Use Smart Furniture

If you have a small apartment and can’t fit enough rooms to house all your needs, consider multiple-use furniture. You can install a desk and shelving unit that converts into a double bed without a need to remove anything from the shelves or unmake the bed. If you need an extra bunk bed but don’t have the room width, try a folding bunk bed with a removable ladder that collapses to a depth of 30cm. Add a trundle bed that stores beneath the bottom bunk if you need to fit another bed in the room. If you have a studio that needs a bed, a sofa, and a desk in the same space – it can be done! These solutions aren’t cheap, but they’re still cheaper than adding a room on your house – which isn’t always an option anyway.

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