Working with small places

As our homes in Singapore shrink, and our government tells us we still have enough space (ha!), we face the prospects of having to put up with smaller interiors and changing our expectations of how we decorate or furnish our homes.

Our eyes can be bigger than our living rooms, and we can run the risk of turning our new homes into a congested, untidy storeroom in our haste and enthusiasm to get all those cool and pretty pieces of furniture for our homes.

So here are some points that I garnered during my own hunt:

- measure your home properly
This means more than merely taking out the tape and recording the dimensions. That's important to get right, but also simulate what you will place inside. For example, the width of my dining hall is about 3m, but when I placed a cardboard piece which represented the size of my table (130 by 85cm), it filled up this space amply. Throw in some chairs and the place starts to look very cramped.

- ensure that there is flow and moving space
Like what I mentioned above, you need room to move about, and you can't buy a bed which fits your bedroom dimensions exactly, throw in a cupboard and expect room to move. Instead, a rule of thumb is that you need 70-90cm of space to walk around, and each chair at the dining table will take up another 50cm of space.

You also need space to walk past the table, or simply to avoid letting the whole place look too small.

- get the essential pieces to start off

Most homes will need a dining table, some sofa/lounge chairs etc but don't pack everything into that Ikea van so you save on delivery charges. Leave some room, re-assess and then go for another round of shopping. It's fun, and you can change the theme, the whole look if the first round didn't really suit you.

- get those extras later
For little knick knacks, wait; settle the big pieces of furniture, the static items like the kitchen etc, then aim for the paintings, mirrors, or wall decor. That way, you can have an idea of how much space you have first.

- Colors
Lighter colors will make a smaller home look larger
Mirrors work too, but be careful not to have too many things on the wall.
You can have one dark colored wall, just be careful not to overdo it.

- measure that sofa
Again like the dining table, some two seater sofas are really huge, even though the actual sitting space is limited to two.
Slimmer arm pieces, or using a more streamlined design can help. Cushy sofas, and large leg extensions may not suit the new "mickey mouse" breed of homes.

Ultimately, you just need a little attention to detail to get the proportions right.

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