Author: Intan Norela
Whenever I mention to people I’ve just met that I am an interior designer, many would ask me if I do homes. Which makes me wonder; are most people are not comfortable with the space they live in, or do they just have an idea but do not know how to implement these ideas? For the former, the dweller needs to ascertain the issues they are uncomfortable with, whilst the latter just requires a contractor. But be warned – beautiful interior shots in catalogues and magazine have been touched up, or high/low lighted to look more glamorous than they really may be.
Now, being comfortable is your space can be tricky. What you may like, your partner may abhor, like the collection of soft toys or the numerous memorabilia that clutter the space and eventually, the mind. And what with KL abodes getting smaller as developers look to maximize dwelling to land ratio, home owners are now faced with more possessions in lesser space.
So let’s visit a couple of scenarios here. The first is a childless couple in 700 sqft of space and the second is a family with three kids in a 1000 sqft apartment. Mom and Dad share a room with baby and the other 2 kids are in the next room. Imagine toys strewn everywhere, dad’s CD and car magazine collection and mom’s cook books and magazines sharing the crowded space. Good if there is a balcony where the tricycles will be parked, alongside the pots of plants and laundry. Still, IKEA catalogues can make order out of this havoc, so why not you?
First rule of thumb, is if you have this much clutter, advocate smart organization. This means not cluttering floor space with boxes, but look at your walls for solutions. Hang from ceiling or walls and use shelf, not floor space. Use colour coded boxes to organize and to make your walls look fun or if they are not nice looking hang a nice curtain over it to make it look like a feature wall. If you can afford to, get a contractor to build you floor to ceiling, wall to wall cabinet space. Cabinet doors nowadays are not your expected timber or dull laminated panels; you could not get cabinet doors in light or bright colours and opt for the glossy surface to bounce off as much light as possible. Or if you can spend more, use coloured glass on doors for a classier clean look.
Get an Inch and turn it to a Yard
So how do you make 1000 sqft look like 1500 sqft? Mirrors along corridors help double any tight space in size and use lighter pearl finish to wall to give the illusion of space. Light curtains and furniture do the same although I would like at least one wall to be accented in a duskier tone of blue or green/olive if it’s the living room to set off the off-white furniture and dusky red/purple in solace space where you want to rest. Keep the other walls in a warm off-white tone.
But what if you have a toddler who is constantly covered in chocolate? Off white furniture would be disastrous, so opt for one with fabric with a busy pattern in the foreground to hide ‘accidents’. Complement with lighter colour coffee and side tables but choose those with shelves or compartments to store reading materials. Forget glass table tops because cleaning chocolate finger prints will drive you crazy. Throw rugs in solid colours add warmth and ‘anchors’ a colour scheme but make sure you have an underlay to prevent mishaps. Use table or floor lamps to add cosiness and if that’s too hazardous with small children, opt for hanging pendant lights at corners for feature and function. Lighting can really make or break a space, as it sets the mood of the environment. Children tend to calm down with cosier light setting instead of a bright space that may be too energetic.
Child Free and Maximizing It
So let’s move to the next scenario with the young, childless couple in a 700 sqft apartment. Space planning is crucial as you want to make every square inch count. Every piece of furniture should have a double function, either as storage or as work space. Movable furniture, especially side tables or screens increases function of a tight space. Of course, walls are to be used to the max – maximize storage shelves in the kitchen, work space and at least one wall in the living for display items.
And with any couples starting a new life together, there is always the issue of his and hers stuff. Manage the clutter – confine the small stuff in a designated area, theme it to make it fun, but always contain the clutter. And throw or give away stuff that you have outgrown. Big stuff like bikes can be hung off the walls and golf clubs in a corner.
Keep furniture simple and proportionate in size, and where possible double its function, like a daybed is a sofa during the day and bed at night. Finally, an oversized mirror always does the trick of enlarging the space, bouncing light into the space. And when you can afford it, use indirect lighting like ceiling trough lights as it seems to bathe the space with light, making it brighter and larger.
About Intan Norela
Intan Norela has been practicing Interior Design for 18 years and now runs a Design Incubator spitting out young designers who have been exposed to projects the likes of Harrods Café, Sama Sama Express, the new air side transit hotel in KLIA2 and privately owned cosmetic and aesthetic centre, the Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre. When not doodling, Intan loves her catnaps and swears that it keeps her looking younger than her age. And when she’s not power-napping, she is travelling and being intrigued by shapes, textures and the role of objects in people’s lives.