Small space living
When I moved to London ten years ago I knew what I was getting myself in for when it came to house sizes and prices. I left my life in South Wales where houses have gardens and rent doesn’t cost you half your salary per month, for the exciting city life. Over the years I have lived in lots of places, student halls, student flats and finally I did the big girl adult thing and moved in with my significant other. The most we could afford to rent was a one bedroom flat and luckily we managed to find a perfect place in a beautiful location, and the size was perfect. But as the years have gone on and we have added two cats to our family and I have started working from home things have felt a little tighter than usual and I have had to get used to small space living.
We toyed with the idea of moving but nothing else seemed to compare with our pricing and incredible location just two minutes from a tube station. Instead we decided to find ways to make our small space work for us and our ever changing lifestyle in order to keep saving for our potential dream home. With a few trips to IKEA and some help from my husband DIY Dan we got to work on making our space work for us. In light of this I thought I would share these tips for anyone else struggling with small home living.
1. Have regular clear outs
One of the main issues we found with our flat feeling smaller was that we just had too much stuff. I’m a sentimental old soul and I often find it hard to let go of things, unfortunately when you live in a small flat this can be very problematic. To combat this every three months I now try and have a good home sweep, those draws stuffed with useless junk mail and takeaway menus – get rid. Recycle old magazines, and gather a bag of things that could be taken to the charity shop or even try and invite your pals over to have a look through and see if there is anything they want. I learnt the hard way that leaving it until the end of the year is a bad idea and causes way more stress that it’s worth.
2. Utilise wall space
As we only live in a one bedroom flat there was no extra room for me to have my own separate office space. Due to this I spent many days working from home sitting awkwardly and uncomfortably on my sofa. I knew this was bad for my posture, and my general well being so I set out to find a space that could work. The bedroom was automatically off limits because I wanted to keep my work space completely away from the place that I sleep. This left finding a way to make it work in my living room and after just a couple of hours scouring I found the perfect solution; a Ladder Desk This not only made a cool, creative space for me to work but also offered more storage by using otherwise empty wall space. It also worked perfectly with my modern and stylish swivel desk chair which has all the benefits of a traditional office chair without the clunky ugliness.
3. Make furniture function
how you want it to
The number one thing I learnt with living in a small house is that you have to make the best out of the space and the things you have. Just because a book shelf is called a book shelf it doesn’t mean you have to put books on it. Our west elm book shelf functions as storage for our beautiful serving bowls and kitchen pottery, allowing for more space in the kitchen.
Searching IKEA hacks also changed the game for us. A picture shelf became storage for mugs and washing utensils above our sink, a lack floating shelf became our tea and coffee station and our windowsill became a place for our vibrant cookbooks. These little things really made all the difference to our space and helped make the house feel less cluttered and messy.
4. Invest in better
Having a small kitchen was perhaps the most difficult part to over come of living in a smaller flat. I love to cook and am a major foodie which meant making room for all my kitchen gadgets and my selection of ever growing food items. Unfortunately due to having a boiler installed in the kitchen we went from five working cupboards down to only three. The cupboards were bursting at the seams and I was struggling to find places to put things whilst also having the space to cook.
It made logical sense to minimise the amount of packaging that was clogging up vital space in the cupboards so we took another trip to IKEA and bought a selection of glass food storage. Not only does it reduce the amount of packaging but it also keeps things fresher a lot longer when kept in airtight glass. I also swapped out all my old plastic Tupperware for glass which is both easier to clean and more environmentally friendly.
5. Add plants to your space
Introducing plants into our home has been the best thing we have ever done. Not only do they complete change the space and make it feel more welcoming but some plants actually offer health benefits such as improved mood, reduced stress levels and improved breathing. I'll be honest buying plants isn't as cheap as you might think but I personally believe it is worth the cost, for one it has helped me form a routine by watering every week. It is also really rewarding watching them grow, our small palm is now huge and has sprouted two new giant palm leaves since we first got it.
We purchased most of our plants from a number of places but my personal recommendation would be to go to a garden centre or specific plant shop as they have lasted a lot longer than the ones that we bought from IKEA. If you are a pet owner I would also recommend making sure you research types of plants that are pet friendly as some plants can be highly toxic to animals.
SHOP THE ITEMS IN MY HOME
Leaning Ladder desk - Futon Company similar & cheaper found at John Lewis
Striped swivel desk chair - West Elm *
Mid Century Arm Chair - West Elm*
Moroccan Poof - Bought in Marrakech (similar here)
Mid Century Book Shelf - West Elm*
Wooden Leg Planter - West Elm *
All items with * were very kindly gifted to me