If you’re an advocate of the tiny-house movement, you’re not alone.
Living simply in small homes is *a thing* in the United States, as well as other developed countries such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom. With factors such as recession and rising property prices, small apartments are much more affordable options (and definitely easier to clean), especially for singles or those without children.
While the size definition of a ‘small house’ varies (from less than 37 sq m to a maximum of 93 sq m), Singapore homes kind of fit the bill. The floor area of typical HDB flats ranges from 36 sq m (2-room flexi, type 1) to 90 sq m (4-room flat). For shoebox or 1-bedroom condo units, it’s 50 sq m to 70 sq m.
When you live in a small home, space efficiency is of the utmost importance, especially if you have lots of stuff or want to minimise clutter. Maybe you just want more space for guests or want to make your living quarters appear less cramped.
Whatever the reason, we’ll agree that for your abode, more space is always better. In collaboration with Qanvast – a renovation platform – we present to you seven innovative renovation ideas to maximise the space efficiency in your small apartment.
1. Skip the false ceiling
False ceilings are great if you need to conceal messy electrical wiring, or for other purposes such as sound-proofing or allowing the installation of aesthetically-pleasing cove lights. Those who install false ceilings say it helps with thermal insulation (keeping the house cool/warm) or even prevents damage to your actual ceiling.
Those are all great reasons, but given that the ceilings in Singapore homes aren’t very high, having a false ceiling could make your apartment look even more cramped and tiny. Plus, if not kept clean, that pocket of space could trap dirt and even house creepy crawlies – yikes!
For this 37 sq m home, a simple light fixture on the ceiling provides visual respite to the busy space, which is filled with shelves, books, decor and furniture.
Inspiration: 37m² BTO in Buangkok Crescent
Renovation cost: $25,000
2. Use simple colours to brighten up the space
When it comes to colours, less is more. While a multi-hued interior would suit quirky individuals, the many visual elements (even more if you incorporate patterned wallpaper or textural effects on your walls) might make your space look smaller than it actually is.
Choose a light, simple colour scheme as this helps your space appear more spacious and airy. Lighter shades tend to reflect light for a brighter home, while darker shades absorb it. For Scandinavian-themed homes, the colour palette is kept light. The designs typically also include lots of wood-like surfaces and even accents of turquoise, black or green to keep things interesting.
Inspiration: 69m² resale HDB on Havelock Road
Renovation cost: $55,000
Inspiration: 45m² resale condo at Levenue
Renovation cost: $65,000
3. Compartmentalisation is key
Compartmentalisation, or segregating different areas to create a multifunctional space with defined boundaries not only helps to reduce clutter, but also gives an impression of extra space.
To make every inch count, a living area can also be used as a dining area, work/activity/relaxation area and also incorporate storage. In a space where the kitchen and living areas meet, compartmentalisation through a shift in colours and textures also help each part of the home stay distinct.
Inspiration: 36m² BTO on Canberra Street
Renovation cost: $20,000
4. Use glass walls
Glass has a unique quality — it can physically divide yet still let in light, while giving the illusion that the space is open and accessible.
Using glass walls in the home, especially those with coloured frames, really help to add geometric interest to your home. They provide a sense of openness, yet as a physical barrier, retains a semblance of privacy for the person within. In a room with deeper tones, having glass walls really help to balance out the dark colours, creating a fascinating interplay of light and visually opening up the space.
Renovation cost: $28,000
5. Hack down a room for a larger living space
In an already-small space, sometimes it’s worth removing walls to really open up the area for a more spacious-looking home. Although this might compromise privacy or wall real estate for cupboards or hanging decor, an open concept home becomes a fantastic social area or a fun play area for your active child.
Do keep in mind that hacking walls can add significant cost to your renovation bill. Additionally, it may lower your property’s value.
Renovation cost: $37,000
Renovation cost: $90,000
6. Maximise storage, such as a platform bed
Adequate storage not only helps you stow your belongings, but also keeps clutter out of sight for a neat-looking home whenever guests drop by. Storage that’s flush against your walls do take up some precious space, but the clean lines and minimal clutter really help your home look more spacious and clean.
Another alternative is to maximise the storage areas in “hidden” areas — such as under your bay window seat and benches, inside your coffee table, and even within your platform bed. These offer plenty of storage space while looking sleek.
Renovation cost: $44,000
Renovation cost: $45,000
7. Have An Open Kitchen
Just like how you can open up your living space by hacking walls, turning your kitchen into an open-concept one can also make it look more spacious. Through a simple hack, such as using similar colours for your living room and kitchen, both can look like two parts of a larger whole, where the dining table also becomes an excellent kitchen island or a “tasting table” for the chef of the house.
One (small) downside though — if your cooking tends to involve a lot of frying or oil, an open-concept kitchen also means that the cooking fumes and oil splatters may also invade your living space.
Renovation cost: $33,000
Inspiration: 72m² BTO at Circuit Road
Renovation cost: $90,000
Other ways to maximise space without major renovation works
You might have chanced upon this article long after your home renovation was complete. Or perhaps you don’t quite have the budget to do extensive works such as hacking, building glass walls, or lots of carpentry.
That’s okay, you can also maximise the spaciousness of your home. Here are some other simple ways to create an illusion of more space.
1. Use mirrors to strategically enlarge the space
Mirrors serve multiple functions — they reflect light for a brighter space, and also create the illusion that your home is much larger than it is. Mirrors also create a classy, sophisticated look, conceal a room for enhanced privacy, or even serve as a unique feature wall.
2. Pick furniture with exposed legs
Bulky furniture is a no-no in small homes, as their blocky shapes add to the cramped feeling of your already teeny-weeny apartment. By choosing smaller and slender pieces of furniture with exposed legs, these give the illusion that your furniture is floating, as the legs allow visual breathing room and for light to filter through. Another bonus: It’s easier to retrieve lost objects and clean under them too.
Inspiration: 68m² BTO at Circuit Road
Renovation cost: $30,560
Inspiration: 68m² BTO at St. George’s Lane
Renovation cost: $38,000
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