Space, the final frontier

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2011, 12:00am


Poky apartments can be improved with some basic design tips to create the illusion of space. Tara Highfield from Tara Highfield Designs shares her knowledge to help create more open, spacious interiors.

'Mirrors reflect and create depth,' she says. 'By placing a mirror on the kitchen wall opposite the cabinets, the reflection gives an illusion of double the cabinetry.'

Make sure the mirrors reflect only the things you want to see more of. Don't place a mirror directly across from a laundry basket or toilet.

Instead, try placing it across from a source of light, a favourite painting or a window.

A mirror at the end of a hallway will give the illusion of length.

Highfield is also a fan of shiny materials such as high-gloss lacquer cabinets and glossy countertops because both are reflective surfaces that continue to brighten a space.

Glass also helps create an illusion of greater depth. 'An example of this would be using clear glass cabinet doors for storing wine glasses, plates or anything that is nice to look at,' she says.

Glass-topped tables also look less bulky than solid ones. Doors with one or more glass panels can make a considerable difference to a small space. Not only do they let more light into the area, they also form a less substantial barrier.

Be careful with your selection of colours as certain tones can expand a room, while others make it seem smaller. 'Lighter colours make the space feel brighter and bigger,' says Highfield. Instead of paint, try light-coloured wallpaper with a small pattern to achieve the same sense of spaciousness.

Also pay attention to vertical or horizontal lines. 'If you are looking for the illusion of increased length, horizontal lines are important, and if you are looking to increase the illusion of height, vertical lines are important,' Highfield says.

Try using at least one tall element in the room to draw the eye upward, towards the ceiling. Not only does this maximise the vertical space, it also draws the eye to the less crowded ceiling space above.

Highfield says another trick is to maintain consistency of flooring throughout the living space.

'The kitchen should have the same flooring as the living room. By doing this, it eliminates boundaries, so no one knows where the kitchen begins and ends.'

Finally, try to keep your apartment tidy. 'Clutter makes spaces feel smaller, so be sure to have enough cabinet storage space to put things away or get rid of any junk lying around,' says Highfield. Try also minimising the amount of furniture you have in each room by selecting furnishings and accessories that perform multiple tasks.