Hong Kong is infamous for its tiny flats. The chances of having a room for yourself that’s bigger than Harry Potter’s broom closet are low, but that doesn’t mean your space has to be depressing. With a bit of creativity, you can make your tiny space feel bigger, brighter and more comfortable.
Jamie Turnough, director of Architectural Interiors, a Hong Kong-based investment property management and renovation business, gives us some tips on how to make a small space feel bigger and more homey.
Dark colours can make a small room feel even smaller.
“The key to making a space feel bigger is a neutral palate,” says Turnough. He advises to stick to light, neutral colours like white, while adding small accents of colour, using pillows or picture frames, to make things pop.
While you may be tempted to store things in a wardrobe or cabinet, Turnough says it actually makes your space feel smaller. Hidden storage is important, with the easiest and most popular way being underbed storage (a bed which has drawers underneath, or one that allows you to store things below the mattress).
Multifunctional furniture is also good to have, such as a footrest that opens up and doubles as a storage compartment for games, cables, or anything else that needs a home.
Make your space yours with photos of your family and friends, and liven them up with colourful frames.
You can also make a vision board, or wish board, with a corkboard and pictures from magazines, which can add some brightness and personality to your room, and also help you stay focused on your goals.
An accent rug can tie your room together and make the space seem more cosy (wouldn’t it be nice to step on a fluffy rug in the morning rather than cold, tiled floors?)
“Space planning is important,” says Turnough.
“How do you move and live through your zones?”
Even if you can only personalise one room, define a particular space for all purposes. For example, one area can be your reading and studying space; another can be where you watch Netflix on your laptop. Try to separate them in some small way, whether it’s with a room divider, bookshelf, or rug. This gives each space a clear purpose.
While natural light is always best, it’s not always possible with the way Hong Kong flats are built, and overhead lights can make a room feel smaller, especially fluorescent overhead lights, which give off a “classroom” kind of vibe.
“Instead, go with downlighting [which spreads the light more evenly over a larger area], spotlights, LED lights or directional light,” Turnough advises.
Let’s face it: many of use have more things than we actually need, whether it’s too many clothes, too many old childhood toys, or books we’ve never read and probably never will.
We’re sure you’ve heard of Japanese lifestyle guru and tidiness expert Marie Kondo and her philosophy on decluttering. You can follow her technique by examining each item in your room and deciding whether it sparks joy for you. If it doesn’t, away it goes! The idea is that you’ll be left with a space filled with things that bring you happiness.
For the stuff that you love and still need, though not at the moment (think: summer clothes in winter), Turnough advises you storing them in vacuum seal bags, which will take up much less storage space.
Small spaces don’t have to be uncomfortable! With a little effort, you can make your room a space you never want to leave.