Expert advice for your home

If you want to be inspired ask an expert, right? That’s an approach we often take, especially when it comes to making the most of the space we live in. So flicking through a back issue of Red Magazine, we came across an inspiring article by Kate Watson-Smyth called Home Truths based on her new book Mad About The House. In it, she answers the design questions she’s most often asked, and we’ve selected our favourites for today’s blog:

Q: How do I make a small space look bigger?
A: Here, we are really talking about the art of illusion. When painting, a good approach is to pick one colour and use it on everything. White woodwork and ceilings in rooms with colourful walls, for example will only draw attention to the edges and the expanse (or otherwise) of the walls. Try to keep furniture away from the edges of the space, even if it’s only by a couple of centimetres. Look for sofas and chairs that have narrow arms – which means more sitting space – as well as those that have taller legs so you can see the floor underneath. The more floor you see, the bigger the room feels. A glass or metal coffee table will also allow light to flow through. Mirrors bounce light around and alter our perception of space and perspective to make rooms feel bigger. To elongate a wall, hang curtains near the ceiling rather than the top of the window. And try to leave something empty – a corner, some wall or a space under a shelf.

Q: How big should a rug be?
A: As big as you can afford. The legs of your sofa should always be on a rug. In an open-plan space, use a rug to zone a whole area (or multiple rugs for multiple areas) by making sure all the relevant pieces of furniture are on it.

Q: When it comes to furniture, when should I splurge and when should I save?
A: Generally speaking, it’s hard to advise on this, as one’s person dream piece will be another’s nightmare. That said, it’s always worth buying the best appliances you can afford. Invest in anything with moving parts (taps, handles and light switches) as well as pieces where you spend a lot of time such as beds and sofas. Occasional armchairs can be more statement than comfort, and occasional tables more trend than investment. It can help to think of things in terms of the cost-per-wear equation that we all use to justify buying an expensive piece of clothing; if you are going to use it every day, then it’s worth spending money on

Q: If I don’t have room for a home office, how do I set one up?
A: You will have to carve out a little spot from another part of your home to work at. If that needs to be the kitchen table, then that’s fine, but do find somewhere to neatly store paperwork, and a spot for the printer. I worked at the kitchen table for many years and kept a wheeled trolley with a lid under it for all the ‘office-y’ stuff that I needed on a daily basis. If you have the luxury of a spare bedroom, it’s all about making clever furniture choices – I’m astounded by people who don’t think of buying a sofa bed. it frees up so much space, and I think working in a room with a bed in it is an inherently bad idea. If you can only spare a corner of a room, see if you can fit in a room divider or decorative screen, so that you can hide everything from view in the evening

Futon Company says: Love it! Some fabulous space saving ideas from Kate. As futon experts we especially loved her ideas on the importance of sofa beds [and futons]! It’s a no brainer as far as we’re concerned!

Oke 3 Seater Sofa Bed

Haiku 2 Seater Birch Sofa Bed

Madrid Desk

Oak Folding Chair

Oak Long Mirror