Guide and Tips on Small Space Layout

Here’re some tips on small space layout. A layout basically involves defining areas and connecting them. From experience, imagination is essential to maximizing the space within the existing constraints.

First, consider the few elements which are fixed. The location of the entry or exit, for instance, will probably have to be placed once and then not moved (though provision can be made for later expansion). Then, you may need to consider how you’d like to separate the living functions to give privacy and focus where needed. One point to note is not to cut up the space such that you end up with cubicles.

Also, drawing balloon diagrams to indicate the space division helps the definition better. In the cast of renovations, knowing the existing, unmovable features (entrances, windows etc) should be indicated first. Note also that the direction of the sunlight is also important in the space planning.

Double Duty

In many cases, a small space layout will need to do double duty – living and dining, sleeping and work, living and sleeping or even putting all together. In the latter, consider having the space divided into the respective activities and then opened up for special occasions. This may mean having the bed totally concealed and taken out only when it is to be used. Another tip is to use a flexible layout or ‘soft’ division of space through a change in floor level.
If you've got a low window ledge, you may consider extending it to turn it into a bed or a study table, provided it doesn't restrict access to the window.

Dividing the Space

Space division for small rooms can be done with ambient light – shadows for privacy and brightness for community, or vice versa, depending on taste. This explains why it’s important to indicate the direction of the sunlight when planning the layout for small spaces. Similarly, simple changes in texture or color can differentiate between and give character to different zones in the house. A hard white tile floor in an area used for cooking might give way to warm parquet in the dining area, for instance. This separates the space without dividing them. Similarly, jute wall covering in the sleeping area might segue into pastel-colored plaster for an area where the guest might be entertained. Public and private zones might be cued by floor and wall surfaces such as metal vs wood.

Using partial partitions, extending from the floor to waist or chest, can provide an ample sense of separation without losing the sense of openness.

Low partitions can be in the form of storage elements or furniture, and can be combined with matching or contrasting closures for the upper part.

Alternatively, all can be movable and/or removable. I’ve seen instances where a tent was setup in a loft-like area for snuggling in.

Space Reconfiguration

Sometimes, reconfiguring a small space layout can yield surprising result. For example, convert a bedroom into a bathroom, complete with jacuzzi tub, shower enclosure, double sinks and walk-in wardrobe. If you don't want to sacrifice a room, reconfigure the internal space by replacing a separate tub and shower area with one that serves both purposes. You can move the vanity counter outside too.

Ceiling Extension

If the ceiling is not particularly high, avoid using false ceiling for an entire space since it'll emphasise the lack of height, especially in small areas. Instead, use partial false ceilings coupled with cove lighting to give an impression of greater height.

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