Often clients come to me with a grand vision, but daunted by the realities imposed by their budget, space, or deadline. They hope to get everything they want, but understand that they may have to settle for less. The first thing I try to do is show them that there are more solutions than they might imagine.
One way to get the most out of your home is efficient use of space. Whether you have 60 or 350 square meters, your architect can help you figure out how to maximize every centimeter.
Technique One: Break the Box
Often, we conceptualize the space we have as rectangular with straight walls. This may be convenient for placing Ikea-bought bookshelves, but if you’re creative, changing the shape of the space you have can create more options. For example, a curved wall can be used to accommodate a rounded table on one side, while opening space for a closet in the adjacent room.
Technique Two: Use Specialty Staircases
If a full staircase would take too much space, consider some less conventional options. Spiral staircases, for example, use minimal floorspace. Another creative solution is alternating tread stairs: a staircase that’s split lengthwise with the treads realigned so each ascending stair is on an alternate side; this design saves half the floorspace. It doesn’t always meet building codes, so you won’t find it in public buildings, but alternating tread stairs are perfectly usable for your home – especially for access to an attic. Another great option is ladders: the fastest way to gain height without losing floorspace! Good architectural design takes the vertical dimension of your space into account.
Technique Three: Save Rooms; Embrace Nooks
Okay, so you need to do laundry; but do you really need to dedicate a space for it? Instead, consider building a laundry closet off the hall, with louvered doors to allow ventilation, a vent to the outside and sufficient space for your washer, dryer, and other laundry necessities. That way, your laundry nook is tucked out of the way and your guests will never know it’s there.
Technique Four: Place Rooms and Windows Strategically
Decide with your architect how to strategically place your rooms. Do you really need windows in your bathroom or laundry room? What if you moved the service rooms to the inner core of your house, ventilated them differently, and used the extra outer room for another bedroom, larger living room or a bay window for your kitchen? This will lend your home a more airy and spacious feel and give you better access to the exterior façade, where you will most enjoy the view.
Technique Five: Maximize Your Use of Kitchen Space
You want more counter space in your kitchen, but you also want a kitchen table. You want privacy in the kitchen, but not to feel cut off from what’s going on in the dining room. A bar island or peninsula can create counter-height working space; placing bar stools or chairs around it transform it into a breakfast or homework table. For more privacy, you can build a shelf high enough to cut the line of sight; for a more roomy, open feel, leave the counter top lower and let the space flow between the rooms. Not sure? No problem: install sliding doors or latticed windows that can be opened for more space and closed for more privacy.
Technique Six: Fill the Dead Corners
Corners in kitchens or bedrooms can go to waste as dead space, unreachable from either side. If that dead corner is accessible from an adjacent room, flip it around and install a closet facing the other way. If not, utilize specialty hardware like a “magic corner” to allow you to pull out shelving that’s tucked away around a 90-degree turn.
Technique Seven: Use Smart Furniture
If you have a small apartment and can’t fit enough rooms for all your needs, consider multiple-use furniture. You can install a desk and shelving unit that converts into a double bed without a need to remove anything from the shelves or unmake the bed. If you need an extra bunk bed but don’t have the room width, try a folding bunk bed with a removable collapsible ladder. Add a trundle bed that stores beneath the bottom bunk for a third bed. If you have a studio that needs a bed, a sofa, and a desk in the same space – it can be done! These solutions aren’t cheap, but they’re still cheaper than adding a room on your house – which isn’t always an option anyway.
Miles Hartog was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, with a short spell in the UK. He started his architecture degree in Sydney and completed it in Israel at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Miles has been working in the field of architecture in Israel and overseas since 1992. His 25 years of experience has provided Miles with an extremely broad palette for design and problem solving, which he now applies to every project–large or small.
Miles can be reached at 054-436-4492 or through his website www.mileshartog.com