FFE Magazine

7 tips on how to arrange a small flat

Most of the available apartments in the cities of Europe are a lot smaller than the houses we are used to in the Philippines, whether we came from a nipa hut in the province or our grandparent’s old house. Just recently London has been on the headlines as having the smallest apartments in whole of Europe. I think most of us know that this phenomenon is not only seen in London, this is true in almost all European cities.


If you have to live in a smaller flat whether by choice or by necessity you would be confronted with the challenges of stashing in all your treasured belonging in your new smaller apartment. These challenges though are not unmanageable. There are solutions to all kinds of small spaces problems.


Here are a couple of pointers on how you can plan and design small spaces and successfully fit all your stuff :


1. Be mindful of the colours – Start with the colour you want to use on your wall and the colours of your furnitures. Some colours could make a room small and looked cramped. Even though some interior designers might be of the opinion that some dark shades can also make a room look larger, white is your best choice and the safest since it never fails to achieve the bigger room effect you want to have.



However, if you feel that white is not for you and it looks too dull or sterile, like hospital walls, the alternative would be to try other colours that look bright and that could add colour to your room without darkening it. You can try these colours:










Sea Green





These tones immediately give a spacious and airy effect. Use the same colour for your wall and ceiling and look for a matching carpet to give an impression of continuity. Same tone unifies the space and erases the boundaries, thus giving an illusion of a bigger room. Choose mono chromatic colour scheme. Neutral colours recede and give a bigger room and space for the furniture.


Contrasting colors tend to break up a space. Pieces of furniture are less interrupting and tend to blend with the space if they’re colored to match the wall color.


2. Painting strategies – If the room is narrow, paint horizontal stripes on it to make it look wider. Similarly, if the room has a low ceiling, you may paint vertical stripes on the walls to make it appear taller.


Another great way to deal with low ceilings or to even create the illusion of space is to have the wall paint colour extend to the ceiling. This method unifies to room to make it look larger than it actually is.



 3. Use mirrors – Some of us may not be so keen on the idea of having mirrors in our room, however they are very effective in giving depth and an illusion of more space. To counter your indifference to mirrors as part of your interior décor, look for an oversized mirror with a good frame and let it just stand on one side of the wall. You can also put a decorative lamp to dress it up or a simple light beside, on top or around it to further highlight the depth it creates. Check photos below for more ideas.

Decorative mirror

Ceiling to floor mirror

illuminated mirror

Mirror with a decorative lamp 


3. The art of lighting – We are talking here about artificial lighting. Choose your lights well. Study each angle and needs of each of your room. Without proper lighting the colours of your wall would be dark and dull. Remember that a dimly lit room affects your mood. Add more lamps, or install track lighting or recessed lighting. There are three kinds of artificial lights, general, which is used to illuminate the whole room; accent, for highlighting or accentuating a collection or a painting and lastly the task light, like lamps for reading. Balance your use of these three and try to achieve a harmony among them.


4. Bring in the Light – This time we are talking about real light. Use airy, see-through curtains. This might be difficult during winter when we need thick curtains to ward off the draft or the cold from outside. A solution to this is to have a double curtain. In the day time pull apart the thick dark curtains and let the light in, draw these thick drapes together when it gets cold in the evening. During summer or when the temperature is getting tolerable you can bring down the thick curtains and leave the sheer curtains. See how it gives a difference to these two rooms in the photos below.


 White and light colours, while letting the light in


5. Declutter – Nothing more makes a room look more cramped than stuff hanging around loosely on all corners. Look around you what are the things that you could give away and get rid of. It might sometimes be a painful process especially if you are the type that has sentimental attachments to everything you possess. If you really cannot part with them confine them on one shelf or corner. Or if you can  stash them all in a closed cabinet, where they would not be visible all the time. With things out of sight your room would exude a more relaxed and orderly ambience.


6. Use multipurpose furnitures – Multipurpose furnitures give you the advantage of saving space, and allowing you to use a simple furniture for several purposes. Seats with hidden storage or try this sofa cum book shelf from Materialicious.


A sofa, with drawers, a couch that doubles as a bookshlef and an ottoman* with hidden storage


7. Use large but few furnitures or decorations – It might sound ironical that you need to put big furnitures in a small room. The rational here is having few but large furniture gives your apartment a minimalist look, which is very vital in maximizing space in a small apartment. Furthermore, it makes the room look grander. Take the example of this artistic bookcase in our photo below.


Floor to ceiling bookcase makes the room look grander


Lastly, if you have the money hire Graham Hill and live in his ideas:



I hope you found some of our tips useful in decorating or redecorating your flat. Remember your house no matter how small is your refuge and respite from all the worries of the outside world. So, it should always make you feel like it is giving you a welcoming hug every time you go home.


 Your thoughts?


Were any of the tips helpful? Do you have any other ideas you want to share with us? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below!





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