From micro-apartments in Paris and London to tiny houses in the countryside: the spaces we inhabit are getting smaller and smaller. Whether used as a way to cope with booming housing prices, throw off the shackles of materialism or decrease one’s ecological footprint: smaller living also means rethinking interior design. How can you make a small room feel bigger and more personal? Arno Geunes, owner of Tiny Houses Belgium, shares some big ideas for small living.
Tiny Houses Belgium, founded by Louis De Keyser, is a Flanders-based one-man company that designs and constructs mobile wooden cabins. As its current owner, Arno doesn’t just build houses himself: he’s also more than happy to assist others who are also brave enough to do it. In this way, he has acquired valuable experience in creating small spaces that are practical, uniquely personal and roomy, despite dimensional restrictions. Here are his tips.
1. Find beauty in efficiency
“To make a small space liveable, you have to really consider what you’ll need. Not just the big picture, but down to the nitty-gritty. Things like: ‘where will I place my dishes after I’ve washed them’ or ‘where will I place my spices for cooking’ need to be carefully thought through.”
“Optimising the space in such a way that it caters to your particular needs requires a lot of creativity. Often, it results in ingenious, one-of-a-kind solutions, such as single pieces of furniture that serve multiple purposes: a stair step that is also a table, a pulley bed that can be winched up into the ceiling… These solutions in themselves make your room unique and a joy to discover.
2. Let the light in
“If you have the luxury to renovate or install windows like those we incorporate in our tiny houses, opt for a few big windows instead of many small ones. Big windows are more efficient at letting in light and opening up a room. Adding mirrors is also a neat trick.”
3. Choose the right floor…
“Easily overlooked but crucial to the sense of space in your room is the floor. As a ‘fifth wall’, it needs to be highly practical, since all your activities will take place within one space. Therefore, it’s wise to opt for something that isn’t prone to scratches or stains, and easily maintainable, like vinyl or laminate.”
“As for colour and design, lighter, cooler tones tend to create a feeling of openness. Grains and knots should be subtle to keep the space from looking ‘busy’. And finally, the size of your flooring planks should be proportional to the size of your room. If they’re too narrow, your sense of space will narrow down as well, and if they’re too wide, it’ll feel sterile. The trick is to get the balance just right.”
4. … and install it the right way
“The way you install your floor affects the space as well. If your room is rectangular, the best approach is to place the planks parallel to the longest wall. This elongates the room and expands the space visually." Also make sure to check our tips about the perfect direction of your flooring boards.
5. Expose your floor
“If you’ve put effort in choosing and installing the right floor, you’ll probably want people to actually see it. And that’s a good thing: the more your floor is exposed, the roomier your space will seem. Take advantage of empty walls and install hanging shelves and cupboards.”
6. Make every piece of furniture count
“Finally, when picking furniture, opt for maximum functionality. Often, it’s better to choose fewer, bigger items if you want to create a grander feel. On the other hand: small pieces can improve traffic flow and are easier to move – like two small coffee tables. The key, again, is balance. Get it right, and your tiny room will feel like a spacious haven.”