Houses can be a little bit like the Tardis from Doctor Who, but in reverse. They look roomy and big enough on the outside, but when you get inside, they’re cramped and dark and stuffed full. So full, you feel like you can’t move freely or sit where you want. (Notice I avoided talking about swinging cats, because, that’s just inconceivably nasty!)
You might be starting to feel a bit claustrophobic in your house, or your real estate agent has hinted (or told you straight out) that you need to do something to make it more appealing. You might be preparing for open homes or expecting guests and feel embarrassed.
Or you might just be going for the looks you see in magazines and on Pinterest. You’ll have noticed that they’re usually quite simple and uncluttered. They may look cosy and comfy but there’s not much stuff around. The owners have usually gone for stylish simplicity, the spaces look big, even if they’re not.
Here’s a bunch of ideas you can try, whether you’re selling or just making your home better for yourself and your family.
Declutter Your Surfaces.
The clutter of many small things can make a room look too full and dark, and it’s really hard to dust. Fewer small things in a room make it feel lighter and cleaner and make it so much easier to use the surfaces for their and your purposes.
Start easy – Start with your bathroom vanity then move on to empty all your window sills, including the laundry and the loo. Declutter your bedside tables, the tops of dressers and bookshelves, and your kitchen bench.
Just one or two of your all time favourite ornaments left out will keep it looking like your home, but will make it look so much simpler and more stylish. Plus it’s more fun to arrange pretty spaces around your home when there’s less overwhelming stuff.
De-clutter your walls.
Walls are surfaces too. Wide expanses of walls with occasional feature items make a room look more spacious.
Take down all your pictures and photos. Choose your favourites and decide if they were in the best spot, or if there’s a better place to hang them. Group smaller frames together. Hang a large mirror in small or dark spaces.
In kids bedrooms and family rooms install big cork boards to keep posters and kids art contained in one space and refresh them often.
Maximize Floor Space.
This is a real challenge for apartment dwellers, but it can create an illusion of spaciousness if the eye can see expanses of flooring. Remember when you first moved into your house? The rooms felt big and spacious, but slowly over the years they’ve started to feel cramped.
Minimise the amount of storage furniture you have in each room. Sometimes the walls of a room feel too close. The room feels small because the walls are lined with storage. This has the effect of making the walls feel much further into the room than they really are. This might mean some serious decluttering so you can get rid of some of the storage units.
Get rid of random small mats, change it to one large rug. Reduce the number of small furniture items like side tables, baskets, ottomans and poufs. Your home will still look cramped if there’s too many pieces of dark furniture, or they are too large for the space. You might like to think about changing to smaller pieces made of paler materials.
Get as much as possible up off the floor and onto the walls, including shelving, TV’s, bathroom cabinets and bedroom cupboards.
I know I just said to clear your walls, but this is after that. Having less stuff on your walls, plus necessary furniture up on your walls taking up less floor space is a look-bigger winner!
Use light colours.
If you have a compact home or small rooms, you might like to consider using light colours, they give the illusion of spaciousness and height.
You don’t have to go completely colourless, unless you are trying to sell your house. Then it’s usually advised to choose pale, soft, warm, neutral colours or whites. Have a look at the number of 1/8th tints and different whites available in your favourite paint brand range – it’s astonishing!
Add touches of colour or contrast with smaller items, decorations and soft furnishings (or leave it to the stagers.)
Less open shelving.
A small place can look cramped if there are too many things catching the eye. Open storage works well if everything you own is in a similar colour or tones, or your belongings are few and simple.
Abundant, eclectic collections of anything can be a great pleasure but if your goal is to make your small space look bigger try the following:
- Display just a few objects that bring you joy when you look at them, or co-ordinate with your decor. Change them as often as you like and re-arrange.
- Bring out your vintage or stylish kitchen equipment, pieces of china you adore and tuck away the cereal boxes or decant into matching containers.
- Store items you don’t use often in cupboards or drawers. If you don’t have enough room… see below.
- Give away items that you no longer use. (Yes more de-cluttering!)
- If you have a big personal collection, choose just a few of your favourite items to have out and pack the rest away.
- Every now and then change the items you have on show, it will feel like you’ve been shopping!
- Bookshelves need lightening up, remove all piles of random things and all but a few ornaments, and tidy your books. You can have some fun, alternating stacks or organising by colour. If you have an overflow, weed out the volumes you no longer love and give them away.
- Scan your house for every open shelf, not just the kitchen, you’ll be surprised how much stuff we cram into convenient spaces.
Styling The Aspirational Garage.
The last thing you want to do every day (or want open home viewers to have to do), is squeeze between muddy bikes and collapsing cardboard boxes, tripping on old boogie boards and the cord of the weed whacker on your way to the car. If the car even fits.
First, yes you guessed it… De-Clutter!
You probably don’t need that length of old hose that leaks, or the broken outdoor chairs that you were going to fix the year before last. Donate the good stuff and take the junk to the tip or pitch in with neighbours and get a skip. There are also junk removal companies who will come to your home and take it all away.
Then when you only have the useful, practical and loved things left over, it’s time to work out storage and clear the floor.
A fast and effective way of making this area look as spacious as possible is to install shelving and tool racks or holders. Get as much as you can up off the floor.
You can choose from handy-person built wooden shelves, metal freestanding units (check out The Warehouse, Bunnings & Mitre 10), or professionally installed workshop storage systems.
Match shelf dimensions with plastic storage boxes, either clear boxes so you can see what’s inside or get that label maker out! Matching boxes look best, but you can also use colour to indicate purpose. Use a label maker anyway – they’re fun.
Put like with like in those lovely new storage boxes:
- Power cords, spare light bulbs and fuses.
- Hose parts and watering system gadgets.
- Car cleaning equipment.
- You get the idea.
Install sturdy holders and hooks to get bikes and garden tools off the ground, keep cords and hoses loosely looped and tidy.
If you have the wall space a pegboard with tool holders will always look impressive and is very practical.
Light, bright and airy is good for your mood and your energy. Pull your curtains right back so you have maximum light in your home. Make your home feel and look better, just for you.
The Tidy Lady ~ Declutter Coach & Tidyness Expert.