Paint the walls, trim and ceiling slightly different shades of the same colour and you'll find that the room's boundaries seem to disappear, creating an instant illusion of space. Start with the darkest shade on your walls, and finish with the lightest on the ceiling.
Small items aren't always best for tiny spaces. “A few larger pieces – a substantial dining table, a large mirror and a statement pendant – will make the space feel larger, rather than a lot of smaller pieces,” says interior stylist Amanda Smythe.
Use lighting tricks to visually expand a room. Direct beams upwards, as an illuminated ceiling will make a small room feel bigger than it is. Don't skimp on lamps but consider wall lights instead of table ones to save on valuable surface space.
Sliding and pocket doors (which tuck invisibly and neatly into the wall) are a small-space dream, as they don't need room to swing open. Barn doors are a bang-on-trend variation of this, with the added bonus of being an easy D.I.Y. retrofit project.
Tiny living areas – especially those that don't receive much natural light – will appear bigger and brighter when painted in warm, pale shades like primrose yellow or cream. Paint the interior window frame a crisp white to reflect as much light as possible.
Benchtops are important real estate in a small space. “Cut the clutter by installing wireware, waste bins and drawer dividers into kitchen cabinets,” says Lisa Mayski of Kaboodle Kitchen. “This way there's a space for everything.”
If you love greenery but are struggling for room, “Hang plants from the ceiling,” says interior stylist Lauren Keenan. “This makes use of an otherwise empty space and helps to purify the air at the same time.”
Find hideaway opportunities in unexpected places. “This might be a bed with drawers underneath (perfect for extra bedding or out-of-season clothes), or a banquette seat within the kitchen that lifts to reveal secret storage,” says Lauren. Shallow rolling containers are an easy hack, sliding neatly away under beds or cupboards.
Think vertically when planting up your garden, with wall baskets or green wall systems, which often come with built-in irrigation for set-and-forget care. Creeping plants, such as jasmine or white potato vine, provide maximum greenery in a minimal footprint and can also make wonderful privacy screening.
Planting for height gives a small garden a layered look and seems to expand it visually by drawing the eye upwards. Opt for columnar shapes over spreading boughs, like a pencil pine or the tall and slender ‘Ballerina' apple tree range. You could also try espaliering fruit trees along a boundary wall.
Choose furniture that sits off the ground on tall, thin legs. “Negative space helps to filter light and makes a room appear larger,” says interior designer Shilpa Mohan. Or wall-mount furniture so it doesn't touch the floor.
“A large rug works wonders at tricking your brain into thinking a space is wide,” says Shilpa Mohan. “Unlike a small one, it allows the floor to seem continuous. Ideally your rug should be large enough to sit completely under your furniture, otherwise the front legs of the sofa should sit over the rug.”
A strategically placed mirror will reflect and bounce light around the room, while leaning an oversized mirror against a wall can create the impression that the room is expanding and opening up at head height. For safety, secure to the wall with invisible fixings.
For a space-saving way to stash the clutter of paperwork and files, opt for a wall-mounted shelf system which you can customise to suit. Flexi Storage wall strip systems include shelves and drawers that can be put to this purpose. Ensure they're securely fixed to your walls. Pair with mobile baskets that can be wheeled in and out when needed.
The same flooring across as many rooms in your house as you can will create a seamless effect that helps each room flow into the next. If using timber or vinyl planks, choose wide planks over narrow, as fewer seams mean a less busy feel.
A custom-made or D.I.Y. bench in a bedroom, living or dining area can multi-task. “It can be a beautiful feature, with timber moulding, fabric and cushions, practical seating and under-bench storage,” says Amanda Smythe. Or pop a padded cushion on a sturdy trunk or storage box for extra seating.
Snug bathroom? The trick is to extend sight lines, so more flooring is exposed. “Opt for a wall-hung vanity,” says Bunnings bathroom buyer Dan Gibney. He also suggests a ‘wet room' or frameless shower screen to avoid the closed-in feeling that shower doors and frames can create in small areas.
“For the ultimate space-saving toilet, go for a concealed style,” says Luke Di Michiel from Caroma. “By hiding the cistern in the wall, ceiling or under-counter, only the pan remains visible, significantly reducing the footprint of the toilet.”
“The right flooring can do wonders for a small bathroom,” says interior stylist Louise Dammer. “Large neutral or white tiles will bounce light around the room, creating the illusion of space.”
Don't be afraid of mini tiles in small spaces. “Using a small tile en masse creates a visual illusion that the room is larger than it is,” says interior designer Abby Whiteley Greeff . “This is because there are no strong lines breaking up the space.”
Time to create you very own amazing spaces in your home. For all your product needs head into your local Bunnings store.
Photo credit: Flexi Storage and Lisa Cohen.