Feeling a tad claustrophobic at home? Try some handy hacks
for freeing up space, says Sam Wylie-Harris.
Feeling the squeeze with all the family cooped up at home?
When you’re spending more time than ever holed up at home, it’s easy to
feel as though the walls are caving in a little – which means a few
space-gaining tweaks could be very welcome right now.
“We’ve all been thrown into a situation beyond any of our wildest dreams
and we’re having to act fast and calmly. As we enter this new way of
living for the time being, it’s important to remember that the home is
our sanctuary, always has been and always will be,” says Kelly Hoppen,
international interior designer (kellyhoppeninteriors.com).
“But now the entire family has to live together 24/7, so we need to look
at our spaces and make some changes that work for everyone.”
If two are you are having to get used to working from home, you might
have created a specific ‘office area’, whether it’s an actual desk,
corner or even the kitchen table. But with homeschooling thrown into the
mix, as well as having to keep children entertained all under one roof,
the rule book has been thrown out the window.
“However big or small, spaces need to be kept as organised as possible.
Kids of all ages need to be in a routine and it’s essential to have
areas in which they can play together and have alone time,” suggests
Could it be possible to gain a bit more breathing space within your four
walls? You can’t magic up an extension of course, but here are some tips
that might help…
- Purge the playroom
Take a good look around (you may have to be a bit ruthless) and sort out
toys, books and have a general clear-out and tidy-up.
“What’s not used, give to charities (think local) as many families need
drastic help during this uncertain time. It’s important that kids aren’t
on their computers and watching TV all day. Get your kids to put
together mood boards on Pinterest of what they want their rooms to look
like, and then try and do it as best you can by borrowing and moving
things from room to room to make it exciting,” says Hoppen.
- Consider corners
While you’re busying yourself changing furniture around and
decluttering, think about merging and stacking things into corners, to
make the space feel freer overall.
Every room has at least three corners and if you go from floor to
ceiling, there’s the potential for shelving and corner units (a
game-changer for storing stemware and chinaware, or keeping books, DVDs
and ‘life admin’ boxes tidy and out the way), or use the space to stack
chairs, or position a floor lamp or corner table.
- Think inside the box
Of course, having to spend so much time at home also means making sure
everything around you has a home.
“A lack of storage can make your home feel more cramped and often
smaller,” says Bethan Harwood, partner and home design stylist at John
Lewis. “An easy way to add more storage is by investing in solution led
furniture with built in ‘secret’ storage, such as lidded ottomans and
“They provide closed off storage so they can be filled with everyday
items, and also double up as extra seating. These items are simple but
functional and it’s surprising how much you can fit inside them.”
Stylish, well-chosen pieces – such as a Made Essentials Macy Table Tray
Pouffe, in Marl Grey & Aqua, £69, from Made.com, is a clever two-in one
with a removable tray, so it can be used as a coffee table or to sit on.
- Steal some space with extending furniture
Budget allowing, furniture that folds or extends means you can all sit
together when you want to, but with the option to downsize when not in
“An extending table is always a favourite, but it doesn’t need to be in
the context of a dinner party. An extending table can easily be used as
a home office space,” says Harwood. “They give you the option to
transform your dining area every morning into a much bigger area, so you
can effectively work from home. Opt for tables where the leaves are
stored within the mechanism for ease of everyday use.”
- Make clever use of walls
We may be climbing the walls at moments – but our four walls offer a
wealth of opportunity for maximising and enhancing space, and can easily
be adapted to suit your style and taste.
“If you feel like you’ve run out of floor space to work with, turn your
attention to the walls,” says Harwood.
“Floating bookcases are a great way to add storage to the room without a
bulky piece of furniture. Adding shelves to a home office or playroom
can really maximise the space and you can also have fun with the way you
style them,” she adds. “Try colour coding the shelves, adding hanging
plants and turning books to lie flat as a more interesting way to
- Make the most of mirrors
And if you’ve still got a large gap gracing the wall, and want to stream
the most from these lighter, longer days, Hoppen suggests one of the
most effective ways to create space in the home is to play with mirrors.
“The perfect tool for spatial illusion in every room! Place mirrors
strategically, ideally opposite to a source or natural or artificial
light,” she says, “so as to create reflections and offer the room an
airy, bright atmosphere.”