More people, less space
As I made my way home from work last week squashed and uncomfortable on the tube, I stumbled across a news article that perfectly reflected my current plight. This article explored how regardless of over-crowding and increased living costs, people will still choose the option of small and confirmed living spaces, just so that they can afford to live within a city!
The article proposed that cities such as London offer a magnitude of choices for fulfilling an ever-increasing variety of tastes. Through such channels cities continually attract new inhabitants. This in turn means more overcrowding, fewer homes, reduced living space, and further certainty of being squashed on the tube! London in particular is a magnet for migration; it has a population now fast approaching the eight & a quarter million mark! In 2010 the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, introduced ‘minimum space standards’ for homes’. This stipulated that all newly built homes must meet standards set for providing sufficient space for habitation. However, it is questionable whether this is having much of an effect. The Royal Institute of British Architecture’s (RIBA) 2011 ‘Case for Space’ report researched London living space standards and found that homes are still continuing to decrease in size:
‘The floor area of the average new three bedroom home is only 92% of the recommended minimum size’
RIBA: CASE FOR SPACE
Even without the underpinning facts, it is apparent and unfortunately true that the amount of living space available to us is decreasing. But should this really mean having to accept confined conditions within our own homes? Well my answer would be no. The reality is that any homeowner would certainly get more square feet for their money if buying outside of a city. However there is still plenty that can be done to optimise an existing space. For those looking to buy, sell or renovate their home then within a small kitchen alone there are numerous options available…you just have to know about them!
Small kitchen design ideas
Within the kitchen industry we too often encounter clients who feel frustrated over a an existing small kitchen. It is usually the end result of a poor and ill-thought out design.
Even for the narrowest of small kitchens, typically a galley kitchen or small ‘L-shaped’ kitchen, there is much room that can be done to maximise on space.
For example, a variety of sophisticated and effective kitchen storage solutions such as pull-out larders or carousel units offer very generous storage space. With a weight-bearing capacity of 20kg per shelf, these storage options create the perfect yet very accessible hideaway for day-to-day household items and clutter. Carousels increase the usability of small kitchen spaces and this is equally as useful as increasing the quantity of space within a compact kitchen.
Similarly the option for different height wall units allows kitchen space at upper levels to be used for further storage. This includes the possibility of extra tall units, with provision of a foldaway stool for access. In my own kitchen this space is taken up with unused Christmas crackers from last year. There is also the impulse bought smoothie-maker purchased during a short-lived health kick (I lasted less than a week and used it twice!) Tall units might also finally provide a home for your hoover and long-handled mop; the ones that have been left out and annoying you for months but just won’t fit in any other cupboards! Alternatively, tall units can effectively house a range of compact kitchen appliances. This could be an integrated slim-line dishwasher or a compact microwave. Integrated ovens can feature ‘slide-away doors;’ These don’t open outwards and so avoid obstructing an already narrow or small kitchen. It is even possible to house both a dishwasher and oven within the same tall unit. Other options to maximise on space within a small kitchen include a reduced depth worktop or choosing a Handleless kitchen. Handleless kitchens look great and are extremely practical. You will never catch your jumper or snag your favourite dress as simply put, there’s nothing to snag it on!
Small kitchen colours
Did you also know that colour choice within your kitchen can impact on the visual perception of space? If kitchen walls are dark in colour then a light shade of furniture such as white or cream will help create the feel of a warmer and larger room. Conversely, if a small kitchen has white walls and dark furniture, then a brightly coloured glass splashback (or blind as per the image to the left) can offer a healthy injection of colour to accentuate the room. The finish of your kitchen is also important as a gloss kitchen reflects light to enhance a room, whilst a matt finish will absorb light which can enclose a space. The use of colour to make a room feel bigger is not limited to your kitchen but this principle extends to the rest of your home too. Furthermore the same applies for your choice of kitchen lighting!
Small kitchen lighting
Consider carefully the amount of light that is really required. Use this assertion as a basis for lighting choices; too many lights can give an impression of a smaller compact kitchen, and not enough lights can have the same effect. The size of the light fixtures must be neither too big nor too small and avoid blocking natural light from any windows. Under cabinet lighting is an option to effect the impression of a larger kitchen area simply by drawing the eye’s attention to areas of greater space.
Space saving for the future
There are numerous other options available within a small kitchen and rest of the home to help maximise any existing space. So if you want the bright lights and excitement of the city but not at the expense of a spacious and comfortable home then remember it doesn’t have to be one choice at the expense of the other! Even if your home is not spacious in real terms there is plenty that you can do to effectively save space and reduce clutter. In doing so you can create a perception of a bigger kitchen as well as all other rooms within your home. A comfortable living space is not only more inviting but by introducing changes to make it so you may also increase the value of your home. This a point well worth remembering should you ever tire of the hustle and bustle of city!