Hard working small spaces for those of us that demand more than one thing from our interiors.

Living in London, where square footage comes at a premium we’ve always needed to be creative with the small spaces that we’ve had in order to make the most out of it. Described to us by the estate agent as a ‘beiju two bedroom workers cottage’, lets just say that fitting all of life’s essentials into our home has left us at times scratching our heads as well as frantically scratching those scratch cards…stay away from late night Rightmove fantasy shopping guys, a million pounds will get you absolutely NOTHING in Notting Hill…apart from maybe a vintage suitcase if you fancy setting up camp in one of those?

Multifunctional small spaces.
This cosy spot under the stairs sits above some really useful storage and houses yet another single mattress that can be used when people come to stay.

“Cleverly thought out storage is essential to minimise clutter – making small spaces as usable and multi functional as possible.”

Now, I’ve spoken before of my love of storage and you can read about this in more detail in our full renovation story here. Having a space for everything to be put away so that you can keep your sanity as well as your floor space clear is an absolute must, so factor this into your design when you’re planning any make-over or renovation. But what else can you do to maximise the quality of life that you get from the space that you have, no matter how small it is?

Multifunctional small spaces.
Multi purpose furniture is a great place to start. This stool can and is often used as a side table and this industrial style bench can be taken out into the garden.


Lets start with multi functionality in small spaces. We have no spare bedroom but we have hidden beds where ever we can. With both myself and my husband being from “The North”, our family and friends do like to come down and stay over occasionally.

“Aim to make as many things as possible in your small spaces duel purpose, as this is a great way to maximise every single inch.”

As well as every sofa doubling as a sofa bed we’ve also had a single mattress made for the under-stairs storage nook that can be pulled out and used as a single bed when we need it. It can also be taken into the garden and used as a really comfy sun lounger or outdoor sofa in the summer. The seat pad at the back can be used as a back rest or as a base cushion on the retaining wall when we need more seating, but when it’s not in use we hang it behind our bed and use it as a squishy headboard.

Multifunctional small spaces.
Keeping all of your furniture lightweight and in keeping in style means that all pieces can be easily moved around your home. This ercol chair comes out into the garden, the living room when we have guests and the family room. Its even been in our bedroom…it gets about does this one! You can see our dining room bench in the background too along with the daybed cushion.
Multifunctional small spaces.
Here is the trusty seat pad being cunningly disguised as a head board.

In addition to that we stacked two mattresses into our sons camping bed so that one can be easily pulled out and used for sleepovers.

Multifunctional small spaces.
As we on’t have a spare room, we’ve hidden beds where ever we can, including a spare mattress in our son’s cabin bed that we made so that he can have friends over to stay.

Small Spaces Home Office

How we created a home office on top of our landing.

As both of us work for ourselves we needed to try and figure out a usable work space for our home as the dining room table just wasn’t cutting it anymore, and without a spare room to play with this proved quite the challenge. We had a space on the top of the landing that was going begging and in a house the size of ours that’s just quite literally a waste of well…space.

Multifunctional small spaces.
This spot at the top of the stairs had become a bit of a dumping ground until we made up our minds what we were going to do with it.

Whilst in the midst of re designing our bedroom we’d already decided to streamline the furniture in there. To create the illusion of space we plan on using floating tables and furniture on legs in order to draw the eye around the entire floor area creating a feeling of open space…but more about that in our bedroom blog post later on.

Multifunctional small spaces.
Bring on the declutter of miss-matched EVERYTHING! Here are the bedside tables that we used to make our desk.

Long story short, the bedside tables hadn’t made the cut and just as I was in the process of creating my eBay listing Ross asked “Why don’t we see if we can make them into a desk for the top of the landing?” Before he had even finished the sentence I had them pushed into each end of the space with some left over decking stacked on top as a desktop…okay it needed some tweaking but that was essentially it.

To maximise the space we’ve added some little cubby holes which are useful for slotting in your iPad or note book etc. The desk top is slim so we needed to keep it as clear as possible. Our space saver printer and Sonos fit nicely into the leg recess too. You could buy these bedside tables from Loaf if you’re looking for a similar pair.

Two bits of leftover decking and a couple of bits of fence post make the desk top.

Two bedside tables, some old bits of decking and voila…a bespoke, made to measure desk that literally anyone could put together with nothing more than a trusty hand saw and a screw driver if you don’t have fancy power tools. We haven’t even screwed the top on in case we want to re-use them as bedside tables again in the future.

Topped off with a healthy coat of Danish Oil to protect the table top and blend it in with the bedside tables.

We’ve hung our neon sign from the old studio and unbelievably the previously unused landing feels like a proper room and not just a thoroughfare for getting from A to B. A completely unplanned bonus is the cool white light from the sign that floods down the stairs creating the illusion of daylight. Oh I do love a happy ending 😉

Now if anyone knows how to get a good shot of a neon sign when it’s on, call me yeah?

Multifunctional small spaces.
Not bad for two old bedside tables, some leftover decking and a couple of fence posts.

We decided to keep the space above the desk clear of shelving so that it is free from clutter…again making the space feel bigger and more open, but if you have a lot of books to store you could suspend some shelving from the ceiling or use some old scaffolding boards which cost pennies and would be another great way of utilising spare wall space.

Multifunctional small spaces.
The chair and lamp were “Made” *cough* for this space and match our red cedar banister and nearly black door perfectly.

We scoured the internet for a small office chair that would slot away underneath the desk which was a little bit tricky let me tell you. In the end Made.com came up trumps with these beautiful oak and PU leather dining chairs. The perfect fit for our style and an even more perfect fit for the space. Phew.

The padded seat was non negotiable for us but if you’re willing to settle for a cushion pad on a hard back chair then this would open up lots more options. This chair is incredibly comfy though so if you are going to be seated for long periods of time I strongly recommend it as an alternative to the traditional office chairs that are all way to big for our small landing.

Beautifully Made (that one was an accident I swear) and comfortable to sit on. What more could you ask for?

To complete the look, we went for this slim, angle poised light, also from Made. It is super stylish and extremely flexible with it’s many position settings making it perfect for late night sketching, a craft table or even a sewing light.

This stylish oak UV lamp can be adjusted all the way up in its settings and tilts in any direction you like. Its so flexible and gives of a lovely warm glow. Perfect for those late night projects.

When considering furniture for small spaces don’t always go for the obvious. Console tables make great desks and dressing tables as they are shallower and designed for narrower spaces. A shelf can also make a great desk space or dressing table and an ottoman can slip straight underneath, out of the way when not in use. You can pick one with concealed storage inside and feel extra smug when your hair dryer isn’t on show.

So, that’s our mini home office make over in a Borrowers sized nutshell. I would love to hear any other ideas that you have for creating a workspace from home. Cupboards, alcoves and under-stairs spaces are all there for the taking so what are you waiting for?

I hope I’ve shown that with a little bit of creativity, small spaces can be just as useful and stylish as larger ones.

For more tips and advice on how to introduce biophilic design principles into your home or workspace, you can read Marianna’s new book ‘At Home with Nature‘.

At Home with Nature by Marianna Popejoy

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