6 ways to maximise small living spaces


It is a well-known fact that more than 80 percent of Singapore’s population reside in HDB flats. Unfortunately, what this means is that for most of us, homes like the lofty, sprawling ones idolised on Tumblr and Pinterest are but a dream. But big doesn’t always mean better. After all, it is not the size of the boat that matters, but the motion of the ocean. If you’re an HDB dweller fretting over your home decor, then this article is for you.


1) Your living room: Back to basics

ID: De Style

No one’s asking you to suddenly spend your fortune on Uggs or Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes. Autumn’s muted colours would be an excellent choice for your home. When your home is painted in light solid colours, it amplifies the area and creates a unified sense of space. Visually, muted colours create an undisrupted line of sight and an open look that’s pleasing to the eye. You probably can’t go wrong with pastels in this case.


Stanley Tan from De Style prefers simple designs paired with light colours, and plans to build more hidden storage space. In fact, he’d rather include a plain feature wall instead of a fanciful one. He says there should be lots of recess areas to maximise storage capacity, and try not to install false ceilings, but go for standing / hanging lamps instead.

Interior designer: De Style

2) Your study: Build up visually

ID: Summit Design Studio

When you have a small home, visual amplification is important. Since there’s a limited amount of floor space, why not build up? Install floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that will come in handy in storing everything from knick-knacks to your treasured books. Alternatively, consider hanging ornaments or displaying artwork, both of which should be above eye level, to draw attention to the
space above.


James Chew from Summit Design Studio recommends to “close off the area. Don’t display too many items, and don’t let messy items spill over into other spaces. Don’t have too much open shelving when installing floor-to-ceiling bookshelves because there ends up being a temptation to display even more items. It’s better to have one item to keep the clutter away from shelves.”

Interior designer: Summit Design Studio

3) Your kitchen: A draft in progress

ID: AC Vision

Keeping your kitchen neat and chic is a Photoshop work in progress. There needs to be layer upon layer of edits, which means that you should try to declutter and reorganise all those pots and pans every few weeks. One way to do this is to set aside a short period, say 15 minutes, on a fixed day each week to tackle the job.

To make your task easier, Alan Yap from AC Vision Design suggests more storage cabinets for the different kitchen utensils, and to build them up to the top. This prevents the collection of dust in awkward areas that you can’t reach, making cleaning a much easier job.

Interior designer: AC Vision Design

4) Your dining area: Less is more

Spacious Planners

Contrary to popular belief, smaller furniture might not be the best choice for small homes. When faced with smaller pieces, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of filling the space up with more of them. However, it would be best to stick to a few statement pieces that will accentuate your dining area. You could also consider a feature wall that’s simple yet gorgeous.

“If the space is small, customise the size of the bench and dining table with the pull-out extension to accommodate more guests. A mirror is also recommended to visually amplify the space,” says Vivi Law from Spacious Planners.

Interior designer: Spacious Planners

5) Your bedroom: Soak in those rays

EC vision

When you’re in a smaller space, natural lighting is a great tool for amplifying spaces. For HDB dwellers, natural light brightens up the room, allowing you to soak in some much-needed rays in the comfort of your own room. For a softer effect, consider some white gauzy curtains or blinds that retain your privacy, yet allow light to filter through.
“Bring in more natural light and use lighter toned colours in terms of the general decor. If a Scandinavian theme, mostly neutral tones for the blinds as well, such as light grey or light beige. Try not to have too much built-in furniture as well, to reduce clutter,” recommends Eric Toh from EC Vision.

Interior designer: EC Vision

6) Your toilet: Kill two birds with one stone

ID Gallery

When your home is on the smaller side, there’s literally no room to spare in a cramped space like the toilet. That’s when multi-purpose furniture comes in. Think cupboards with hidden storage and foldable shelves. Taobao, the land of cheap just-about-everything, is a good place to start looking.
“Colour schemes play a really important part in such small spaces, we would actually recommend mirrors as well on a small portion of the wall. Multi-purpose furniture, if used in the toilet, must be well-maintained due to the buildup of moisture,” says Rachel Chew from ID Gallery.

Interior designer: ID Gallery


Article and images contributed by HomeRenoGuru and Nippon Paint.

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