Space changing ideas - thinking outside the box
When faced with problematic interior spaces, sometimes you need to think outside the box room in order to come up with a solution.
Everyone is familiar with how wall colours affect the sense of space in a room, but few actually consider physically changing the shape of the space itself.
The way rooms used to be divided in older homes may have suited the times; but they may not be ideal for the way we live today. Homes built in the 1940s or 50s, for example, often had the toilet separated from the bathroom. This was a practical way of dividing space at the time, but today homeowners would by far prefer to knock down the partition and create a larger and airier bathroom.
Space constraints in new build properties mean that many homes have small and impractical spaces. Some people take drastic measures and start knocking down partitions. This may lose them a room, but the sense of space gained usually more than makes up for the loss of a small and pokey room.
If knocking down walls isn't an option, you can create the illusion of more space using a few tricks. If you have an out-of-proportion narrow room with a high ceiling, installing a false ceiling with recessed downlighters will help to balance the proportions of the room. By shortening the height of the room, it will instantly look wider.
You could also consider altering your home's space by changing the floor level. The ambience of a large dining room or living room can be made more intimate by raising the level of the floor. This also adds character to a room and is a perfect way to help define large open spaces into distinct areas. Do check that your ceiling is high enough though!
If you aren't brave enough to start altering ceilings and floors, or you own a period home that shouldn't be tampered with too much, there are more ways than one to change the illusion of a room's dimensions without altering the structure.
Straightforward square spaces can be visually lengthened by placing a pair of screens or open shelving units that mirror each other across the room. Other contemporary room dividers include fabric panels and glass bricks.
Don't forget about the oldest trick in the book if you want to detract from narrow or small spaces: cleverly placed mirrors. Early 19th century architect Sir John Soane used mirrors to expand the space in his eccentric London home, which is now a museum, and to make his vast collection of art treasures look even more impressive. He also used mirrors to create the illusion of window portholes.
Glass is also an increasingly popular material for interiors. Glass tables blend into the background and won't overcrowd a space-challenged room. Glass is even used for staircases that allow the natural light to flood into otherwise dark spaces to help maximise the illusion of space.
If you have a garden next to your room, visually bringing it indoors will help to fool the eye into seeing a larger space than there actually is.
Choose garden furniture that coordinates with your interior furniture and add indoor plants to your room to tie in both areas. You can increase this effect by using the same floor covering inside and outside if you choose weather-hardy sandstone, terracotta or slate tiles. Alternatively, stain outdoor decking to match wooden interior floors.