Designing in small spaces

  • Creation Date: Friday, 14 June 2019

As an architect, I have been most intrigued lately by the innovations in furniture design as it relates to small spaces. With the price of building these days being out of the reach of many people, designing small spaces that can be reinvented to serve a number of functions with adaptable furniture makes it user friendly and more cost effective.

The very clever use of space in the whole “small house” culture is quite fascinating and there is so much innovation there that can be adapted to make the houses we design more interesting. One can rather design spaces where clever modular furniture can be used to change those spaces into multi functional areas with movable walls, folding beds, rotating wall units, hidden kitchens or bathrooms and piles more.

The concept of multi functionality is best illustrated in a small apartment in a city block or townhouse complex where space is limited. Being able to change the function of an area simply by adapting the furniture not only makes it interesting but it also provides the same “usability” of a much larger space.

In so many homes these days, provision is made for a guest or “spare” bedroom which stands unused for 90% of the time but which costs around R8000 or more per sqm to build. Innovation in furniture design however, allows one to change a room in a matter of minutes from a bedroom into a study or a library or a play room and back again.

The other issue of course is the amount of “clutter” we tend to accumulate over time and so building storage space into the design of furniture is quite necessary in many cases.

I am aware that there are not many joineries around with the ability to make some of the items shown on the video links, mainly because the specialized hardware involved is not generally available in South Africa. One of the items shown in some of the videos however, is the concept of the “Murphy Bed” which has taken off in SA and is available from a number of joineries around the country. Given sufficient demand and a bit of business forward thinking, I am sure that someone will start looking at producing more of these very innovative furniture designs and concepts.

I have posted links to a number of videos on this subject which I think you will find most interesting. (click here) Instead of adding a room onto your house to create more space, consider the use of multifunctional furniture and achieve the same result.

Article by Les Abbott