In Paris last week, a dodgy landlord was ordered to pay € 1200 in damages to a tenant who lived in one of the smallest apartments ever seen in the city. Incredibly, the space was just 1.56m2. That’s the size of an average toilet.
This might be an extreme example, but the fact is that tiny homes are a fact of modern-day life. According to the Royal Institute of British Architects, the average one-bedroom home in this country is 46m2. In Holland, however, where one immediately thinks of tall, compact, canal-side houses, the average is 53% larger. While in Scandinavia, the Danes stretch out in 80% more space than us Brits.
The result is that the UK is fast developing a reputation as the home of cramped houses. Welcome to Box-Room Britain.
The big squeeze on people buying a home
The Government’s own research backs this up. In a recent survey, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment found that almost half of new homebuyers believed there wasn’t enough room in their house for furniture. Space for storage, kitchen appliances, recycling bins and room for children to play was also found to be seriously wanting.
How do the house builders respond to this? Rather predictably, I’m afraid. Steve Turner of the Home Builders Association says;
If you specify that rooms have got to be bigger, then you will drive the price up. In other words, like it or lump it.
So if you’re in the market for buying a new house, and you don’t have the wallet of a Russian oil baron or Premier League footballer, you’re likely to be stuck with making the most of a compact home. But there are ways of thinking big, even when buying small.
Here are half a dozen ways to create the illusion of a more spacious property
- De-clutter and recycle. Why struggle to find room for those leaning towers of books and CDs when you can have a digital library that fits in your pocket?
- Lighten up. If you use a different, lighter paint on the ceiling and above the picture rail, it creates the sensation of extra height and space.
- See more of the floor. The more of the floor on view, the bigger a room appears, so choose chairs with slender legs rather than solid, chunky bases.
- Choose versatile furniture. A fully made bed that you can pull down from a wardrobe will not only wow your guests, it will create a huge amount of extra floor space.
- Use your walls more. You can hang more than just pictures. Items like guitars and even a bike that takes up hall space can be artistically hung on your walls.
- Don’t be blind to blinds. Curtains can block off a lot of natural light, so switch to blinds that can be pulled up and out of the way. More light produces the feeling of more space.
Of course, the alternative is to embrace the Tiny House Movement that’s beginning to catch on in the UK, where people choose to live in deliberately minuscule homes. And as you can see from this selection of dazzlingly designed tiny houses, they’re anything but Parisian toilets!