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Blog | 15th June 2021

Decor: Doing the most with smaller spaces.

Decor: Doing the most with smaller spaces.


Decor: Doing the most with smaller spaces.

When looking at apartments for sale within your price range, you might come across the perfect investment opportunity in new developments that speak to you, while perhaps looking a little on the small side. Remember that there’s a lot that goes into your decision about a unit, and beyond the space within the apartment itself, there are the amenities that come with living in a development that can’t be beat: security, clubhouse, pool, gym, walking trails and so much more.

It’s discouraging to compare the living space with that of a free-standing home when you consider how much is available to you just outside your front door; gardens that you don’t have to physically look after, pools, recreational entertainment areas and so on. The pros of living in a Reeflords development are obvious, so we decided to see if we could help you tackle the challenge of interiors, so that the inside of your unit can be as comfortable to you as everything we put together on the outside.  

Getting the most out of smaller apartments and studios from an apartment decor and design perspective is what we’re covering in our latest Reeflords PodAcademy podcast. We chatted to Lucy, industry expert from Illuminate Home Staging, a five star design firm and interior marketing company based in Johannesburg. Click here to listen to episode 13, and for those of you who prefer to take it in via written format, we’ve put together this informative blog for you.

Sourcing Inspiration

When asked where our buyers might like to start, Lucy suggests beginning with your favourite visual inspiration Apps. “It’s always good to look online first, across Apps such as Pinterest or Houzz, and to search for small apartment designs from other places where decor is enthused for smaller apartments (such as Japan). You can pick up many ideas by seeing how other designers tackle these spaces, seeing how and where you can apply many of the same principles.”

Applying International Inspiration

When asked how easy it is to take the International inspiration found on these platforms and translate that for the local context, Lucy explains that planning your measurements according to your investment opportunity first — based on what is available that you like from local suppliers —  is your best bet for creating a comfortable, aesthetically- impressive layout.

“Many of the multi-functional, micro apartments abroad have flexible furniture and custom designed pieces which can be quite pricey to replicate here. There are companies that import or produce these pieces locally — like Murphy beds (that fold away into the wall) or coffee tables that become dining room tables.”

Using only these super specialised pieces of furniture isn’t mandatory to getting great use out of the space available. “As you can see from the Show Unit we did for The Aura, most of the furniture was bought direct from local retailers.”

Does size matter?

When it comes to furniture, we asked Lucy whether it was better to look for smaller pieces — so as to allow space between items — or whether it was better to fill the space with larger pieces that occupy the room.

“A beautiful result comes from having fewer furniture pieces that fill the end-to-end space, rather than lots of smaller pieces” says Lucy. “I’d rather have a larger couch that fills a full corner in a room and no side tables than lots of small pieces that break up the space visually — and also make it harder to clean under.”

Doing Decor for Singles versus Families

Are the design cues the same when designing the flow of decor for a single person living alone, compared to a family? “The principles do change when designing a small space for a family,” says Lucy.  “You want to have more open circulation space with room for movement. Storage also becomes very important in the family context.”

Lucy reminds people to be mindful of what possessions they’re choosing to keep versus what is really necessary so that overcrowding (or hoarding) doesn’t start to inhibit the living space. Lucy is a big fan of minimalism, and we can all understand the motivations behind that!

Go-to Success Pieces

We asked Lucy what some of her favourites are when it comes to the pieces she trusts when designing for small spaces.

“Hands down, my favourite items are storage bed bases and storage ottomans (that are part of a couch). These are terrifically valuable if you don’t have a linen closet — or if you have kids with lots of toys. A space can feel much larger because there is less on display and more stowed away in smart, homely storage units. Wall hooks are also useful and furniture pieces that have two or more purposes (like a storage ottoman that can be used to keep items in, sit on or put your feet up on).

“There is a peace that comes from less or seeing less of your possessions on display,” reminds Lucy.

Putting it in Practise

Lucy has just finished working with us at Reeflords on new developments at The Aura, and specifically the Studio show unit.  We asked her to share with us how she put her principles into practise there, applying multi-functionality to the decor pieces for that space.

“Further to what I’d mentioned about items that double-up, we used a coffee table that was an ottoman in the Studio show unit at The Aura. This means it can be used for additional seating rather than relying on the couch alone,” explains Lucy. “Furthermore, rather than occupying “dead space” with the plasma television on its own stand, we chose to place a desk at the wall with the tv on a wall mount.” Lucy’s choice meant that the desk can double up as a table at dinner time, while also serving as a work space during the day with full view of the TV (a common situation now with people working from home during Covid).

“We also included a wall mounted light that could be moved to provide task lighting in the lounge. Furthermore, we made use of small side tables, perfect for a cup of coffee or a few books when placed next to the bed for reading.”

One of Lucy’s favourite things about the options selected for this Show Unit is the four-poster bed, incorporated with a sheer piece of fabric draping. “It serves to help the bedroom feel like it’s in its own room and helps create the illusion of the room being much bigger,” explains Lucy. “You think to yourself: ‘Wow! A four-poster bed fits in here?! This must be huge.’”

Common Mistakes to Avoid

We asked Lucy what common mistakes people make when furnishing a unit with less space available, and she reminded us that it’s all about planning!

“Most people don’t really take the time to plan their interiors thoroughly, buying ad-hoc pieces that are seasonably fashionable,” says Lucy. “This means that the space becomes evermore crowded with an eclectic mix of woods and trends. This choice can help to make the home feel cosy, but when you are working in a studio space or small apartment, it is important to really plan ahead and select specific, functional pieces for the best end-result.”

Top Tips

In closing, we asked Lucy to share her top tips to remember when decorating a limited space.

“Keep the space feeling airy with white or light coloured walls,” she says. “Consider light-coloured or sheer curtains and consider incorporating oversized mirrors.”

Think home. Think Reeflords.

There’s a reason we push our payoff line so proudly. We’re committed to so much more than the home you buy, but knowledge about the processes of how you get started on your investment opportunity when you decide on the right property for sale for you, and lifestyle hacks beyond that, that keep you feeling as in love with your property for as long after you’ve moved in as possible. So we hope you’ve enjoyed a refreshingly different approach to the themes covered in this month’s PodAcademy podcast and here on our blog, exploring decor for smaller spaces with Lucy from Illuminate Home Staging.

Remember, Reeflords is here for you! If you have any questions related to this topic or anything within the realm of property (as a homeowner or investor), feel free to drop us an email on catherine@reeflords.co.za or post them to our Facebook page.

Think home. Think Reeflords. 


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