It’s well within our African tradition to have many people in a tiny house at a time, be it nuclear or even extended family. And let’s face it, managing the little space available can be a challenge, especially if you are living in a rented space where you cannot make major adjustments. Aije Belton of Aije creations, an interior designer, takes us through some of the things to consider in order to maximise every space available including the walls and the ceiling.
Looking at an average of four people per single bedroom house, Aije says the bed sizes is a good place to start. The parents could have a 4x6ft bed with lower drawers to utilise that space underneath and the children a modern double decker bed that usually has steps for the secure accessibility of the children and yet double as drawers for storage.
Wardrobes in this case are made higher to the ceiling level and given more partitions hence increasing the storage units. Often, though, this becomes a challenge in terms of accessibility which makes the highest lockers unusable in most homes. To counter this Aije says one could get creative and customise ladders serve another functionality when not needed as ladders. They could be flower vase holders.
These can have a ceiling holder that is hanging from the ceiling in one corner of the room as you make use of the ceiling as well. Another option could be a long stool with steps on it in one corner of the room and also as a multipurpose tool, working as the placement for the items that are carried to work on a daily basis eg handbags, computer bags, school bags for the children or even light decoration ornaments. The point to note on these uppermost chambers of the wardrobe is that they should be storage for the items seldom used.
The mirror choice in this case matters, Aije says going for a wall mirror becomes the better option as it creates an impression of more space from the reflection without really taking much space and is very affordable. They are also very fashionable and double as accessories to enhance the look of the room. Instead of the traditional dressing mirrors, Aije says one could go for the modern floating dressing tables. According to him, they are not commonly used in the bedrooms yet but are a very good option to maximise the wall space and are affordable too.
Aije advises plain colours on the walls and darker shade of curtains and enough light that will leave few or no shadows, all these create an impression of enough space. Having a woolen carpet in such a small room, according to Aije is not advisable, instead a nice coloured centre rug may be the best option. For the walls, it is best there are very few photo frames and avoid clothes hanging around the room. Let them all be locked up somewhere in closet.
Cautions in the bedroom
In an attempt to create more space, some people pile things like dirty laundry, shoes, old boxes under the beds, Aije says the fewer the items under the bed, the easier the cleaning and hence better hygiene. Given the number of people in that small room it’s imperative that hygiene is observed at all costs. Therefore, the setup of the room must be in such a way that the window is not covered to allow natural light and air in.
Inside the kitchen should have a sense of attraction, it should have bright colours on the walls, Aije advises. The lower shelves create space for saucepans, blenders, toasters and other heavy utensils. It’s advisable that the drawers under the sink be used to store only non-electronics like charcoal stoves and probably the saucepans.
The floating shelves are commonly used in the kitchen both in the traditional ones and especially the more modern ones. This is where things like the non-fresh foodstuffs, spices and utensils are kept. Hooks can be added to hold items like frying pans, the chop boards and the like.
In the event there isn’t a fridge in the house, some of the floating drawer closets are usually left open, this space can be used for the fresh foods or Aije advises being creative for example one can get a moveable wooden board to make thorough cleaning possible, and place it in one corner on the floor and use that space for fresh food storage or even employ commonly used plastic racks.
Caution in the kitchen
Avoid keeping old boxes, broken plastics, and the like on top of the floating drawers. Always dispose of the things not in use anymore. Aije says it’s always good to buy foodstuffs that will be consumed before they get spoilt in the house. This way, apart from saving space, one ensures hygiene as well. Keeping the sink clean and empty also creates space in the kitchen.
Since the room is small, Aije advises to concentrate on the sofas, a centre table, a centre rug and wall hangings including the television set. For the extra utensils, flasks, serving dishes and the like that are occasionally used, a cupboard of a reasonable size, considering the issue of space maximisation, can be added in the sitting room somewhere.
Corner shelves would go a long way to both save space and also add to the beauty of the house, as it would be used for keeping books, photo frames and flowers depending on the shape and size a person prefers.
Instead of a dining table, one could opt for using the centre table to double as a dining table. According to Aije, it’s better to have as much space in the sitting room as possible. To create the space, Aije suggest having few items that a multipurpose .
Oftentimes even in such a house there is a stay-home househelp. The most viable thing to do is to have the sitting room as the sleeping place for them. In such a setup, woolen carpets are not a good choice. According to Aije, a movable centre rug is the best option. A good mattress is advisable so that during the day it can be properly placed on one of the decker beds in the bedroom very well made for any day naps needed. Sometimes people have very unpresentable mattresses spared for this cause and so can’t mix them with other things in the bedroom. This ends up causing a mess during the day because extra space has to be provided to cater for those extra beddings and even belongings which can be avoided.
Other situations could involve visitors for sleepovers. Thinking about them is paramount. There is a modern type of couch that is adjustable and can be made locally as well, making them affordable, that Aije recommends to be used as beds whenever necessary.
Generally, a simple bathroom can simply have a shower, toilet and a simple mirror usually above the sink and a properly covered laundry basket. Aije says the toothpaste, toothbrush and the like can be put in holders suspended above the sink.
Aije reveals how a client once blew his mind with an idea of creating an arm’s length space to store basins. A wide wooden shelf is floated on the wall above the shower to create an open drawer-like space between the wood and the ceiling where the basins are stored. The piece of wood is painted well to look exactly like the ceiling so it doesn’t look misplaced.
Aije says maximising space should not only be looked at as an option for convenience but a necessity for the good health of the members of the household.
Most people avoid trying to find space solutions all together with the assumption that it’s an expensive luxury that can be done away with. This is not necessarily true anymore, according to Aije, because there are very many options of commodities that can help maximise space on the market lately at various prices and it is achievable by all economic classes of people. Aije says it’s important for people to be intentional as they purchase household items of any kind so that it’s only things needed and being used in the house so as to not have space being wasted by unused stuff.