Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

24 Sep 2015

Apartment hacks and light ideas.

I thought I would write a post about ideas for small apartments, the use of light and space being more key in these spaces, so here's some ideas which you may find handy. 

Some time ago a client had an unused attic which was full of his old musical equipment, having decided that perhaps he would use this space again as a flat rather than a work storage area, myself and a friend set about clearing the space and making it habitable again. This was a difficult one though, firstly the flat was in the roof and it was seriously tiny, but nothing is impossible so we set about to use some interior designer tips of how to maximize the light, create the illusion of space, and get all the essentials into a kitchen the size of a postage stamp.

The flat had a decrepit kitchen from the 1970's and very oversized curtains on the windows, which restricted the light. We had to decide where in this two room attic a bed would go as there had never been one there before. We decided the lovliest space by far was under the VELUX window in a very low ceilinged part of the room.
So we moved the oversized curtains out and decided to show off the cute end window to its best advantage.

If someone was going to sleep here however, then the VELUX roof window needed a blackout blind so that they could have the option of whether to look at the stars, or complete darkness. This was also a good idea because in this flat it became extremely hot in the summer and the blackout would keep the room cool while it was closed.

We replaced the oversized curtain on the end wall with a simple piece of antique french lace panel, letting in the light but also suggesting some privacy. Underneath the lovely lace is a roller blind for night time.

We had never fitted a blind to a VELUX window before so here's what you need to know.  Firstly you have to find the serial number of the window, it should be written on it somewhere, hopefully it will be an authentic VELUX made window as this ensures you get a perfect fitting blind.   

Once you have this number go to https://www.roofblinds.co.uk/ where you will see a large selection for differing needs.  We chose a plain blackout blind, when you click on 'buy' you will then have the option in a drop down box where you put your serial number "select window type" and then a second box where you put the size.

This ensures that your blind will fit perfectly.  When it arrives it comes with instructions for you to fit it yourself. I would recommend doing it with someone, its a two man job in my opinion, but I'm not the expert in DIY, it is just handier to have two pairs of hands. 

To create the illusion of space we changed the all magnolia room to have two feature walls, one surrounding the end window in the bedroom nook, making that area look longer to the eye, and one on the long wall which runs the length of the flat. 

The colour is Cooking Apple Green by Farrow and Ball, a fresh but calm colour.

Another great way to bounce the light around a room is with mirrors, use them to reflect light around, not just as a way to look at your own reflection.  Doing the double mirror in a bathroom gives you a way to see the back of your head as well as bouncing the light back and forth.

Next comes the kitchen, this was a great IKEA hack, where we adapted an IKEA kitchen by painting the wooden cupboard doors with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and cutting closely the cupboard spaces. We wanted white cupboard doors but not melamine, so we bought a wooden door that was on sale and painted it Old White.  We chose a white fronted cooker and the option to put drawers under it rather than a facia.

For planning your own kitchen I really believe in IKEA, they have the largest range of solutions for fitting the essential appliances in a small space. Trying to fit in a cooker, washing machine, sink and hob all along one wall just over six foot long is about as challenging as it gets.  We hired a very clever carpenter and plumber who adapted a standard kitchen so we could maximise every square inch. We re-jigged some of the internal cupboard sides so that we could squeeze in a pull out rack shelf on the end. Luckily IKEA also made a two ring hob, although Im not sure if this is still available. This is a kitchen for one and as a normal four ring hob would have taken up all the work surface we decided a smaller one gave a better balance. Let's be honest, I rarely use all four hobs at once when cooking for myself so we thought two rings were sufficient.

extra storage made by fitting drawers under cooker and cupboards

If you are converting an attic then roof windows like VELUX are an essential, just be sure that you always use authentic VELUX blinds for efficiency. We could have fitted a few different types, the Energy blinds probably would have been a better option as they are designed to control the climate inside and also be a blackout to unwanted light at night. If the space is for a child then you might want something cheerful from the Disney range. We kept it simple and white because the apartment's owner had a lot of mis-matched furniture.

In the lounge area we found a folding table and painted the top in Old White so this would act as a reflector, dark wood just absorbed the light from the window and made the room dingy. A wooden slatted blind worked here to keep the room cool during the day as it was sealed an had no opening. The double glazing was also foggy so the venetian slats distracts from that while still letting the light inside.

Small can be perfectly formed, it just takes a few clever ideas. Look for ways to increase how the daylight enters the room, use subtle colours to create the illusion of space and keep it simple and uncluttered. Don't crowd windows with curtains and try to add some strategically placed mirrors, these tips should get you on the right track for your attic conversion. Itzala roof blinds have great discounts on their range right now so its a good time to revamp your loft conversion and maybe re-assess its use. With the increase in home B&B through AIR maybe you can earn some money from your attic.

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