By Innocent Anguyo
A survey of many houses in urban centres, especially those owned by the middleclass and young people in the early stages of their careers, will reveal just how congested and untidy they are. Some of these houses have a foul smell, are damp, dark and congested.
Humongous cabinets, sofa sets, big TVs, woollen carpets, wide glass tables, outdated calendars and decorations are common features in many living rooms. You can find a double bed occupying two-thirds of a bedroom, which also has a lamp stamp, a closet, wardrobe, dressing mirror and TV.
It seems Ugandans love keeping every item acquired in their life, even if they do not use them. This makes their houses clogged with irrelevant items.
Keeping your items is not a problem, but how you store them is, says Jasper Kamukama, an interior designer and project manager at Nyumbani Décor, located in Kampala Industrial Area.
“Today, many young people live in urban areas. However, there is need for them to think creatively about making the most of the limited space, especially if they have a family,” Kamukama explains.
Below are tips on how one can make a small house feel bigger.
Use small furniture instead of overstuffed pieces
One way of making a house tidy and spacious, Kamukama says, is by using multi-purpose furniture. She says one can buy a convertible sofabed, which can be used as a couch during the day and turned into a bed for visitors and other members of the family at night, as opposed to buying a sofa set that can fill up the entire living room.
“A convertible sofa-bed is easy to use. During the day, you put cushions on the couch and replace them with pillows and other beddings at night,” Kamukama says. The couches come in different types, such as sleeper sofas, folding beds and transforming couches. They are hard to find upcountry, but are available in almost all big furniture stores in Kampala.
The dining, she says, should be a two-sitter, with a small table, if at all necessary. According to Kamukama, the living room could be used as a dining area, where people sit on the couch and hold their food, instead of sitting at a dinner table. As for the ironing board, she recommends the use of convertible steel tables, which can be folded and stashed away in the cabinets after use.
Being the heart of any house, the bedroom deserves more space to allow free roaming of the occupant. Kamukama says folding beds will do just perfect since they can be put away when not in use. Such beds can also be used to keep children tucked safely. Their side rails and anchor straps can position the bed rail firmly against the mattress.
For the kitchen, she advises using less furniture and more built-ins. “Free standing furniture takes up a lot of space. If your home is small, you can tuck in a built-in piece to give you more room.
For example, some kitchen cabinets are come fitted with fridges, microwaves, sinks, cupboards and cookers. With such a cabinet, everything would be in one place,” she says.
Use your rooms for more than one purpose
Making your rooms multi-purpose will not only make them look beautiful and tidy, but also unique. Banquettes (built-in benches with a table), Kamukama says, are a great way of saving on space in the living room and kitchen.
“Tables and chairs take up a lot of space, so if you can build a banquette, you can have and eat in the kitchen, even if the room is small.
“I have always thought that a dining room serving as a library not only looks charming, but is also practical. Shelves can be fitted in the dining room such that it serves as a reading room or home office,” she says.
The more items you have in your house, the more cramped it will look, Kamukama warns. “Look around your room. If you see less floor and more items, that means you have too much belongings. Consider giving the furniture away or selling it,” Kamukama says. Maximise on the wall and corners Find out the amount of wall space you have and how much room the furniture can project from the walls.
“Buy straight furniture, instead of curved ones, which takes up a lot of space,” Kamukama says. It is advisable to place cupboards, cabinets, closets, wardrobes, TVs and ironing boards in corners.
Meanwhile, art pieces should be hung on the wall to leave the floor free. Buy wooden and non-breakable pieces because even if one, knocks them while walking around the small house, they will keep intact.
Choose cabinets that are appropriate with the size of your rooms
Shopping for furniture can be a challenge if you do not know exactly what you are looking for. Large furniture pieces will eat up space and make your house seem small. “Choose two or three must-have pieces of furniture that scale appropriately to the room. The more functions you can condense, the larger your room will feel,” Kamukama advises.
Use storage space creatively
To keep your bedroom clutter-free, use decorative baskets in a bookshelf or wall unit to keep small items that do not need to be seen. “If your children leave toys around your room, stash them in storage bins under the bed,” Kamukama says..
Flat TV hung to wall
If you decide to have a TV, consider a flat screen, which can be mounted on the wall, Kamukama says, adding: “For those who choose not to
have a TV, a stereo can also take up considerable space, so, use an MP3 player,” she says.
To make the most out of a small house, consider ways to double a room’s usefulness! We do not always need more room, we just need to be cleverer with the space we have.