Living in a small home? Here are some ways you can make it big enough for all your needs

Designing small spaces to be multifunctional can give you everything you need. Picture: Max Rahubovskiy/Pexels

Designing small spaces to be multifunctional can give you everything you need. Picture: Max Rahubovskiy/Pexels

Published Oct 28, 2023


As more people choose to downsize their lives in smaller houses, townhouses, and apartments, it has become increasingly important to maximise every square metre of available space.

Spaces need to become multi-functional and there are clever ways to do this without making your home look cluttered or cramped.

The way in which people use their homes has changed since the pandemic, and the shift towards remote working has transformed the way that buyers search for properties.

What’s more, with interest rates being as high as they are, Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says buyers have smaller budgets but growing lists of must-have features for a home.

“This often means that every inch of available space needs to be working hard to maximise the overall functionality of the home, no matter how big or small the home might be.”

The best way to achieve this is to create multi-functional spaces that offer more bang for your buck. For example, he suggests that, if your home does not have the space to dedicate a whole room to a home office, then it could be worth incorporating a built-in desk option within a corner of the living room or one of the bedrooms.

“This advice is particularly important for sellers who can stage the property to help showcase the possibilities of the home.”

For homeowners or even sellers who are not sure how to create a multi-functional space, Goslett shares the following tips:

  • If your property has an enclosed living room, include a convertible sofa bed so that it can easily transform into a guest bedroom.
  • If your property does not have space for a dining room, you could add a kitchen island with a few bar chairs so that the space can double as an eating area.
  • Any room in the home can easily double as a work-from-home space simply by adding a fold-out wall desk – just remember to position this near a plug point.
  • Maximise your outdoor space by creating an indoor-outdoor living area. Simply add a roof structure and a way to enclose the sides. There are more affordable ways of achieving this, such as a wooden pergola and canvas sides, but there are also more luxurious ways like using louvered awnings and stackable doors.

Whether you are selling or simply looking for ways to improve the overall enjoyment of your home, these clever design solutions not only save space but also adapt to our evolving lifestyle needs, making homes more versatile and efficient.

“By combining the purposes of various rooms to serve multiple needs, homeowners can enhance the overall functionality of the home which can greatly impact the property’s resale value,” he says.

The key to creating multifunctional spaces is to think creatively and be open to innovative solutions. With a bit of ingenuity, even the smallest spaces can be transformed into functional and stylish areas, property experts and designers advise.

Here are some more smart ideas:

  • Think smart and versatile. Go for furniture pieces that pull double duty, like sofa beds, murphy beds, or ottomans with secret storage spots. They're not just cool, they're super practical, saving you tons of space.
  • Look for tables and desks that can fold down or extend when you need them. When you're done, just tuck them away neatly, and voila, maximum space unlocked.
  • Walls are your best friends. Put up shelves, cabinets, and hooks to clear up that precious floor space. Sliding doors are also fantastic space-savers. You can even use room dividers that double as bookshelves or storage units to create different zones in your room.
  • Don't forget the space underneath your stairs that could be perfect for turning into cupboards, bookshelves, or even a cosy reading nook.
  • When it comes to your kitchen, wall-mounted racks for your utensils, magnetic strips for knives, and hooks for your pots and pans will keep things organised and your space clutter-free.
  • To make your place look bigger and brighter, strategically placed mirrors work wonders, creating an illusion of space.
  • Get ottomans that double as storage, decorative boxes that moonlight as tables, or ladders that are perfect for hanging blankets. It's functional and stylish, all in one.
  • Lighting matters too. Use adjustable lights to highlight different areas, making your multi-functional space feel even more organised.
  • Don’t overlook your corners. Install corner shelves, desks, or cabinets to maximise every inch.
  • If you have outside space, treat it like an extra room. Use foldable furniture and outdoor rugs to create a comfy outdoor living area.

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