decorating a listed building in Essex

How to maximise living space in small houses, on a budget

Either the UK is shrinking, or families are growing much larger (I doubt it) or maybe houses in the UK are getting smaller? Do we need more space to live our lives and be happy and content?

If your average household income won’t stretch to an extension, how on earth can we create more room in our house or apartment, but for less money?

Here is how to make your small house larger, without the use of magic

It’s a bit of a paradox really isn’t it?

Not everyone dreams of chocolate box homes like the one in the photo* but nevertheless, we all need a bit of space if we are to live our lives happily, and co exist with other family members or flatmates etc, so how do we do it?

Rear of house in Hertfordshire with a brand new exterior wall coating

You do not have to carry out a complete home makeover, nor do you have to pretend that you are some interior designer, these tips just take a bit of effort on your part, but the results will be dramatic!

The first thing you need to do though is to appraise what you are living in just now.

What I mean by that is to take a good look around the house, maybe even with a bit of paper and a pen, and just take some simple notes about your first impressions on where you are with the place now, and then stick the list on a fridge or something so it is easy to refer to.

Tip one: Make a plan and stick to it!

If you make a simple plan, the rest will be that much easier.

I say that because it is well known that if you have, for example, a cluttered home, then a good chance your mind will be all of a muddle too, and you may not actually be thinking as clearly as perhaps you could, so map out what you are going to do, and here’s a few tips to get you started.

list of things to do
A list makes things much clearer

So with your plan mapped out and written down, you know what you have got to do, so let’s get and do it then shall we?

Tip two: Start by cleaning up and de-cluttering.

I know we are talking about increasing the size of your home, or at least making more space, so why am I saying to clear up and clean up?

Take a look around.

If there are things on the floor, like a stack of magazines that you KNOW you are not going to read ever again, why are they there? Can you not bear to chuck anything out and are you a secret hoarder?


Things like this take up valuable space in your house so why live around stuff that really is not needed? Once you throw them away you will see you now have more room where the magazines are.

Rinse and repeat as the saying goes!

Go around all rooms in your home and get rid of things that you really do not need and are never going to need. 

I live with someone who is a self confessed hoarder and believe me it can cause friction, so if your other half will not allow you to chuck it out then you need to find STORAGE.

Put stuff into boxes and stick it in the loft, the garage or find unused space in the home such as the back of a closet or under the beds.

This also includes old clothes, and you can do your bit for your local community and take them down to your local charity shop, but make sure they are clean first.

Tip three: Light and more light.

One of the key ways to make a small home look much bigger is to paint the walls in a lighter colour, especially in enclosed areas like hallways, toilets and box rooms.

Some of the best colour combinations that can be used are colours such as icy blues and creamy shades which are great for making a small room look bigger to the eye.

small house

This also has an effect on the light coming into the room, making it look and feel bigger still.

If it is something other than a bedroom, for example a study, look to changing the door for one with frosted glass in.

Tip four: Get your daily mirror.

A mirror can, if correctly placed, make a room look MUCH bigger, and this is something people have used for many years.

Of course it is a trick of the light, but I assure you, this works, ask any estate agent, interior designer or realtor.

You do not have to necessarily be a particularly vain or shallow person to enjoy having mirrors around the house, especially if it makes the place look bigger!

A mirror on a wall
This image is (C)

They of course need to be firmly affixed to the wall by someone who knows what they are doing as the last thing you want is for a heavy mirror to fall off the wall, and especially fall onto someone.

It doesn’t bear thinking about, along with the risk of you getting 7 years bad luck into the bargain!

Mirrors are often found in hallways too, and that is for a couple of reasons, one being of course hallways are often dark and windowless so it will reflect the light better.

Plus there is a tradition handed down from Victorian “polite” society that your mirror was near your front door and you checked your appearance before exiting the house!

Tip Five: Re-arrange the furniture.

You may be surprised how something as utterly simple and obvious as moving furniture around can make your house look a heck of a lot bigger!

There may be items of furniture that you simply don’t need or use any more, like an old desk or a bed, so why are they still there?

Once again, various charity shops also deal in furniture and provided it is at least in fairly good condition, they will arrange to collect it for free!

Create more room in the house
Move the furniture around to create more space

If you have a dining room table in the middle of a fairly small room, and only you the wife ever use it, why not move it up against the wall and only bring it back out when guests come to eat?

If your lounge has a sofa set away from the wall, that’s a heck of a lot of room behind the sofa not being used so move it back against the wall to create a much bigger looking room.

In smaller rooms use shelving to lift off stuff that would normally be on the floor, and look for alcoves in older houses, often under-used, and can be made into shelves themselves.

Whatever you do, and I hope this information does help you, and you do something about your home, to give you more room, more light, more space, in fact space to think (!), for little or no money.

Let me know how you get on.

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