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By Kevin Cain

Doing any kind of DIY or home improvement can either be a great boon to your property as an investment or a complete disaster needing costly corrections.The main thing to consider in any refurbishment is planning. Plan, plan and then re-plan, it can save you great expense and give a great look to your property.

However, if you live in a small apartment or studio the considerations of your planning are far different than if you were redesigning a large kitchen or bathroom. So how do you make the most of a small place?

Start by zoning and mapping out your space and design how you want your property to flow. Make the most use of corners etc for the large items of furniture such as beds, refrigerators, tables and sofas.It is a good idea to draw up a schematic or floor space of what you have to work with, then place scaled furniture or drawings of your selected furniture. This will give you a true representation of how your home will look.

The first step is to throw away absolutely everything you do not need and put the things you want to keep, but do not use regularly, in storage. Give what you can to charity, it is amazing what you can do without.

Make your storage places a feature of the room, for instance floating shelves look terrific over the bed but choose carefully what you display on them. Think of utilising vertical or stepladder shelving for books, arrange the books in blocks of colour this will bring an extra dynamic to a boring feature.

Look at any nooks or crannies and make full use of them, study's or computer desks under the stairs look chic and very useful. Make the most of your furniture for work spaces, sofas can often double up as offices. Drop down tables can often sort a desk problem and can easily be folded away once used.

The use of colour cannot be more exaggerated, use contrasting colours to mark out defined areas. You do not need screens or internal doors / walls to divide spaces, simply use colour. Contrasting flooring is also a good idea for the same effect or perhaps use both.

Use the space behind any shelving to bring a contrast of colour to the room, use wallpaper or contrasting paint. Make use of any height, take the shelving right up to the ceiling, cutting it off three quarters of the way up only brings more attention to the space you do not have. Perhaps use drapes or exotic fabrics to hide the shelving when you do not wish it displayed.

Forget the large sofa, perhaps go for a beanbag or loveseat instead. Wall hanging, flat-screen TV's save a lot of space. In the kitchen area opt for space saving appliances, look for compact counter-top appliances, a single bowl will give you more counter space.

If the space you are working with is too small then try to be more imaginative and perhaps try to fool your eyes. Light certainly helps, add windows or enlarge existing ones or perhaps add a skylight.

Replace doors that form barriers between rooms and replace with an open archway, in older properties revert to the original high ceilings.

Here are some tips of the trade to assist you in fooling your eyes:

  • Paint your space with bright colours, this will make the room appear larger. Paint old furniture the same colour and it will add to the overall enlarging effect.

  • Make the most of mirrors, consider mirrored panels on walls as well as standing or hanging mirrors, this will give the illusion of more space. Mirrors positioned opposite each other give a seemingly endless space.

  • Reconsider adding glass surfaces to furniture, using stainless steel appliances in kitchen or bathroom areas and generally using reflective surfaces.

  • If your ceilings are low then choose artwork with vertical lines and high them higher than eye level, plus also hang curtains and blinds as high as possible.

  • Look at your flooring and coverings, diagonal patterns will make the space look much wider.

  • Choose your furniture to reflect the space, choose sparingly and don't opt for large items.

Remember above all, that although your space is perhaps limited you still have to live there and it is your home. So do not design it like a dolls house or a show apartment, make the space work for every day purpose.Although selecting items of furniture to fit they also need to be comfortable, practicable and durable enough for daily use.

Think of hosting guests and visitors, do you have enough furniture to make them comfortable? Having a solitary chair in the corner may look bijou but is a fat load of use when dinner guests arrive.

So achieving the correct balance between daily use, functionality and chic design is the key. Use the walls, mirrors, windows, flooring and colours to bring space into your home.

Be creative with areas that you might not usually think of: for instance, behind doors, above radiators, above cabinets, beneath open sinks, around electrical wiring and pipes, behind a sofa, behind built-inns and many more nooks and crannies.

Size as they say is not everything, plan you space appropriately and fit for purpose. Then enjoy living in your home and adapt to a less cluttered lifestyle. Using the tips and ideas detailed in the article will amaze you with the transformation they can make.