As an architect, I’m obsessed with space and how to make best use of it. There is nothing worse, in architectural terms, than newly designed rooms in which the interior designer hasn’t taken advantage of all opportunities.
My first ever series for Channel 4 was called The Home Show – my role was to move in with someone, stay overnight and analyse every inch of their interior to understand why rooms did or didn’t work for that particular family’s needs. I’d then set about transforming the house, and I’ve compiled a few of the key techniques that you can employ in your own home.
Decluttering is an important part of making a room look larger; throw away any items that are rarely used. Avoid oversized furniture and instead opt for pieces that suit the scale of the space. Clever storage solutions are always a winner – I’ve managed to plan much-needed cabinets into walls, ceilings and even floor voids. In one project we fitted shoe storage into the treads and risers of a staircase.
Make the most of any undiscovered space above your original ceilings; if they are low then you could try to raise them. This is particularly effective in first-floor rooms where the ceiling can be raised up into the roof void, providing the opportunity to add a mezzanine level, sleeping deck or more accessible storage.
If you want to make a space look larger, then choose your paint carefully; avoid dark and oppressive colours as they absorb the light, while brighter shades reflect light and make an area feel bigger.
An abundance of natural light can make a big difference to the perception of space. Try to increase the size of external windows and, if you are able to, use glass doors between rooms to make them feel bigger. Another design trick is to position mirrors to reflect both light and a view. Add skylights where possible over dark internal spaces – I’m a big fan of installing glass over the landing of a staircase to allow sunshine into the heart of the home.