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Design hacks for urban homes under 1000 sq ft

Design experts share their views on redesigning compact urban residences while staying on a budget.

July 31, 2021 / 08:41 PM IST
Use a neutral colour for the structural shell and then introduce pops of colours through rugs and paintings, etc. Books and indoor plants are some affordable styling object options that make a home feel lived in and welcoming. (Photo: Datum House - SML Architects © Yadnyesh Joshi)

Use a neutral colour for the structural shell and then introduce pops of colours through rugs and paintings, etc. Books and indoor plants are some affordable styling object options that make a home feel lived in and welcoming. (Photo: Datum House - SML Architects © Yadnyesh Joshi)

The past year has seen a seismic change in the way homeowners across the world envision and occupy their personal spaces. The Covid-19 pandemic has re-established the home as an ultimate oasis. As a result, we are much more aware of our spaces now.

For many of us, staying inside for prolonged periods has also excited the urge to change things up - especially in compact urban homes.

There is a perception that iteration in spaces in the realm of design are exorbitant affairs. Truth is that minimal yet significant changes within homes can be achieved cost-consciously, allowing residences, especially in cities, to feel new.

We spoke with interior designer Shivani Ajmera, co-founder, Quirk Studio – Mumbai, and architect Mahek Lalan, principal architect, SML Architects – Mumbai, on how end-users can elevate the designs of their compact urban dwellings with minimal yet meaningful changes.

The potential of colour

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You can refresh a space in a myriad ways by using colour. Done right, this is also a cost-effective option to spruce up a space.

“The trick with compact blueprints is to curate a minimal range of hues that seep into the space; this instills a sense of expansiveness, making colour a homogeneous binding element,” says Lalan.

Try this: Pick a neutral colour for the overall structural shell, and introduce colour in selective doses. Focal furniture, loose furnishings, art, rugs, and accent wall treatments can be used to incorporate colour with restraint.

“The simplest way to navigate this choice is by curating two-three key colours in a space wherein the base hue is neutral while the other colours in the palette are complementary in nature,” Ajmera adds.

Copyrights belong to photographer. No rights to any third party. (Photo: House No. 12 - Quirk Studio © Kunal Bhatia)

Materials and texture play

Creating an adept material palette can lend the spaces a cohesive and tactile look and feel. This also imbues a sensorial quality into your space.

“We find it fitting to often create a unifying colour story in a space and then layering the same with various material textures in that overruling colour family to create visual balance and interest," says Ajmera.

"We often gravitate towards concrete finishes, terracotta, natural stones, natural wood, and linens to create a welcome juxtaposition,” she adds.

“With every material employed, comfort and functionality in spaces should reign supreme. Cane, rattan, and natural wood in their untainted forms make for great options; they age gracefully, layer spaces with character, and truly bear the potential to be the protagonists in spaces,” says Lalan.

Layout and furniture curation

“The most effective way to go about the creation of a responsive floor plan in petit spaces is to be realistic with one’s functional expectations of the space. Scale is of the essence, furniture in a space needs to be ergonomic, purpose-driven, and suited to the end-user’s needs specifically concerning daily functions,” suggests Lalan.

Drawing up a layout of spaces within a home is an integral step towards ensuring that the limited space is responsively utilised to offer its end-users comfort and optimized function.

“A spatial layout is a concoction of thought-through circulation patterns in the compact blueprint and the balancing of the design vision; this is summoned forth through the convergence of pragmatic yet aesthetic components in the design scheme,” shares Ajmera.

Décor and Styling

God truly lies in the details! By collaging a vision for your space via the interventions of decorating and mindfully styling, one can weave together a palpable story that flows through a home.

“Make it simple yet impactful! Our go-to décor and stylings picks are an amalgamation of art prints, statement lighting fixtures, indoor greenery, and personalised curios that anchor certain sentimental value — less is truly more why styling,” says Ajmera.

“Styling needs to be an appendage to the overall design narrative, something the homeowners can layer and add to over time. Books and indoor plants are some top picks of affordable styling object options; they instill lifestyle-based influences in homes and have a tactile quality attached to them,” shares Lalan.

The styling process needs to be rooted in the overall design narrative of spaces. (Photo Credit: The Jardin Home_Quirk Studio © Kuber Shah) The styling process needs to be rooted in the overall design narrative of spaces.
(Photo Credit: The Jardin Home_Quirk Studio © Kuber Shah)

Let there be light

It becomes pivotal to capitalize on the available natural light in a space, especially in a time where populations spend increased time indoors.

“Commence by mapping the presence of natural light in a space, specifically the depth it travels in interior spaces. Encapsulating the presence of natural lighting in spaces can help create experiential vignettes within the home’s expanse. This can be imagined as window-seats, reading nooks, or spaces of recreation,” explains Lalan.

“Compact homes with outdoor spaces like balconies and sit-outs may be a rarity in most urban cities. Focus on creating bright indoor spaces that can be achieved through the employment of light hues across surfaces, creating activity zones around pre-existing window apertures, and even carrying the outside in by adding in greens in naturally-lit nooks, or even by dabbling in the inclusion of botanical-inspired elements like art, upholstery, etc.,” says Ajmera.

In light of the pandemic and its impact, residences have donned a newfound role of not merely being shelters, but also from where we live, work and function intrinsically. It is most often the sum of small-scale and budget-friendly changes that make a stirring impact in our indoor environments.
Lavanya Chopra is a Bengaluru-based architect and design writer.
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