Feeling the squeeze with all the family cooped up at home? When you’re spending more time than ever holed up at home, it’s easy to feel as though the walls are caving in a little – which means a few space-gaining tweaks could be very welcome right now.
"We’ve all been thrown into a situation beyond any of our wildest dreams and we’re having to act fast and calmly. As we enter this new way of living, for the time being, it’s important to remember that the home is our sanctuary, always has been and always will be," says Kelly Hoppen, an international interior designer.
"But now the entire family has to live together 24/7, so we need to look at our spaces and make some changes that work for everyone."
If two are you are having to get used to working from home, you might have created a specific ‘office area’, whether it’s an actual desk, corner or even the kitchen table. But with homeschooling thrown into the mix, as well as having to keep children entertained all under one roof, the rule book has been thrown out the window.
"However big or small, spaces need to be kept as organised as possible. Kids of all ages need to be in a routine and it’s essential to have areas in which they can play together and have alone time," suggests Hoppen.
Could it be possible to gain a bit more breathing space within your four walls? You can’t magic up an extension of course, but here are some tips that might help…
1. Purge the playroom
Take a good look around (you may have to be a bit ruthless) and sort out toys, books and have a general clear-out and tidy-up.
"What’s not used, give to local charities as many families need drastic help during this uncertain time. It’s important that kids aren’t on their computers and watching TV all day.
Get your kids to put together mood boards on Pinterest of what they want their rooms to look like, and then try and do it as best you can by borrowing and moving things from room to room to make it exciting," says Hoppen.
2. Consider corners
While you’re busying yourself changing furniture around and decluttering, think about merging and stacking things into corners, to make the space feel freer overall.
Every room has at least three corners and if you go from floor to ceiling, there’s the potential for shelving and corner units (a game-changer for storing stemware and chinaware, or keeping books, DVDs and ‘life admin’ boxes tidy and out the way), or use the space to stack chairs, or position a floor lamp or corner table.
3. Think inside the box
Of course, having to spend so much time at home also means making sure everything around you has a home.
"A lack of storage can make your home feel more cramped and often smaller," says Bethan Harwood, a home design stylist. "An easy way to add more storage is by investing in solution led furniture with built-in ‘secret’ storage, such as lidded ottomans and footstools.
"They provide closed off storage so they can be filled with everyday items, and also double up as extra seating. These items are simple but functional and it’s surprising how much you can fit inside them."
4. Steal some space with extending furniture
Budget allowing, furniture that folds or extends means you can all sit together when you want to, but with the option to downsize when not in use.
"An extending table is always a favourite, but it doesn’t need to be in the context of a dinner party. An extending table can easily be used as a home office space," says Harwood.
"They give you the option to transform your dining area every morning into a much bigger area, so you can effectively work from home. Opt for tables where the leaves are stored within the mechanism for ease of everyday use."
5. Make the most of mirrors
And if you've still got a large gap gracing the wall, and want to stream the most from these lighter, longer days, Hoppen suggests one of the most effective ways to create space in the home is to play with mirrors.
"The perfect tool for spatial illusion in every room! Place mirrors strategically, ideally opposite to a source or natural or artificial light," she says, "so as to create reflections and offer the room an airy, bright atmosphere."
6. Make clever use of walls
We may be climbing the walls at moments – but our four walls offer a wealth of opportunity for maximising and enhancing space, and can easily be adapted to suit your style and taste.
"If you feel like you’ve run out of floor space to work with, turn your attention to the walls," says Harwood.
"Floating bookcases are a great way to add storage to the room without a bulky piece of furniture. Adding shelves to a home office or playroom can really maximise the space and you can also have fun with the way you style them," she adds. "Try colour coding the shelves, adding hanging plants and turning books to lie flat as a more interesting way to display them."