Simplify your space

9 ways to simplify your space

Make every room feel bigger and more harmonious with these practical design ideas

By Emily Brooks |

Most houses start life as fairly uniformed places, with everything neat and new, but over the years they can become disjointed. We tend to update on a room-by-room basis, so a fresh coat of paint, different flooring or a new suite of furniture can, over time, make everything look a little out of sync.

Add to this an increased storage burden as we gradually acquire more possessions, and the result can be a messy, disorganised home. As for how much or little you put on show, it’s often a matter of taste: one person’s thoughtful display of objects is another’s clutter.

Streamlined homes get the balance just right, resulting in relaxed spaces that feel larger, lighter and more co-ordinated.

1. Install a light-filled staircase

Revamping your stairs with glass balustrades and open treads creates a more transparent look – better sight lines between rooms will make your interior seem larger, as well as carrying light between floors.

Add a roof light at the top of the void for an even more dramatic light-well effect. This angular staircase is part of a London terraced house that was completely reconfigured by Thomas Griem of TG Studio.

White contemporary staircase with glass balustrades family photo with white frame

Photo: TG Studio

2. Add flexibility with a partition

Sliding doors are ideal for dividing modern, open-plan spaces at times when you need two distinct zones. Unlike a hinged model, once the door is open, it can go virtually unnoticed, tucked away inside a slim cavity.

In this home, the full-height doors, which are more like a sliding wall, were created with innovative products from Portman and Eclisse. The frames are top hung, allowing the floor material to be continuous between the rooms. This project was completed by Studio 29 Architects.

simplify your space. Beige hallway walls dining room with wooden stools doorway leading to garden

Photo: Studio 29

3. Create a clever storage wall

Martins Camisuli Architects designed this built-in storage system as part of an extension to a north London home. Made from painted MDF, it conceals a structural column and the TV, which hides behind the largest central sliding panel. On the far left, the section beneath the bookshelves drops outward to provide a writing/laptop desk.

White shelved storage wall voided white ceiling large yellow sofa double patio doors

Photo: Jake Fitzjones Photography LTD

4. Fit unified flooring

Having the same surface throughout all rooms is a straightforward way to create a coherent look. Certain materials such as stone, concrete and porcelain can even be continued outdoors. Granit Chartered Architects specified wood-effect porcelain tiles for this project – Woodtech 4 from Blueprint Ceramics.

simplify your space. open plan kitchen black kitchen island white kitchen cupboards black dining table three patio doors leading to small decked garden

Photo: Granit Architects and Interiors

5. Build a neat study area

Install a long, wide shelf instead of a freestanding desk in a home office; not only will it look more homely and less business-like, but the horizontal lines will also help draw the eye through the room, giving an illusion of space.

A generously sized corridor can be turned into a useful storage and working area with the addition of some bespoke joinery, as seen in this project, Sky House, by Coffey Architects.

wooden panelled hallway with desk area leading to open plan living room with yellow sofa and green front door

Photo: Coffey Architects

6. Get your wardrobe in order

If you have enough space in your bedroom, carve out a dressing area and install tailor-made storage to hold every last suit, jacket and shoe. In this narrow loft, designer Barbara Genda has installed oak furniture under the eaves and a double-height wardrobe with a space-saving pivoting door. Mirrored panels reflect light and give the illusion of more room.

simplify your space. walk in wardrobe with full height dark drawers folding wardrobe doors men's multicoloured shirts white walls and ceiling

Photo: Barbara Genda

7. Make a small bathroom feel bigger

Keep bathing areas simple with a limited palette of colours and materials: small spaces in particular can benefit from this approach. This serene example in a converted loft by Azman Architects combines plywood-clad walls and ceilings with white sanitaryware and tiles. A wallhung basin and WC give the room an uncluttered look, and the freed-up floor area makes it appear larger.

beige loft bathroom recessed led lighting small white tiled floor velux rooflight

Photo: Ben Blossom

8. Banish worktop clutter

Toasters, coffee makers, water filters and other cooking paraphernalia make for untidy surfaces. A recent trend in kitchen design is the use of large cupboards with a section of worktop inside: when you’ve finished breakfast, you can hide away all your appliances. When the doors are open they slide into pockets at either side to keep the look streamlined. This example is from Brayer Design.

simplify your space. Hidden kitchen cupboard black shelves microwave cast iron tea pot teabags pasta sauces toaster white roses in vase

Photo: Nick Smith

9. Turn a wasted space into storage

A specialist joinery company can create pull-out drawers under the stairs, which are a more effective use of space than a single, undivided cupboard. Install a coat rail in the highest unit and shoe-racks in the lowest. This 6-Drawer Unit grants discrete drawers, each with a capacity to hold up to 35kg. Customisable options include shoe rails, wine racks and more.

white stairs with six hidden drawers with books and wine bottles purses and shoes in rack wooden flooring black sideboard

Photo: Clever Closet