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A world-renowned design authority shows how to make the most of every square foot.
Whether motivated by soaring energy costs, smaller families or the desire to live more simply, homeowners are abandoning "McMansions" for smaller housing. In How to Live in Small Spaces, Terence Conran explains that what's paramount to livability is not square footage, but how the space is divided.
In this comprehensive, full color book, Conran tackles the many challenges posed by small spaces. Chapters cover storage, bedrooms, children's rooms, lighting, extension and much more. "Assessing your needs" checklists and "points to consider" sidebars add valuable ideas. The six case studies that conclude the book provide excellent examples of great designs.
The author offers practical advice on exploiting every inch of space through:
- Using fold-down and pull-out features
- Buying slimline appliances
- Installing indoor portholes and windows
- Lessening the impact of furniture
- Using scale and proportion to advantage
- Manipulating color, texture and pattern
- Using screens, partitions and platforms
- Improving circulation paths.
Terence Conran never forgets the challenges posed by small spaces or the ingenuity and compromises required. He shows how easy it is to create a home whose comfort is not dependent on size, but on efficiency and integrity.
|Publisher:||Firefly Books, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||9.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
Sir Terence Conran is the founder of the Conran Group, an architecture and design firm that also operates 28 restaurants and shops in the United States, Europe and Japan. His books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. His first book, The House Book (1974), radically changed how we view our home environment.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Making the Most of Small Spaces DESIGN AND PLANNING Living in small spaces
- Levels of change
- Looking for potential
- How to get rid of things
- Planning built-in storage
- Customizing built-in storage
- Architectural detail
- Minimizing architectural detail
- Fireplaces and stoves
- Screens and partitions
- Open-concept layouts
- Top lighting
- Simplifying routes
- Space-saving stairs
- Making use of circulation space
- Creating a decoration scheme
- Using color
- Space-enhancing color
- Textural contrast
- Bold statements
- Decorating practicalities
- Assessing your needs
- Types of lighting
- Lighting schemes for small spaces
- Choosing light fixtures
- Choosing light sources
- Natural light
- Fold-down furniture and equipment
- Space-saving beds
- Minimizing the impact of furniture
- Basic gear
- Planning permits and legalities
- Hiring professionals
- Managing the work sequence
- Permits and regulations
- Structural issues
- Extending downward
- Structural issues and building work
- Natural light
- Potential uses
- Assessing your needs
- Building work
- Style and character
- Working retreats
- Converting an existing shed
- Prefab solutions
- Converted outbuildings
- Basic strategies
- Designing the layout
- Home media solutions
- Concealed storage
- Dividers and partitions
- Surfaces and finishes
- Keep it simple
- Designing the layout
- Space-saving and space-enhancing ideas
- Eating areas
- Creating a tranquil retreat
- Sleeping platforms
- Sleeping pods
- Clothes storage
- Dressing areas
- Flexible storage
- Designing the layout
- Wet rooms
- Space-enhancing ideas
- Assessing your outdoor space
- Planning and layout
- Design principles
- Views, vistas and focal points
- Connecting home and garden
- Front yards
- Container gardening
- Roof gardens
- Choosing a location
- Expressing a sense of place
- 3773 studio project, Los Angeles: Home studio
- Live-work maisonette, London: Working from home
- Split-level apartment, Paris: White light
- One-bedroom apartment, New York: A place for everything
- Family house, London: Drawing down the light
- Engawa House, Tokyo: Bringing the outside in
Size, as they say, is not everything. If many of us are living in homes smaller than those in which we grew up, it is not necessarily because circumstances (economic ones, in particular) have forced us to. A recent statistic widely published in the British press reveals that half the households in two of London's more prosperous boroughs, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea, are single households, and presumably quite a substantial proportion of these are apartments. As has long been the case in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong, it seems clear that people are increasingly prepared to make the best of small space living for the sake of a good location. A desire to live near to one's place of work and to avoid long commutes plays a significant part in decisions about where to live.
It used to be the case that one's advance up the property ladder could be charted in terms of increasing floor area, as the student bachelor apartment roughly the size of a broom closet was exchanged for the unimaginable luxury of a one-bedroom apartment, which, in turn, eventually led to a family house with several bedrooms and a family-sized yard. This ever-expanding progression is not quite as inevitable today as it once was. The premium price that space commands, particularly in urban areas and densely populated parts of the globe, increasingly means that sooner or later many homeowners (and renters, too, for that matter) find themselves having to rethink their spatial requirements and "downsize" their expectations accordingly.
Probably the smallest home I have ever lived in was a single rented room measuring about 10 x 12 ft. (3 x 3.7 m) on the top floor of a house in Warwick Gardens actually, it was the first place I lived in when I came to London. As an ambitious young designer, I wasted no time putting my own stamp on my surroundings with bright color, Paolozzi prints and furniture I had designed and made out of welded metal and rope. In the room across from mine lived a woman named Olive Sullivan, who was at that time decorating editor of House and Garden magazine. Occasionally I would get a glimpse into her room, which, much to my amusement, was smothered in patterns largely featuring, as I recall, rosebuds. They were two very similar rooms in size, scale and proportion, but approached in two very different ways, to say the least. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that size need not inhibit personal expression: you can make a small place just as much your own as you can a larger one.
A similar point can be illustrated by Madrid's Hotel Puerta America, a "designer" hotel with a difference. Each of its 12 floors is the work of a different architect or designer those involved on the project included Norman Foster, Ron Arad, Marc Newson and Arata Isozaki. A stipulation of the brief was that the different architects and designers involved were asked not to talk to each other. Each of the 342 rooms has the same basic grid and parameters, but what eventually emerged were very different interpretations of what a hotel room should be.
Whether small space living has been forced upon you or is something you have chosen more positively, this book is for you. It is a "house book" in the fullest sense, in that it covers just about every aspect we could think of, from decorating and furnishing to design and detail, from spatial alterations to distributors and suppliers. Tailoring a small space to meet your needs, and meet them well, is not a question of superficial styling or purely decoration; it is a design job. Throughout, we have firmly stressed the practicalities of how to make a small space work better and feel larger: I always say that if you get the bones right the basics of structure, function and layout the rest is relatively easy. You may well require professional assistance to translate your ideas into reality, but you need the ideas in the first place, and I hope this book will provide you with more than a few.
Space is such a luxury these days, and widely perceived as such, that many people cannot help but feel cheated or hard done by if their homes are not as spacious as they would have liked. This is one of the first attitudes that you must overcome if you are going to enjoy small space living to its fullest. Small homes do entail some degree of compromise, but it is not all about sacrifice. There are many positive aspects to the situation, and it is well worth it to remind yourself of them.
Here is a brief list:
- Opting for a smaller home may enable you to live in a location that you might otherwise not be able to afford, closer to where you work, for example, or within walking or cycling distance of a city center.
- Smaller homes are cheaper to run, in just about every respect, but notably in terms of fuel bills, utilities and taxes.
- When it comes to choosing materials flooring, for example -you will be able to afford those of a better quality because the surface area that you will need to cover will be limited. The same applies to details such as switches and handles you will need fewer, so you can afford better.
- Small spaces, indoors and out, are easier to maintain. Clearing up or cleaning the house will no longer be a task that no sooner completed must be started all over again. The time you save on routine chores can be spent doing something you really enjoy.
- Small space living forces you to be selective in your purchases, and this is no bad thing at a time when choice can be overwhelming and many people own and acquire much more than they use or need.
- The tight planning that small spaces demand often makes everyday tasks easier to perform think of the economy of movement and control you gain by working in a small, well-planned kitchen.
You may well think of other advantages that you could add to the list. At any rate, it seems to me that the pros potentially outweigh the cons, and certainly provide compelling enough reasons to make the most of whatever space you have. Perhaps most persuasive, however, is the fact that living in a small space forces you to think laterally and creatively and not be bound by convention. Instead of allocating specific functions to separate rooms, you will inevitably need to consider the space as a whole, linking or grouping activities together without the conventional boundaries of walls, as well as building in as much as you can behind the scenes. At their best, small spaces can be both inclusive and flexible, which is perfectly in tune with the relaxed and informal way we want to live now and will no doubt continue to want to live in the future.