Renovating or moving into a new home can bring a series of options, ideas, and a series of contemplations and decision making, all at once. Even the smallest decision like a light fixture or even a major decision like civil modifications can get overwhelming. But if one can keep a few standards in mind and apply them strategically, even a small area of a home can be designed to look spacious and feel comfortable.
One must always analyse the building's health. Once the civil modifications are catered to, the house will definitely last longer. For older houses, it is necessary to get the structural stability back by replastering and finishing the walls. Spatial planning is the next step. Site analysis should be done to get a clear idea of the orientation, light and ventilation. Getting a volumetric analysis for this. will determine the number and size of openings. Some openings can be enlarged, while others can be modified with lightweight and sustainable materials like aluminium and UPVC. Additionally, a bug mesh outside the windows allows the windows to be open all day, keeping the rooms well-ventilated.
Rearranging walls and strategically optimising the inside doors can increase floor space and make an evident difference to the house's flow. All the unnecessary walls can be replaced or broken down to make the rooms look bigger. Long term storage needs to be well-planned. A small walk-in closet in the corner of a bedroom helps free out an ample amount of space in the room. Keeping some extra storage and using existing furniture such as the bottoms of bookshelves and consoles saves space and keeps the house crisp and clean.
Planning for a designated space for wet areas and household activities will also save the house from unnecessary clutter. Simple pulley systems for drying clothes and provision for storage for housekeeping equipment can keep the wet zones of the house restricted to a space.
The decor theme for your interiors can also be a determining factor for optimising storage. A contemporary look involves the manipulation of additional elements like wall panelling, false ceiling for flushed light fixtures and clean yet bulky sofas. For smaller spaces with lower heights, a mid-century or a Scandinavian look goes well. To compensate for lighter furniture and decor elements, one can add and play around with textures and fabrics. Colour can also play a vital role in determining the visuals of the space. Walls can be muted and light-coloured. Saturated walls only bring them psychologically closer, which will make the room feel small.
Amidst limited space, multiple activities like a family gathering room and living room have to be conjoined. With excessive use of space, the furniture is prone to wear and tear. The materials used should thus withstand the footprint and be flexible enough for replacement after years of use without calling an expert. Avoiding false ceilings can extensively increase the volume of the rooms, while surface-mounted light fixtures, uplighters, and lamps can suffice the artificial lighting requirements for compact houses. Adhering to these guidelines, even smaller houses with around 1200 sq ft of an area can be designed into creative and aesthetic homes without the burden of luxury costs.
Meena Murthy Kakkar is the Design Head at Envisage, an Interior and Architecture firm specializing in Design and Build projects. Meena pursued a Bachelor of Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, after which she started her design quest as a Partner at Envisage, along with Vishal Kakkar. With her 19 years of design experience, Meena has paved a glorious path for a practice that is embedded with robust design principles and provides comprehensive solutions for all requirements. Her oeuvre is predicated on a strategic and conceptual design vocabulary.
As a designer, she believes that a successful design is one that gets envisaged with sensitivity and empathy to the user's requirements. Being adept in residential, institutional, and corporate architecture and interiors, Meena can articulate multiple solutions to every given testing situation. She has designed the India Post Payments Bank for the Government of India, which was inaugurated by the Honourable PM Narendra Modi. She is also passionate about sharing her incredible knowledge with the young aspirants and has been teaching Design at SPA, Delhi, since 2008.
Over her 12 years of teaching career, she has conducted several seminars on AI and Architecture, Interior Design, and a Series of Lectures on various 'Career Roads post B. Arch' for the students. She has also been instrumental in initiating the placement process for B. Arch students at SPA and conducts corporate training workshops while also being a mentor for research projects. Meena can talk about design at length and has been a spokesperson at prominent industry events. Her work has been published in The Times of India, Economic Times, The Financial Express, The Pioneer, Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, India Today Home, and Archdaily, amongst many others