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Image / Living / Interiors

There were so many great small-space ideas in last night’s ‘Home of the Year’


by Lauren Heskin
03rd Mar 2021
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Take a tour of all three homes from episode three of 'Home of the Year' and pick up a few tips on maximising your own space.

In last night’s episode of RTÉ’s Home of the Year, there were three very different houses. The converted apartment in Antrim, the remodelled bungalow in Louth and the semi-d in Limerick had very little in common really.

Lydia Mudge’s apartment in a former cotton mill was all exposed bricks and industrial-style furnishings, Olive Wilson and her husband Fergal transformed Olive’s family home into a bright open-plan space, while Saara and Mike McLoughlin really committed their personality to the walls of their semi-d.

However, despite these varying interior tastes, there was one thing that all three homes had – they all maximised the space of every inch of their homes, from Lydia’s raised bed and the double-height hall in Olive’s home to the perfectly positioned utility room in Saara’s converted loft.

Here’s are some of the small-space design ideas, whether you’ve got 40 square metres to play with or 400. 

Turn the volume up

Rather than enclose the staircase as it wraps around the main hall, Olive chose to leave it open, bringing the staircase into the room and all the height that comes with it. Coming into a double-height space, no matter the floor space, it will always feel much bigger.

The same can be said for Lydia’s spare bedroom. Lydia notes that the biggest challenge of her two-bedroom apartment was the design for the awkward spare bedroom. It just fit a double bed and not a whole lot more. So she did what anyone first-time homeowner would do – she called her dad. He built a suspended bed frame with a dressing area below, flooding the room with light below while still keeping the guest bed option. Genius.

Awkward spaces don’t have to be wasted ones

Lydia’s favourite spot, a little reading nook is the perfect example of optimising an otherwise “wasted” space. It’s secluded and narrow but has plenty of light, making a natural hideaway. Even if a space is tiny, if you work to its strengths it can really come alive.

Olive did something similar in the first-floor landing of her home. Located in the eaves, it wasn’t big enough to become a room and the sloping walls would have resulted in awkward storage. Olive decided to use the space as a relaxed seating area and study spot, perfectly lit by two overhead Velux windows.

There’s no fear of space being wasted in Saara and Mike McLoughlin’s Limerick home. They’ve packed personality into every inch. Not content to work with just the walls as display areas their colourful art collection, they incorporated the necessities to help carry their aesthetic. Curtains, stair treads, even the walls themselves have become artworks with brash prints and graphic lines. 

As well as maximising space, Saara and Mike have also maximised time, relocating their utility to a new area hidden behind a seamless door in the loft. Whoever decided that the utility should be beside the kitchen anyway? No more traipsing dirty clothes downstairs, taking up room in an already busy space. Now clothes can be washed, dried and returned to the wardrobes unseen from the most frequented rooms in the house.

Make the move

When it comes to tight corners and multi-functional rooms, moveable storage is key. Saara and Mike have used storage racks on wheels as bedside units, freeing up much-needed room around the bed area. Suspended lights mean you don’t need any fixed units and it helps the room feel like a calmer, more open space.

While fixed units are very handy, Lydia has not compromised on the light that floods through her apartment. Using moveable furniture like the drinks trolley and table in the kitchen arch creates additional work surfaces and storage and can be easily moved out of the way when you need more room. Having items on legs allows light to travel through and ensures you can really appreciate the size of the room while drawing your eye upward.

Were you surprised by last night’s winner? Take a look through all three homes below.

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