Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

10 Tips for Creating a Small Apartment You’ll Love to Live In

Today’s guest post is from Karen Krizanovich, a small-space dweller living in London. She recently shared her experience and philosophy in the The Times UK. Today, she gives pointers for how to create a no-fuss, reasonably-priced small apartment (aka apartment) you’ll love to live in. 

Yes, I would love to live in the Hong Kong apartment designed by Gary Chang, the architect who transformed 344 sq ft into 24 different living spaces. Unfortunately, my flat doesn’t have that kind of scope and neither do I. Still, I can adopt similar principles learned from my friend architect Professor Miriam Neet, LifeEdited and other resources to live in a streamlined, no-fuss, no-muss and non-neurotic fashion. I’ve found the following tips to be indispensable for making a small home you truly want to live in.

  1. Live in your place a few months before making complicated or permanent non-essential changes. Think you know everything already how you live–what’s important, what’s not? You’ll be wrong at least 25% of the time. Be patient. You won’t regret it.
  2. Be a simpleton. We all love innovative, automated designs. But what happens when they break? Who’ll fix it? What if the electricity goes off? What about the batteries? As much as I’d love to own, say, electric curtain rails, I know I’m asking for trouble. Remember that guy with the cool thing that didn’t work? Don’t be him.
  3. Follow your gut. I never liked the way my kitchen cupboard doors shut (stupid spring devices). I said I’d give them a try but, deep in my soul, I knew they’d irk me. And they still do. Little annoying things like this are accentuated in a small space and erode the comfort of your home. Fix things immediately that don’t feel right.
  4. With things you love, buy to last. Plan to repair them when needed. Like a great pair of shoes, your home should be serviceable, look great and fit perfectly.
  5. When the space is small, bad design really grates. Everything has to be just right. Settling for ugly solutions will do temporarily, but always keep on the lookout for the right one.
  6. Buy a cheaper version to roadtest. I’ve bought five different chairs and none of them really worked in the space. Now I’m testing an inexpensive version of another design. If it works, I’ll buy the expensive one eventually.
  7. Ask yourself what you really need. I don’t need a coffee grinder. I barely need a blender and I sure as heck don’t need a blender that is also a soup maker. Keep gadgetry to a basic level–and keep them off the kitchen counter. Clutter is your small flat’s supreme enemy.
  8. Make your home user-friendly. Like training a horse, you don’t want someone to get on and have to learn new techniques. You want anyone to be able to ride your horse right away. Same with your apartment. Keep things basic and obvious. I don’t care for murphy beds or complicated heating systems. Toilets should flush, not do tricks. You don’t want a flat that makes you or other occupants feel stupid.
  9. Love your neighbourhood. One of the big advantages of living in a small flat is that you can afford to live in a neighbourhood that would otherwise be out of reach. Know why you’re there and what’s great about it. That way, even if your apartment transformation is taking a long long time, you’ll remember the bigger picture.
  10. Decide a good want. When you’re considering buying something, imagine your day-to-day life with it. If something really makes you happy–if it is a delight to use, to look at, to own, then it’s probably worth it. If you can live without it, try to do that.
  • Very sensible and useful points – especially the one about living in the space before you make big decisions.

  • Emma Chesters

    I am so inspired by this piece. I live a life surrounded by clutter, some of it mine, some my huband’s and children’s belongings. When the children fly the nest, I am now looking forward to my husband downsizing to a smaller place but in one of the glorious cities on this planet . Karen’s guidelines to living in a simpler, more efficient space are very practical. I also like her advice about not setting for ugly designs. I will try to remember that next time I buy something and impatiently settle for something aesthetically undesirable because I can’t be bothered to source out the one I do want.

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