Cherie Barber’s top 5 tips for maximising small spaces

Space-saving hacks and hidden secrets to make the most of your small home
Cherie Barber’s top 5 tips for maximising small spacesCherie Barber

We’d all love more space in our homes. From storage to living areas, outdoors and even wall space for art – many homeowners are working with a limited amount of space to create their ideal home. Renovating for Profit founder Cherie Barber shows us how to make the most of our spaces.

This is often easier said than done – you can’t create space out of nowhere, after all. The decision to sell up and move to a larger home may find you in a space-poor situation down the track and, whilst property prices are falling in major cities, the affordability of housing across Australia generally remains at an all-time low.

Enter, Cherie Barber, Australia’s leading renovation educator and expert and founder of Renovating for Profit. With over 27 years of profitable renovation experience, we asked for her tips on making the most of the space at hand in our homes. 

Cherie Barber’s top 5 tips for maximising small spaces
Handy office space created adjacent to kitchen with a simple update

1. The cupboard under the stairs

“The space under the stairs is such a tricky shaped space. It’s often left simply as dead space, or else quickly converted into a cupboard. It’s normally an awkward shape however, this means even using it as cupboard space makes for a restrictive storage option,” says Cherie. “Instead, build in bookshelves or an open display case and create a feature for the room,” she suggests. “If not everything you own is display-appropriate, consider using wicker baskets on the bookshelves to store your less Pinterest-worthy possessions!”

2. Think about a floating wall

“This is a great way to increase your wall space without cutting up a room,” says Cherie. “In a bedroom, a floating wall will give you somewhere to hang a television, whilst the back can host a number of shelves or drawers, or even a shoe rack. It’s also a great way for creating a division between rooms in a property that you still want to keep an open plan.”

“A mirror placed in the right location can also help bounce light and providing a different ambience in the room”

Cherie Barber

3. Use floor to ceiling shelving

“If you’re putting in shelving, go the whole hog and shelve up to the ceilings,” says Cherie. “Even if you have ceilings so high you think you’ll never use the top shelves, they’re good to have and will stop any dead space being created between the top of the shelves and the ceiling. It also means there’s one less surface to dust!”

4. Keep it light and use mirrors

“This is an oft-quoted tip for smaller spaces, but for good reason. It really is important to keep walls and ceilings light and airy,” says Cherie. “If you’re partial to grey walls, consider going a shade lighter for the ceilings – it’ll not only help make them seem higher than they are, it can help the room appear larger than it is too!”

“When it comes to bathrooms and kitchens, you can consider mirrored tiles; as for obvious reasons they’ll give the illusion of more space, as well as reflecting more light around the room.”

Cherie Barber’s top 5 tips for maximising small spaces
Clever barn door conceals an office nook (Credit: Cherie Barber)

Cherie Barber’s top 3 space-saving ideas on a budget

  1. Accumulate less clutter! Pack away seasonal things you don’t need, such as bedding and woollens, into vacuum-sealed bags that take up a fraction of the space you’d otherwise need.
  2. Buy storage that you can pack up or fold away when not in use. ie, cantilevered table, collapsible or foldable laundry basket, nest of side tables, etc.
  3. Think “dual purpose, dual function” as much as possible. Sofa beds, breakfast table or island benches (work + kitchen space), coffee table with drawers or under shelving… this is particularly relevant for small apartment living.

“Don’t just pile stuff in; buy storage that maximises those awkward spaces.”

Cherie Barber, Renovating for Profit, Renovation educator and expert

Top hacks and tricks for affordable storage

“On a budget, you’re really looking at portable or DIY solutions, rather than anything built-in or custom made,” says Cherie. “Open shelving, hooks and nobs are an obvious option.”

“Storage on castors that you can slide in and out from under the bed. Everyday items need to be easily accessible.”

“For those dead spaces like corner kitchen cupboards, the space above wardrobes that don’t stretch to the ceiling, and in older bathrooms with little built-in storage, there are loads of dedicated storage solutions at places like Bunnings and IKEA,” says Cherie.

The first hack that comes to mind to solve storage in a cluttered living room? “I love this idea (below) that I used to solve exactly that problem in a one-bedroom [apartment],” enthuses Cherie.

Cherie Barber’s top 5 tips for maximising small spaces
(Credit: Cherie Barber)

Learn more amazing renovating ideas from Cherie at her upcoming FREE masterclasses where she gives step-by-step advice on how to renovate every room in the house. Go here for details.

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