Feeling a tad cramped? Life a bit of a squash and a squeeze?
In the UK we are all too familiar with bijou living arrangements. We know what it's like to collide daily with family members in space-starved interiors.
But we're no hoarders. We've set storage capacity to maximum; we've decluttered and streamlined to within an inch of our lives - yet still the stuff keeps coming.
Imagine a brave new world where we could swap two pieces of furniture in each room for one that did the job of both? Imagine that.
Every little helps, as someone somewhere once said, and with that in mind we've pulled together 11 buys that may very well ease the pain of cheek-by-jowl living. Be prepared to purge.
1. Kitchen island and bench seating
There are lots of ways to combine kitchen and dining spaces, but this is one of our favourites. Two sides of this kitchen island unit have been built out to incorporate bench seating. Fit with smart piped seat pad covers and bright cheerful scatter cushions then simply move a dining table and additional chairs into the resulting space. The contrast of farmhouse-style dining furniture and modern fitted units keeps the feel relaxed and cosy. Cabinetry, Smallbone of Devizes.
2. Bathroom basin and storage
Sometimes we forget what a clever dual-function piece the vanity unit is - and it is essential in a space-poor bathroom. This beautiful example also combines the function of basin and worktop into a single moulded piece, making it super stylish and effortless to keep clean. Vanity unit, Christopher Howard.
3. Office shelf and desk
If your 'home office' is no more than an alcove fitted with shelves you can do no better - space-saving wise - than to turn the lowest shelf into a built-in desk. Double check that the height and depth are right for sitting at and housing your essentials. It makes sense to allow for cables so use a router to drill any necessary holes at the back of the shelf. Keep as much desktop space as free as possible by hanging a task light on the wall and tucking a filing cabinet underneat. Similar stool with steps, Ikea. Metal document holder, Rockett St George.
4. Kitchen airer and peg rail
Clothes drying is never easy in a tiny kitchen. Avoid the expense of running a tumble dryer and go the greener route with a clothes airer. This one is wall-mounted so even when it is extended and in use it uses up no floor space. It also incorporates a peg rail for hanging other useful bits and bobs. What's not to love? Extendable wall-airer, Garden Trading.
5. Child's bed and chest of drawers
Children's rooms can be some of the smallest spaces in a home so doubling up on furniture functions can free up much-needed space. This fabulous den-like bed sits atop a pair of sliding panel doors behind which lie pull-out shelves and drawers. It's the perfect piece of streamlining: the kids will love that bunk-bed feel; you'll be giddy at the capacious storage. For similar bespoke furniture, try Sandbone.
6. Peg shelf and coat stand
Whether you have a boot room, utility room or just a plain old hallway, the storage-buster in us all will appreciate this shelf design that can also function as a coat and hat stand. Add lined baskets for smaller items and don't forget you can use the top too - it's perfect for more decorative pieces. Always double check weight capacity (damp coats can be heavy!) before buying and follow manufacturer's instructions for hanging safely and securely. For a similar design, try Not on the High Street.
7. Boot store and hallway seating
A wooden bench works a treat, providing a happy, welcoming face for visitors and a perch for soft furnishing fabrics that are hard to introduce into a hallway by any other means. But a bench can seem like an extravagance if you have to accommodate shoe and boot storage, too. So why not combine the two with a wooden sofa that has a lift-up lid under the seat? This pretty design comes from Scumble Goosie.
8. Kitchen prep and dining surface
Combine the function of a kitchen worktop with that of a dining table. Here one side of an extended worktop is used for food preparation; the other as a breakfast bar. Tall bar stools allow for dining without the need to drop a section of the worktop to table height. A brilliant solution for space-strapped homes that have neither a dining room nor space in the kitchen for a conventional table and chairs. For similar worktops, try K Kitchens; for bar stools, Purves & Purves.
9. Sofa-turned-bed in a living room
Nothing beats a sofa bed in the dual-purpose furniture stakes. It's the Transformer of home interiors, shrouding its bed potential within a pure sofa form. The sofabed is a life-changer, too, opening up the possibility of guests for spacially challenged households devoid of guest rooms. This neat little number is the Rachel compact sofa bed from DFS.
10. In-wardrobe dressing table
The benefits of the sliding wardrobe door are many, but top of the list is its ability to open without needing extra floor space to do so. A close second is its function as a screening device. This allows you to include whatever you like as it can be hidden from view until you need to use it. In this bedroom, the wardrobe incorporates a slimline built-in dressing table with fitted mirror, light and storage. It's a snug arrangement that takes up far less space than a standalone equivalent would. The sliding doors show here are from Ikea.
11. Shower becomes bath
In a small or awkwardly shaped bathroom you may be hard pressed to squeeze in a bath as well as a shower - and have no room elsewhere to house either of the two. A shower-bath can be a brilliant solution, allowing you to enjoy a full-size shower and a full-size bath in a single piece of sanitaryware. Lots of different sizes are available, so where bath length may be an issue, such as in this space under the eaves, look for designs that are shorter and wider then a conventional bath, but still have the same capacity. This is the Alberti shower-bath, available from Bathrooms.com.
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