If there's one factor that can dissuade people from looking into apartment living, it’s the lack of room to move. It feels like there’s little you can do to widen the space you have or expand the living areas, which can be especially challenging for those with growing families.
However, there are many ways you can superficially make an area look bigger without having to contemplate significant renovations.
For instance, a smooth flow from room to room goes a long way towards creating a sense of cohesiveness throughout the home. Limiting clutter is also an easy, instant fix to open up more space, and a minimalist design can make a unit’s layout look a lot cleaner.
One area where smart design can really add functionality and ‘wow factor’ is the bedroom, says Adrian Ramsay, CEO of Adrian Ramsay Design House. With the right lighting and purposing of the space you already have, he believes you can do wonders, even with a small apartment bedroom.
“The bedrooms are the personal spaces within a home, so you want them to ignite emotion and feeling when you walk into them,” he says.
“A well-designed and thought-out bedroom brings a true essence of relaxation, comfort and ‘home’ into a building.”
Whether you’re renovating for investment purposes or to create a sanctuary for yourself, these reno tips could help elevate your bedroom to the next level.
“The bedrooms are the personal spaces within a home, so you want them to ignite emotion”
STEP ONE: CONCEALED WITH FLAIR
Bulkheads can eat into a bedroom’s space, but when done right they can be a clever and eye-catching design statement. They generally have a practical purpose, concealing important things like wires, pipes, ducts or exhaust fans, so try to work with them to create smart solutions.
For instance, window blinds can be recessed into plaster bulkheads to keep the blinds from constricting the view.
“A great view is a gift from nature,” Ramsay says. “So before you add to or take from the building, work with what is already there so you can fully enjoy it – then enhance it.”
Vertical blinds are perfect for glass doors and large windows because they can control the amount of sunlight that comes in. It’s important to protect walls from direct sunlight as that can lead to paint drying and cracking.
STEP TWO: MULTIPURPOSE FEATURE WALLS
A feature wall is a great way to make an aesthetic statement in a room. However, it can be more than just a design element – you can maximise its value by making it functional. Running wires along the back allows you to install appliances without having to damage the bedroom wall itself as a result of cutting into it.
“The feature wall is where we place the air conditioning to avoid any unsightly split systems on the walls,” Ramsay explains. By situating the feature wall behind the bed, it can also serve as a bulkhead. Adding texture to the wall can create a great effect with the right lights.
Wallpaper is perfect for feature walls because the different prints give you a lot of design options. It is also more temporary than paint, so you can change up your aesthetic as often as you like.
STEP THREE: DOWNLIGHT DRAMA
Crucial to a bedroom’s design is the mood it evokes. You want the space to feel like your own personal retreat from the world – a place to relax and unwind without reservation. Having soft lighting in a bedroom is important to create a chill atmosphere, and installing downlights is a great way to do this.
If you’re working with textured walls, downlights can be positioned to reflect shapes, while filling a room with a warm glow. For an even more muted effect, downlights can be recessed into a feature wall. If you feel like downlights may be too dim, invest in good-quality lamps with brightness levels you can adjust.
LEDs are the way to go if you’re looking for lighting – they save you money and energy while providing adequate brightness. LED lights also don’t contain any toxic elements like mercury, which harm the environment.
STEP FOUR: NATURAL LIGHT FLOW
A dark, closed room will feel claustrophobic and tiny, so a tried-and-true trick to give the illusion of space is to enhance natural lighting where possible. This can help create flow throughout an apartment.
If your body corporate allows you to make small windows larger, go ahead. For example, if you have a balcony, installing a full, edgeless glass panel that allows lots of natural light to enter the room would be ideal. Where structural change isn’t an option, look for opportunities to let more light in, such as by replacing frosted glass or glass bricks with a sheet of clear glass to increase light flow.
If you’re going to fit your bedroom with large windows, ensure you’ve got tough, high-quality glass panes that aren’t easy to break. They should also provide some level of soundproofing and insulation in the winter.
STEP FIVE: STACKING DOORS
A traditional hinged door can impede space because you need to make room to open and close it. A smart alternative is stacking doors, which give you more space to work with without having to make major structural changes.
They also improve the flow between the inside and outside of the room. “The incredible thing about these doors is that they can slide any way, left to right, and completely stack onto each other,” Ramsay says. This allows you to extend the space as necessary and invite a beautiful view in – you can even make the outdoors part of your bedroom!
Aluminium stacker doors are considered to be very secure as long as you lock them properly. Tough safety glass panels can deter potential burglars because they take a while to break through, allowing time for the authorities to arrive.
STEP SIX: SHELVES UP
A full-sized cabinet can take up unnecessary space, so install elevated shelves above the bed instead for books and other decorative items. This provides easy access, while also adding a clean and appealing visual effect.
Just make sure to use sturdy material, as the last thing you want is for the shelves to give way. It is best to stay well within the estimated weight limit of the shelf to ensure that it can handle what’s on it. You can also add some fencing on the edge of the shelf – it secures the contents further.
Hollow wall anchors can be used to hold shelves of different lengths to the wall. Always mark the mounting holes properly with a tape measure and a pencil so that you don’t make mistakes in drilling.
STEP SEVEN: WARDROBES OVER CLOSETS
Freestanding wardrobes may take COST up less room than a traditional built-in closet, and they’re often a lot cheaper, too. They can slot in nicely next to the bed in place of a nightstand.
You can find different wardrobes at affordable prices depending on your personal sense of style. Corner wardrobes can make the most out of an unused pocket of the room, and wardrobes with sliding doors (as opposed to doors that open out) give you even more space. Many wardrobe sets come with cabinets for additional storage, built-in shelves and even slots for shoes.
To minimise the chances of termite invasion, don’t overfill a wooden wardrobe. There should be enough space for air to constantly pass through, and leave the doors open to air the contents out every once in a while.
STEP EIGHT: COLOUR POP
A splash of colour can give your COST room instant oomph, especially light shades, because they open up the space and reflect the light. A unified colour scheme throughout the apartment can also knit everything together and make the unit feel like one big room.
If painting the walls is not an option, you can choose to show off colour through your furniture. It doesn’t have to be monochromatic – experiment with different shades, textures and complementary colour schemes to add personality. The key is to not overdo it, as too much colour be overwhelming.
Be good to your body by choosing paints that are odour-free. Make a point of also cleaning the walls on a regular basis to prevent the build-up of dirt or mildew.
With apartment living on the rise, Adrian Ramsay is focused on making the most of existing space
Established in the Sunshine State’s Buderim, the Adrian Ramsay Design House has been performing “design magic” on renovation projects for about 10 years. A few years ago, the firm embarked on a modern reno of a 10th-floor Sunshine Coast apartment, and their work on the bedrooms in particular made an impact on the final product.
“The owners were in their 60s, and the brief was ‘black and white’. They wanted to combine two separate apartments to create one four-bedroom apartment with large living spaces that took in the views of the ocean and river mouth,” Ramsay explains.
For this project, Ramsay and his group had to look into the asbestos problem plaguing the property, which sent them over budget and made it necessary for the team to keep an eye on expenses.
“The bedrooms were a standout in this project as they addressed the individual needs of the client, while keeping costs low and creating a real connection with the outside,” Ramsay says. “When renovating in an apartment building, there are structural elements that must be considered.
For example, your floor is the lower level’s ceiling, and your ceiling is the level above’s floor. In a major renovation such as this, there are clever ways to ensure you can make changes to the placement of lighting and air conditioning, [as well as] move walls, windows and doors to create a feeling of spaciousness without compromising the integrity of the building.” Ramsay incorporated his clients’ wishes to ensure that the bedroom would evoke the mood they wanted to achieve, because he considers the right feeling to be a valuable aspect of a bedroom renovation.
“This apartment was a stunning overall renovation, with the bedrooms creating an intimate yet open feel within the space of the home,” he says. “Because a home is the combined connection of the different areas, all areas need to flow within themselves and into each other, creating a complete journey throughout the home, and this effortless flow was achieved in this renovation.”
With a focus on delivering unique, appealing design features in these bedrooms, Ramsay leveraged every square inch of space.
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