Best ways to decorate a one-room living space - by Steve Leung*
There are ways to design a studio so it is possible to forget there is only one room.
From the outside in
Start from the surrounding environment and see if there's anything you can take from the preset backdrop. If the apartment has a good or expansive view, try to incorporate it into the design. Choose light sheers, or blinds that can be pulled right up. If the view is oppressive, block it out.
Focus on use of space
Before selecting materials and furnishings, look at the floor plan and analyse the space allocation. For a studio flat, function is the number one priority. Work out where you are going to sleep, wash and sit, and consider the flow of space between these areas.
Home is where the heart is
Living and design are inseparable: the space should match your lifestyle and make you feel comfortable. Think about what you don't need as well as what you do: if you are a single person and seldom cook or do the laundry at home, cut back on bulky appliances.
Open the way
With furniture and accessories blocking the view across a room and jutting out into open spaces, any apartment will look cramped. Move furniture out of walkways and you'll open up the space. You can also focus on dainty pieces of furniture, like an ottoman, an armless chair, or a low table, and place large, tall pieces along a wall rather than out in the open space. If you can see the floor, your studio will look larger.
Work on a theme
A strong thematic design makes a big impact in such a space, and can unite the feeling of the area. Choose a simple theme and coordinate all your furnishings within it. A typical decor would see all-white furnishings pepped up with glass or stainless steel accents. Keep your design-style minimal and limit yourself to elegant, clean-lined furniture and very few accessories.
Choose soft, light hues
If you want to introduce some colour, stick to light, cool shades that make a space feel open and airy. For optimum effect, choose colours that are in the same colour family and use tone-on-tone woven upholstery fabrics, textured wall finishes, and delicate tonal drapery fabrics.
Strike a balance
Balance is a very important concept in Chinese philosophy, and very useful in design. Balance between open and furnished space, balance between colours, balance between function and beauty; all these help to create an ambience in the room. When you feel you've "designed" enough, step back and stop adding things in.
Bespoke is best
Ready-made furniture may not fit the space, so consider having it custom-made and/or built in. Pieces that are either too big or too small will ruin the overall design.
The sofa-bed could have been invented for one-room living but it's not the only solution of its type. Try to make sure that each piece of furniture in your room does double duty. From storage ottomans to tables with hidden drawers, there are countless creative pieces available.
Out of sight is out of mind
Any room will feel cramped if there's too much in it. Work out ways to hide things you don't use every day (or don't want to look at everyday) behind doors, under table skirts, or on high shelves. Built-in storage is a must in any one-room living space. With things neatly arranged and/or out of sight, your studio will feel orderly and open.
*Steve Leung, who has contributed to this article, is the director of Steve Leung Architects Ltd. For more information, contact him on 2566 2995