Make it look bigger

The latest oobarometer stats reveal that the average purchase price growth among first-time buyers remains strong at 12.1 percent in June. This, together with the continued easing in lending criteria, is good news for potential homebuyers in South Africa.

Due to economic restraints, however, many first-time homebuyers are restricted to a small home or apartment property but, according to Linda Rall, KZN Provincial Sales Manager at ooba, this should not deter them from investing as creating a sense of space is not difficult and does not require the services of an expensive interior designer. "By making a few minor but effective changes to the interior of a property you can easily maximise and create the illusion of space in smaller properties."

When creating space, the reflective value of light is essential, says Rall. "Dark colours absorb light and shrink already small areas. Bright and pale coloured walls will not only create an impression of lifting up the whole room, but also give the feeling of height."

Rall adds that a rule of thumb is to not create too much clutter, but rather opt for continuity and flow. "In smaller areas one should keep the scheme simple and, for a soothing effect, this can be achieved from choosing and matching pieces with similar appeal.

"Natural light is vital and should be used to its fullest potential as it penetrates an interior space of up to seven meters." Rall advises maximising the effect of light by investing in mirrors and mirrored surfaces such as counters and coffee tables as they create depth by replicating light and creating the illusion of scale.

In the evening, Rall says, to generate volume an option is to spread a few lamps throughout a room or use a mix of lights such as downlighters, standing or desk lamps which brighten up a room and bounce different waves of light off different surfaces.

"Your best possible choice of furniture is also a good way to create space. Get rid of any dark and bulky furniture. Often when you remove only one item it creates more space, so only keep what is necessary."

Instead invest in simple, sleek furniture, but also choose an object that serves more than one function, such as a sleeper couch or storage boxes that form part of a coffee table. "Try using furniture pieces with legs that are not too high and not "boxy" in shape. Not only will this create space, but it will also improve the functionality of a room and make it appear less crowded."

Placing furniture along the walls will automatically create more space in the centre of the room. Keep the walkways and floor clear. "If you can see from one room to another it immediately opens up the entire space."

Rall suggests using large plain textured carpets that are not heavily patterned as they define the space and create an impression of generousness and continuity.

"Window dressings should be kept simple. Blinds and curtains should be hung from midway, between the ceiling and the top of the window. This is not to appear too voluminous for the space they are in."

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