The designer shares the tips that made this small home big enough for everything her clients wanted
The Summer House is a (roughly) 650 sq. ft 2BHK apartment that overlooks Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. “The homeowners are a retired couple. Since the apartment is on a higher floor and overlooks the Park, the couple wanted to bring the aspect of nature into their home. In a nutshell: a home inspired by nature with an open plan,” says architect Chrisann Rodrigues, founder at Eight Degree Design, who designed the home.
Working on a small home is not without its challenges, from creating storage solutions to finding furniture that fits. But according to Chrisann there are plenty of ways to maximise space without compromising on form or function. She takes us through her latest small space project, The Summer House.
Chrisann Rodrigues: An open plan with no bifurcation is the best way to open up a space. So we did make some structural changes. The living room has been extended into the balcony. We broke the brick walls and stretched the window from end to end. We installed a slide-and-fold window so that the room becomes one large space that has inside and outside seating.
CR: Number one: avoid false ceilings. Also, you can incorporate vertical lines in some way. If you look at the TV unit—the wall behind it is made up of vertical lines that draw the eye upwards. It is an MDF wall with V-grooves. Also notice where the wall meets the beam of the passageway…it cuts off at a certain point. We decided to keep the V-groove beyond the beam and move it upwards, touching the ceiling. Anything that directs the eye upwards can add a sense of height.
CR: For storage, we wanted to keep things sleek but highly functional. The bar unit has an arch and a statement colour which makes it stand out, while the mirror behind adds expanse. On the functionality side, it doubles up as cutlery and crockery cabinet. We also made use of natural elements wherever possible and chose colours that blend into the wall.
CR: My tip is to use solids and avoid too much pattern. Patterns get busy. So, stick with solids and use a combination of natural and self-textured materials, with pops of colour/pattern here and there.
CR: We stuck to solids and muted shades with the occasional pop of colour. The living-dining is largely neutral, punctuated with shades of green from the bar unit, dining chairs and the bottle-green wall lamps that frame the TV unit.
The guest bedroom has been done a little differently. It has a gorgeous view of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, so we made a customised jungle-inspired wallpaper with a blush tint. We added a pink sofa bed that complements the wall and as a finishing touch, installed a globe-shaped hanging light in the corner that feels almost like a moon. For small spaces, I think it’s important to avoid busy or patterned floors and ceilings.
CR: The kitchen was important for this couple. We broke the walls of the dry balcony and extended the space, transforming a standard galley kitchen into a U-shaped one with enough room to move. The cabinetry has been customised to accommodate a coffee bar at one end. The floors are bold and printed, which add a fun element, but we kept the rest of the kitchen muted to maintain that balance. And the kitchen has a sliding door, which again saves space.
CR: You can work art into the structure with the existing elements. In the guest bedroom, the customised wallpaper and curved wooden wardrobe act as a piece of art.
All over the home, instead of using simple plain laminated doors, we added white mouldings to give each door some character.
The wardrobe in the master bedroom is an antique piece that the couple wanted to keep. We changed the polish and hardware and amped it up with a nature-inspired print on the door to give it a fresh look. Using what you already own is a great way to add personality. Being a Parsi family, I wanted to showcase their heritage. So, for the living room, we took old family photos and added a vintage tint to them and got them framed. You can create an interesting backdrop with simple yet unexpected elements.
CR: The key is to invest in pieces that are proportionate to the room. Curved edges as opposed to rectangular edges because curves add a softness and lightness. The sofa and armchair in the living room both have curved edges.
CR: Don’t hesitate to use a nice white couch or sofa in your home! Don’t be afraid to use white just because you think it is difficult to maintain or because you are afraid of stains. A white sofa lightens a space and adds lightness to it.