How to design unique spaces: tips and tricks

awkward shaped room

You’re not the only one wondering how to design unique spaces. If you’ve got an awkward-shaped room in your house, it can be tricky, but don’t worry: we’ve got lots of advice for you.

When looking at a floor plan, many people are put off by an unusually shaped room. So here, we explain how to design unique spaces. Whether asymmetric, narrow or compact, these spaces may be awkwardly shaped. However, they have much more to offer than you may initially think. So read on for some expert design ideas on how to accommodate your requirements within a unique space.

Aneto rattan and concrete table lamp, lights&lamps.

Firstly: how to maximise your space

Here’s how to make the most of a unique space

Firstly: houses with an unusual floor plan require a little ingenuity to make the most of an awkward space. Are you challenged with an L-shaped room, a narrow area, or an inconvenient nook? No matter: our experts are here to help with their top tips on how to accommodate your requirements within a unique space.

Secondly, more is more when lighting a unique space

‘Generally speaking, cool white or even daylight bulbs are only really good for high task or work space areas where there is no natural light,” says Niki Wright, co-founder of lights&lamps. “So layering warmer light is a more natural way to brighten your living space and help transition the day into evening. The use of brighter ceiling fittings in the day is often a subtle enhancement to natural daylight. Dimming them down in the evening and complementing with low level lamps can also transform a bright space by day into a cozy living room by night.’ 

rattan lampshade
How to design unique spaces: Seta natural rattan lampshade, £79, lights&lamps.

How to light your space effectively

The position of lighting is key

“The positioning of lighting is key to any scheme,” says Niki. “There is always a darker, north-facing side to every home and the use of lighting is an easy solution. Home owners shouldn’t be afraid of turning on a light during the day, even in spring and summer. Illuminating a dull corner with a table or floor lamp or washing a dark wall with a well-placed wall light can make a huge difference to the energy and feel to a room.’

marble and rattan table lamp
How to design unique spaces: Roha brown marble and rattan table lamp, £149, lights&lamps.

How to design unique spaces

Make use of height to maximise storage

‘Generally speaking, in a narrow space, you should make use of the height and wall spaces as much as possible,” says Peter Erlandsson, co-owner of String Furniture. “This is why String is a good option, with all its flexible options. And it’s modular, meaning you can add more or change it around at any time. But if you have space under the stairs you could almost design a small extra room, with desk, cabinets and shelves.’ 

how to design unique spaces
How to design unique spaces: String system in walnut with black panels, from £72, String.

More ways to design unique spaces

Carefully zone the space

‘Use statement lighting to create different zones that each have a purpose. Hang pendant lighting over dining areas and use task lamps in corners of the room to create cosy areas for reading.

‘Open furniture, such as cabinets, bookcases, or shelving can be used to create different zones, without making the space feel closed in. Alternatively, a folding screen can provide privacy, something that is often lacking in open plan living.’ Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin.

How to design unique spaces
How to design unique spaces: Anouska Hempel, Kit Kemp Design, as featured in the Andrew Martin Interior Design Review.

How to design unique spaces

Consider pattern and colour

‘When choosing wallpaper, consider the size of a room. Smaller scale patterns work well in big rooms, but can overwhelm smaller spaces. Larger scale patterns work well in most rooms but think about lighting, as this can affect the look of wallpaper and make a colour appear lighter or darker.’

How to design unique spaces
How to design unique spaces: Kit Kemp Design, as featured in the Andrew Martin Interior Design Review.

“Tiles are beautiful pieces of art on their own and have the power to utterly transform a room. Using tiles as a kitchen splashback is an exquisite way of displaying and accentuating their pattern, texture, and glaze. A beautiful way to bring a burst of colour into a room, highly reflective gloss tiles are also a great way to create a sense of space and openness. Whether you’re looking to go bright and bold or simple and classic, our offering of tiles comes in a whole range of styles and designs to suit all types of homes.” Diane Hyde, Marketing Manager at Craven Dunnill.

How to design unique spaces

Craven Dunnill Jackfield x House of Hackney tiles, from £8.

More ways to design an awkward space

Turn an inconvenient nook into a cosy ready space

‘If there is a nook or niche, use it. Make awkward corners a point of interest by adding open shelving and filling with books and accessories,’ notes Camilla Clarke, Creative Director of Albion Nord. ‘Don’t be afraid to use unusual furniture pieces to work in the space. A bookshelf doesn’t always have to be a bookshelf. If you are compromised for space, use something interesting and unexpected as an alternative. You can stack books on a bar cart, on the fireplace mantel or on a windowsill. Don’t compromise on the scale of your furniture. A small room doesn’t mean it needs small furniture. Try not to scale down the furniture, embrace a small sitting room with a large sofa and it becomes so much more inviting.’

boucle armchair
How to design unique spaces: A living room styled by Albion Nord.

How to arrange your kitchen layout

Perfect Positioning – Kitchen Layout

‘Walkway space and the working triangle should be considerations when designing your layout. Having your hob, sink and refrigerator located equidistant from each other, optimising your workspace means everything is at arms reach. If you have a galley kitchen placing your sink on the opposite side of the cooker will help to avoid conflicts within the space. If you have a small U shaped kitchen, avoid cramming in too much cabinetry; although you may feel like storage is crucial, entire runs of closed cabinets can enclose the space even more. Utilise corners by including clever pull-out solutions and only use wall cabinets on one side for a spacious feel.’ Tom Howley, Design Director at the eponymous kitchen company.

how to design unique spaces
How to design unique spaces: The Hartford collection in Periwinkle, The Butler collection in Marjoram & Tansy, prices start from £25,000, Tom Howley.
blue shaker kitchen
How to design unique spaces: The Butler Collection in Dark Blue Shaker Kitchen, prices start from £25,000, Tom Howley.

Utilise your space with a kitchen island

‘Kitchen islands are the perfect combination of aesthetic beauty and functionality. A clever kitchen island design will increase worktop space, improve storage capacity with innovative storage options and even potentially add a dining option by way of a breakfast bar.’ Jonathan Stanley, VP Marketing at Caesarstone.

How to design unique spaces
How to design unique spaces: 504 Lumena, porcelain collection, Caesarstone.

Lastly, how to handle narrow spaces

Double up duty of a narrow space

‘Often, utility rooms are located in passageways and care needs to be taken to watch the traffic flow through a space. For small spaces, every room may have double duty and sometimes more! Here we have not only valuable storage surrounding the machines but a home office across that requires a lot of space. That, and it houses the only back access to the garden! A lot for one small space to capture so thoughtful storage was important.’  Suzanne Duin, founder of Maison Maison.

How to design unique spaces
How to design unique spaces: lastly, Patterson House, Maison Maison.

So, did you enjoy this feature on designing unique spaces? Then you’ll like this article about amazing kitchen handles that will personalise your design.

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