I am often asked to look at small flats and cottages with small rooms and while I try to be as obligiing as possible, I can’t always find good examples of these – this post is, after all, as much about the aesthetic as the advice. However, today I have found a small flat – two bedrooms – above a shop in north London, and if you aren’t from London you can ignore the prices and have a look round to see if there are any ideas that you can adapt to your own small spaces.
It’s on the market for £750,000 with The Modern House and I’m going to link straight away to the floorplan here so you can see what it’s like and if that might help you. The problem with two bedroom flats, and I remember this so clearly from when The Mad Husband and I were looking for our first flat some, ahem, 20 years ago, is that the second bedroom is often tiny. As is this one. And it’s about as far away from the main bedroom as it’s possible to be in 800sq ft (just under 75 sqm).
That said it has two bathrooms – one en suite – which is a massive bonus and probably a good selling point. When you buy the first flat – assuming it’s not the forever home – it’s vital to have an idea of how you can add value. It’s often tricky with flats as it can be hard to extend them and adding square footage is often the best way to add money.
That’s no good here as it’s a first floor flat so there’s no outside space at all never mind any you can build in. So in this case it would be about that extra bathroom or en suite – something that gives it a sense of having something extra. Then it’s about the fixtures and fittings – a really great kitchen can sell a flat. So too can a great bathroom although, apparently that is always the room people want to change most when they move in.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you aren’t intending to live in it forever that it’s not always worth spaffing huge amounts of money moving walls and re-arranging spaces because you probably won’t get it back when you sell. So it comes down to decorating with impact. That said restoring a few original features can be a good idea as that’s always on people’s wishlists. We re-did the fireplace in our first flat and added built-in shelving. Actually we re-did the bathroom too but that’s because the original one was turquoise so it felt like a necessity.
It’s not just about resale but also to make it wonderful for you to live in for as long as you choose to. And that’s where this little flat has totally embraced the colour. Now it has good bones – high ceilings and wooden floors so of course it would look good in white but the dark blues and greens are reminiscent of the old Highgate Village outside while adding impact to small spaces.
The exception is the small kitchen with its pale pink walls and white gloss cupboards – these will, of course, help bounce the light around. I might be tempted to swap to wooden doors that you can paint if you get bored. Doing them in pink to match the walls would also work to make the space feel bigger as they would sort of recede into the walls. Or a tonal shade (or three) darker than the walls would also look lovely although then I would keep the wall cabinets light/definitely matching the walls).
The bedrooms are both dark and note how painting the woodwork to match the walls makes the space feel bigger. This is because outlining the door, and the skirting boards, in white would serve only to draw attention to them and make you aware of the limitations of the space. This way works better in a small room and remember you don’t have to use dark paint. This idea works well with light colours too – in which case do the ceiling the same as well.
Alternatively you can have a lighter wall and pick a different colour that isn’t white for the woodwork. It won’t do the same space illusion trick but it will look pretty.
And the owners have gone all out in the bathrooms and here you can see that they have painted the ceiling in the same colour as the lower half of the wall with that dramatic wallpaper between.
So what do you think of this one? Do look at the floorplan (linked above) as for me it’s often the best way to help you plan a space.