Thursday 28 May 2009 8:00 pm


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Alan Waxman

Q. Dear Alan, My house is small and lacking in storage space. Is there anything I can do to make the place seem larger and use the space more efficiently?
A. The first thing about having a small place is that the choice of colours is crucial to maximise the space, along with strategic usage of mirrors or mirrored walls. Paint the walls a light colour but have darker floors as a contrast. In terms of mirrors you don’t want a mirror facing you as you walk into the property. Feng shui says that this is bad because it reflects the energy back out of the house. However, it is fine to put a mirror anywhere else in the property to increase the sense of space.

From a storage point of view, there are a number of things you can do to maximise your space. Make sure that any storage cupboards go all the way from floor to ceiling and have a small stepladder handy to get to those higher spots, which you might not fully use right now. If you have the budget you could also think about getting an additional storage unit outside the property which is useful for keeping winter or summer clothing or rarely used items.

In small houses it is much more important to be very tidy so it is worth investing in boxes. There are plenty of very attractive storage containers which can be especially useful on those top shelves.

The room with the least storage space and the most stuff tends to be the bathroom so buying a storage unit can really make a difference here.

Q. Dear Alan, I’ve just bought a property and while the kitchen is fully functional, it looks a bit shabby. I don’t particularly want to put in a brand new kitchen. How can I smarten up the room and what should I prioritise?
A. The first thing you should do is get the kitchen professionally cleaned and give it a lick of paint, especially if the tiles are a bit grubby. It is surprising how much this can improve a room and you can assess how much more you want to do from there.

If you change just one thing about the kitchen it should be the kitchen doors – these are highly visible and brand new ones can really smarten up a room. There are a number of companies which specialise in making kitchen doors and can measure them to fit for you. Kitchen doors should either be wood or laminate and the shade should complement the worktop.

The worktop is the next thing to change and you need to consider both what colour you would want and what material to use. As with the kitchen doors, there are some specialist companies who just do worktops. They will measure up, refit the new worktop and take the old one away so it is relatively painless.

After the doors and the worktop, your next priority is the splashback tiles and the floors. With these it is good to get a contrasting colour so go for darker tiles if you have paler walls. If you have a small kitchen, think about painting the walls a light colour as this will give a feeling of space.

When considering how to do up your kitchen, make sure you only do works that will complement the value of your flat. If you spend a fortune on a kitchen in a one-bedroom flat then the improved kitchen won’t be fully reflected in the value of your flat and you won’t get your money back.

Alan Waxman is managing director at central London luxury property developer Landmass.