Recently I worked out that my flat, according to the admittedly rather inaccurate measuring method of pacing out the floor and measuring the length of my feet, is about 320 square feet, or 30 square metres. In the USA that would be grounds for articles in Apartment Therapy and maybe a viral YouTube video but I think it’s a fairly common size of home for one person in the UK. I’m always looking out for ideas of how to optimise my space, and realised this evening that I had inadvertently hit on the perfect rule for furniture-buying without ever articulating it.
If it doesn’t add storage space, it’s not coming into my flat
Aside from the kitchen table and chairs, which the landlord provided (along with the chest of drawers, but that of course does add a lot of storage), every item of furniture in my flat stores things in, on or under itself. Some do all three! My bed is not just a sleeping place for me and Paige, it’s also home to all my bed linen, my towels, my spare bedding and airbeds, and still has space for more. My compact desk looks like it was made to measure – my university files fit perfectly on the base, all my paperwork is organised in hanging files in the cabinet drawer, I even have a little alcove for coloured pencils and a clipboard, which I use when I’m reviewing my lectures notes and fancy a change of scene.
My most recent acquisition is probably the epitome of this approach to furnishing. I had felt its lack for a while, although it wasn’t until my mum and stepdad visited a few weekends ago that we pinpointed what I needed to add to the kitchen space: a dresser! Initially I was thinking about a waist-height sideboard of some kind, but when I went to my trusty local charity furniture shop I was drawn to a large wooden Welsh dresser. It was quite expensive, though, and I wasn’t wowed by it. I decided to mull it over and go back a few days later. If it was gone, then clearly it wasn’t meant to be. If it was still there, I’d make a decision.
When I went back it was indeed still there, but something new had arrived and this time I was wowed. It was cheaper, better quality to my ill-educated eye, and it was just prettier. Also very slightly larger but it would still fit. I bought it immediately and arranged to have it delivered later in the week, then spent the interim days squealing excitedly to friends and family about how awesome it was going to be.
And it is! It has finally solved the space problem I had in the kitchen: I still need to do a proper reorganisation of all the cupboards and drawers, but with all my crockery shifted onto the dresser I have an entire extra cupboard to fill with food and can actually arrange things so that I can see what I have rather than shoving desperately and hoping for the best. As an added bonus, all my cookery books have moved to a more sensible location which frees up valuable shelf space on the bookcase in my office nook. (My mum will be pleased – she’s had boxes of my books cluttering up the spare bedroom for the last five years).
Not only does it bring a lot of storage space and look lovely to boot, my new favourite item was just what I needed on that wall to make the distinction between kitchen and living room clear. I’ve actually found myself spending more time at the kitchen table, not just to eat but also to work or read, because that end of the flat feels like my home now. Maybe it was less welcoming before because I hadn’t chosen any of the fittings – the kitchen was obviously pre-installed, the table whilst perfectly functional and inoffensive is not mine – but the dresser, and the serrendipitously-colour matched curtains which my mum made for my brother originally (the only thing in this flat that wasn’t second or even third hand is my Argos bookcase; best way to furnish on a budget is to make sure someone else paid for everything first), are mine.
There are loads of other cunning little storage spaces in this flat, but I’ll save those for another day. For now I’m enjoying sneaking peeks at my lovely dresser, admiring the pretty poster (it’s the first two verses of Psalm 121, my favourite) and looking forward to when my mum has made the quilted topper she’s planning to go under my crockery. I think I’ve officially run out of room for furniture now!