The Small Space Question

I visited a very good friend of mine a while ago at her hostel in one of Nigeria’s popular universities. This building irked me for many reasons:

  1. It was ugly
  2. There was no consideration for comfort in the design
  3. Too much concrete (in the wrong places)
  4. It was UGLY!!!

Needless to say I brought it up with my friend who is a Landscape Architecture graduate student and she agreed. For her it was a temporary option she tried not to think about.

To her credit she and her roommate worked hard to make it a better space – painting, re-arranging furniture, etc. And the next time I saw the room (well, pictures actually) I was really impressed with the difference.

But then being the compulsive ‘furniture – re-arranger’ that I am, I thought to myself, “If they had a little more money budgeted, what could I do to make it better? And thus a blog post was created.

The Dilemma

The Dilemma – Current layout of my friend’s room
The Dilemma – Current layout of my friend’s room

The entire room including the bathroom is just about 3.6m2 and is supposed to take 2 people. Residents/Tenants/Sardines are expected to provide their own cupboards/wardrobes and electronics etc.

The ‘bathroom’ is basically a toilet room with a shower head fixed to a wall. You have to place your sponge case on the toilet seat cover to have a bath. Because of the cupboard placement, getting into the room and bathroom is a bit of a problem as the cupboards do not allow the full swing of the door leaves.

The shoe rack makes it tough to get to the bed further inside the room but there really isn’t a better space for it with this system.

The Option

Option – showing relocated furniture
Option – showing relocated furniture

My solution was to place the beds side-by-side with what I like to call a ‘sideboard’ in the middle. It really is not the best but it creates the illusion of privacy while freeing up space for other functions. The wardrobes were relocated and the electronics placed between them. The shoe rack was also moved to another wall and I included a wall hook system above for bags, belts and such.

Option – Perspective View
Option – Perspective View

I also included a Shoji screen to form a subconscious demarcation between the spaces. This split is further emphasized by the floor finish which depending on the budget can be linoleum with a wood floor look, tatami (mats) or real wood flooring.

Materials used to achieve this include:

Shoji screens – these can be made by a carpenter as it really is the principle of demarcation that is important

‘Sideboard’ – which is basically a headboard on the side

Flooring – which depending on the budget can be linoleum with a wood floor look, tatami (mats) or real wood flooring.

Wall hooks – For added storage

If I had a magic wand

So what would I do differently if I was the landlord/owner/ruler of Fairyland?

And I only needed a little fairy dust – Ideal Option
And I only needed a little fairy dust – Ideal Option

This space really should not be housing two people. It is a small space and not ideal for long term living especially for really finnicky room mates. So, my ideal space would be for one person. I would extend the toilet to include a proper shower tray and sink/vanity as well as the toilet. A tall built in wardrobe makes the most of a small room by creating more storage space. In my ideal design for the same space, the front door is relocated and the flooring for the room area is much different.

Ideal – showing wardrobes and shoe rack
Ideal – showing wardrobes and shoe rack

Also note a smaller taller shoe rack which can do double duty as a bookcase.


We should never take the spaces we live in for granted – they are a major influence on our moods from when we wake up.

The dictionary defines shelter as something beneath, behind, or within which a person, animal or thing is protected from storms, missiles, adverse conditions, etc. and home as a house, apartment or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household.

Stay tuned for more easy, practical solutions to make your life even more comfortable.

Until later, Peace, Love and T-squares!


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