Anyone who's ever been inside a caravan or motorhome will have been struck by how cleverly thought-through everything is. Each surface is optimally planned, there are storage spaces everywhere and lots of pieces of furniture have multiple functions. The seats have storage under them, the table can be lowered so that it forms a bed along with the sofa next to it, and tools, buckets and boxes are foldable to take up as little space as possible when not in use. Nothing is left to chance!
This way of thinking can also be used for houses that aren't on wheels, especially when furnishing small homes such as a garden house or garden room, where it's equally important to make good use of every inch of space.
Think outside the box
Perhaps the most important thing when furnishing small spaces is to think outside the box. Every piece of furniture that has two or more functions will help save space.
The most common multifunctional piece of furniture in Swedish homes is probably the sofa bed. It's practical when you have occasional night guests and want to be able to offer a comfortable place to sleep without having to carry a camp bed up from the basement (and also avoid the situation where it's in the way the 360 days a year it's not in use). When it's not needed for night-time use, you fold away the sofa bed and get a completely normal sofa.
Stackable stools are another clever solution for temporary needs. On those occasions when you have lots of guests, it's great to be able to conjure up extra seats, but it doesn't justify storing a lot of chairs when they're not needed.
Other flexible solutions include folding chairs and folding tables, which can easily be moved around and removed so that the interior always suits the occasion. Wall-mounted chairs and table tops that are screwed directly into the wall and folded out when they’re needed is another way of saving space.
Use the walls
Another key to perfect interior design in garden rooms and garden houses is to use space on walls and ceilings, not just on the floor. With cabinets and shelves along the walls, you get lots of extra storage space, which is almost always in short supply in a small house.
Bunk beds are another way of thinking in several layers and getting double the benefit of each square foot. A desk rarely or never extends up to the ceiling, so there's space for a bed, cupboard or wardrobe above it.
Corners are especially difficult to use smartly, but there are cabinets and shelves that are specially designed just for corners and provide maximum use of space. For example, the bathroom manufacturer Svedbergs has developed a specially designed corner washbasin with associated console and corner mirror cabinet so you can use this often overlooked area.
Tricks for small houses
In small houses it's easy to feel claustrophobic and that there's no room to move. Admittedly, there is something in that - you can't hold a dance class in a garden room. However, this cramped feeling can be conjured away quite easily.
Decorating with bright colours, for example, means that a space seems larger than it really is, and it doesn't take a lot of paint to stop it feeling grey and dull. That's one of the benefits of decorating small spaces.
Mirrors are another way of adding light while giving the illusion that the room is larger. If there are several people living in a garden house or garden room, draped material can help to screen off rooms and create a little privacy. Unlike walls, they can be easily taken down, folded and put away when not needed. It's worth repeating that thinking outside the box is a recurring theme for smart interior design in small houses.
It's also important to think carefully about the items you buy when you have a small space, but perhaps even more important is what you don't buy. With 15 or 25 square metres (161 or 269 square feet), you simply can't afford to fill the house with furniture and things that are 'sort of useful'.
There are lots of manufacturers who specialise in interior design for small houses. The caravan industry has a lot of items that also work in ordinary houses, and the small boat industry also has clever solutions for capacity challenges. But sometimes the requirement for furniture and fixtures is so precise both in terms of dimensions and function that the smartest thing is to do it yourself. It's usually the cheapest and the best way, not to mention the most fun.