5 Design Ideas For Optimising Space In A 3-Room HDB

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How you can design a snazzy yet comfortable home despite not having the luxury of space

When it comes to conceptualising a design theme for your home, homeowners would know that there are quite a number of factors to consider, such as budget, lifestyle habits and of course, the floor space and layout of your home.

Given the compact nature of our HDBs, sometimes we grapple with what we can actually design for our homes. For instance, our 3-room HDBs go for an average of 646 – 732 sqft, and that will certainly affect what can or can not be incorporated into the interior. But fret not; you can certainly chart up a comfortable and well-designed home without compromising on quality.

Here are 5 design ideas for optimising space in small units.

1. Choose Functional and Practical Furniture

Naturally, the items that would take up the most space are bulky furniture – think of your sofa, bed, dining table, as well as any side furnishings like cupboards and countertops. And so, one way to optimise your space usage is to choose furniture that’s compact and practical.

Of course, this may not be the easiest of decisions, especially if you’re eyeing a particular look for your home! But if space is limited, then it’ll ultimately be better to go for something pragmatic that you can comfortably live with, rather than insisting on sticking with a particular design theme and then having to struggle with the challenges that come with it.

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One of the places around the home that often takes up the most space is the dining room. And so for this 3-room HDB at Alkaff Mansion, the homeowners decided to go for a small circular dining table rather than a traditional long rectangular one. Sure, this might mean that large dinner gatherings won’t be a thing…but at least there will be ample walking space on a daily basis.

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In fact, being small and compact can have its advantages. Here, with the clever use of warm lights strategically placed above the dining table and its surroundings, the dining area transforms into a cosy, intimate space where the homeowners can enjoy a nice meal, or a coffee to start the day. To spruce it up a little, you can also place a small centrepiece on the table – such as a plant or ornamental piece – just to add that little je ne sais quoi.

2. A doorway doesn’t need to have a door

Sometimes, all we need is a little illusion to create a whole new perception. 

One of the little tricks that you can employ to create the perception of having more space is to remove the door at certain doorways. This creates the illusion of a larger space, even though materially there isn’t any different. You can also play around with the shape of the doorway, such as having a higher arch or a broader width.

Unfortunately, one major trade-off is that you’ll have a lack of privacy. One way you can circumvent this is to have a sliding door that is “hidden” behind the wall, instead of a conventional hinged door. Else, consider removing doors only for common areas where privacy isn’t too much of a concern, such as a kitchen or study.

3. Explore ways to utilise unused space

Another living area that homeowners often struggle to optimise space is the bedrooms. Apart from just a bed, most of the time bedrooms often involve other furnishings such as a cupboard, side table, and possibly even a study table and/or chair.

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As such, one way to maximise the use of space is to see how you can better utilise ‘dead’ space – referring to unused space that would have otherwise been just left idle. For example, consider getting a bed that has a built-in storage function at the bottom like a pull-out drawer. This will essentially grant you more storage space, which might possibly mean a smaller cupboard. 

4. Use furnishings with efficient storage space

Moving away from the living room and bedroom, another space that can be renovated to look deceivingly spacious are the bathrooms. Granted, this is no mean feat, given that there isn’t too much flexibility in adjusting the layout of bathrooms since there are ‘fixed’ assets like water and drainage pipes.

That being said, there are still ways to maximise space. For instance, consider adding unseen storage solutions, such as shelving or a small cabinet behind a vanity mirror.

Instead of having a standalone sink, you can also opt for a sink that is integrated with a small cabinet. This not only hides the drainage pipe which most would find unsightly but also allows you to store items like toiletries. To further maximise space, you can add storage racks or stackable containers within the cabinet, to truly utilise all the space that’s available.

5. Consider using ‘hollow’ walls

If you’re slightly more adventurous, you can opt for a slightly different twist to your design theme to further create the illusion of having more space.

For this 3-room HDB in XX, the homeowners decided to go for a Japanese-inspired theme, with the living room area featuring traditional tatami mats instead of the usual sofa/chairs combination.

What immediately stands out when you first enter the home is how spacious the living room area is. This is achieved by the see-through wall feature that acts as a divider between the living room and the rest of the home; creating the impression that it’s a continuation of the space, rather than hard segregation. 

6. Optimising small spaces

While small apartments such as 3-room HDBs inherently pose challenges to the overall home’s design due to their limited floor space, it doesn’t mean that you have to settle for a theme that falls short of what you want for your home. With a few nifty tweaks here and there as well as being realistic about your expectations, you can still achieve a well-optimised design theme for your home that cleverly utilises the limited space you have.

Check out some of our other home design tips here:

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