Property: Short on space? Welcome to the fold

At home/the squeeze
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Indy Lifestyle Online
A few days ago property mania reached what most non-Londoners would consider an all-time peak of silliness when a "studio" little bigger than an airing cupboard sold for pounds 72,500. Rosalind Russell considers how a home that size can be furnished.

Even though it has a fancy address in Egerton Gardens, Knightsbridge, the lease on the studio has less than 18 years to run. At 10ft 9ins by 10ft 9ins - including kitchenette and shower cubicle - the studio is destined to be used as staff accommodation. Presumably by someone who has no friends, as it would be a tight squeeze to have anyone round for a meal. Or would it? A lack of space in most modern homes has encouraged designers to produce furniture and fittings that make the most of what we have.

Double-function furniture makes a space seem more than it is. The Scorpio unit by Stompa cleverly combines a bunk bed with a pull-out double sofa bed beneath, plus a desk. The unit costs from pounds 849, depending on finish. From the same firm, the Uno unit combines a bunk bed with a chair underneath, pulling out to a single bed, with a bigger desk which can take a PC. It costs from pounds 700.

Homebase's troll clip spotlight (pounds 9.99) would fit on neatly, taking up less room than a desk or bedside light, or its floor chrome-effect spotlight can make itself very slim and inconspicuous at pounds 34.99.

Habitat's Slumber is not a pull-out, but a sofa with a proper sprung mattress, with bolster cushions. It is covered with pique cotton in ink, moss green or yellow at pounds 449, or more if you choose a made to order fabric. A similar idea, but very ornate, is a folding cast-iron bed from Pukka Palace (pounds 295 without the mattress).

Another ingenious Pukka offering is a library chair which folds over to turn into a set of steps (pounds 128). Habitat's Lorelei folding chairs have a metal frame with resin slats and come in cheery orange, green, blue or white, at pounds 35 each and look smart with the Lennox folding table. Seating four when extended, it can fold to put against the wall and costs pounds 199.

With such as tiny space, you do not want to lose wall space to a radiator. Myson's Kickspace 600 is as powerful as a radiator, but fits neatly in the dead space beneath a kitchen or bathroom unit. With a flick of a switch, in summer it blows out cool air instead of warm. It comes in a variety of colours and finishes, including stainless steel and costs from pounds 135.

Habitat's Lily kitchen range of free-standing units works on the principle of a work surface with adjustable legs allowing a washing machine or dishwasher to be fitted in alongside cupboards. Prices start at pounds 95 for a worktop. Bhs makes a wooden kitchen cart on castors which can be moved around easily, but also provides an impressive amount of useful extras, like pull-out board, drawer, removable tray, towel rail, enclosed knife block, storage shelf and six bottle wine rack. It is delivered fully assembled, with a tin of wood treatment oil, via the mail order catalogue at pounds 150.

Joanna Wood, an interior designer who has worked for the Garrick Club and the Grosvenor Estate, has no time for the timid approach.

"I would build everything in to make it look like a study with fake bookcases along the walls," she suggests. "It would be very James Bond: you press a button and the fake bookcases come down to reveal the bed and the tiny fridge (to keep the champagne in). It is quite easy to buy these from builder's merchants." Colours, she says, should be bold, strong blues, yellow and lots of white. "I wouldn't do all neutral because then the room really would look like a shoebox. It should be very masculine, very Ralph Lauren with paisley, plaids and plains. With modern low voltage ceiling lights and a large mirror opposite the window, you get lots of light."

Stompa 01274 596885; Homebase 0645 801 800; Myson 0345 697509; Habitat 0645 334437; Pukka Palace 01588 672999; Bhs mail order catalologue.

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