Home Reno: Measurements to know when designing and furnishing your space

The math of small space design – it’s all about the dimensions! Here are the measurements to take note of, when it comes to efficient design for small spaces.

Everything is a squeeze in small spaces but if you get the dimensions right in your rooms, your little space can be a comfortable haven. Arm yourself with your floor plan and a ruler and we’ll go through certain numbers and dimensions you need to know while shopping for your remodeling project.

Sofa: 25 cm breathing space on each side

Illustrations by Angela Soh

When measuring the wall that your sofa will be placed against, ensure that not only is there enough space for your new sofa but also at least 25cm on each side of the couch for breathing space.

“If you’re planning for your sofa to fit perfectly in that space, your sofa will look and feel crammed and uncomfortable,” says Ben Hou, retail manager for furniture retailer OM. Ben also reminds homeowners that the space will also have to accommodate your curtains, which will take up 10–15cm of wall space.

Pendant lamps: 30cm clearance

First consider the height of your ceiling when hanging your lamp(s) and then ensure that there is enough clearance for people using that space. You should provide at least 30 cm clearance for someone to stand comfortably without hitting his or her head.

Hanging a pendant lamp too high up isn’t aesthetically pleasing either. Plan for the lamp to cover up to 20 percent of the ceiling height for the space to look balanced. If you have a rectangular table below the lamp, you may wish to install more hanging pendant lamps over the table.

Dining table: 60 is the magic number

Dining area. Illustrations by Angela Soh

A well-balanced, proportional dining table usually comes in the standard size of 180 x 90cm. For small spaces, this size is a luxury owners can ill afford. “You need at least 60cm in length for a person to feel comfortable eating at the dining table,” Ben says.

Bearing that in mind, you can shop for a dining table with a minimum 60cm length with extendable options whenever you have guests over. With placement, 60cm is also the dimension of choice between the dining table and the wall so that you can pull out a chair and slide in comfortably.

Coffee table: 30 + 45

Living room. Illustrations by Angela Soh

Make sure there is enough legroom between your coffee table and your sofa when you sit down. Ben reckons 30cm is the bare minimum space you should allow for. On the other side of the coffee table, you should allow for at least 40–45 cm between the table and the TV console so that you’ll be able to pull open your coffee table or console drawers.

Sinks & Faucets: The Perfect Permutation

Illustrations by Angela Soh

Consider the usage of your wash area before selecting your faucet and sink. For example, will you be using the area to brush your teeth or to fill a large pot of water?

For the former, you’ll prefer a lower faucet spout to bathroom sink height so that it will create less splash, i.e. a lower faucet height in a deeper basin.

For the latter, you’ll prefer a higher faucet height coupled with an undermount basin for a larger range of motions without bumping into the handles. If you have an overhanging cabinet with a standard bathroom countertop height of about 80cm, you’ll have a smaller range of faucets to select from.

Floor tiles: The trendy 80 x 80

Illustrations by Angela Soh

To get away from the uniform HDB look, homeowners now go for larger tile sizes than the typically supplied 60 x 60 cm. “People don’t like grout lines,” says Wee Geck Ying, Senior Business Development Executive for Hafary, a tiles supplier, “and more are opting for 80 x 80 cm tile sizes.” If you want even bigger sizes, you need to see if your living space can accommodate them.

For example, if you can only lay a handful of 60 x 180 cm tiles in a small space, the room will just look awkward. Also remember that bigger tile sizes not only cost more per sqft, the labour cost to lay each tile is also higher since since two men will be required to lay each tile right.

Bathroom flooring: 30 x 30 is safer

Bathroom tiles. Illustrations by Angela Soh

Grout lines are your friends when it comes to the bathroom, as they will help to make your floor slip resistant. Therefore large tile sizes should be avoided. Also, note that any type of flooring is going to be slippery when it comes into contact with water.

If you would like to avoid the typical HDB supplied 30 x 30 cm bathroom tiles, you can opt for sizes of up to the 30 x 60 cm varieties. Anything bigger is not recommended. Smaller tile sizes will also make it easier for your contractor to level a slope to the floor drain.