In a RIBA survey carried out in 2009, 58% of new homeowners complained that there wasn’t enough space for their furniture or new potential pieces and 70% highlighted the lack of storage. It’s also worth noting that the average UK home is 2% smaller than it was just a decade ago – those are the problems, but what’s the solution? Modern times have called for inventive solutions, which is actually proving to be an inspirational force for creatives. We caught up with one of these creatives in our recent interview with Olga Alexeeva, a Russian interior designer who has spent the last 8 years living and working in London. With over 10 years experience in the field, Olga now runs a successful business helping people get the most from their compact spaces.
How did you get into interior design?
I graduated from the Chelsea college of Art and Design in 2010 where I studied Interior and Spatial Design. It was always my passion to create functional and beautiful places for people to live in. In Russia I studied decoration – a method of dressing that doesn’t have much effect on a space overall. That’s why I decided to study Spatial Design in London.
How did you end up founding the interior design business Black & Milk Residential?
My first ever project was a tiny 25sqm flat in the City which I successfully transformed into a multi-functional studio. I got a big response from the public on this project and that’s how everything started. Now I specialise in both small spaces and high end residential sectors: the high end projects earn me a living and the development of the small properties are an enjoyable side note.
What project are you working on now?
I have a few ongoing projects at the moment: two High end houses in Hampstead, one in Chelsea and the development of a small one bedroom flat in the city.
What are your experiences of living in a small flat?
When I moved to London I couldn’t afford to rent a large flat, so I moved into a tiny one bedroom in Spitalfield market. I’m used to small spaces, though – in Russia everyone lived in tiny standard flats. I grew weary of living there as the Russian market at that time didn’t allow for creativity.
The biggest challenges facing small homeowners is having multi-functional areas and finding a place for their belongings. Inviting friends round can be a problem too, as it’s a challenge to host a lot of people in a small space.
Can you give small homeowners some tips on how to make their space seem larger?
Being an interior designer, I’m always building the perfect solution for each individual flat. Some flats are better with small scale furniture that’s suspended to maximise the floor area. Other flats are better with the low lounge grounded furniture. But a large rug that covers almost the whole floor space is a must. Small rugs look strange and disconnect the room.
What’s your opinion on “hiding” furniture?
It may be costly but I prefer uncluttered spaces, I always try to hide all belongings in closed storage solutions. Smart multi-functional furniture is the key to the comfortable living in a small space – a Murphy bed is an excellent solution. The best storage has a bespoke fit in joinery along the walls. I try to avoid open shelves to keep a clean look.
What are your tips on how to organise entryways?
My favourite solution is a shoe rack. It hides away clutter and takes up very little room