Breaking Boundaries: 9 Clever Ideas for Flexible Living Spaces
Blurred lines, clear benefits.
For the majority of us living in small apartments, fully utilising the limited square footage we have requires thinking outside the box. And here’s a surefire way to do so: demarcate your living spaces loosely.
Meaning, hack away walls that physically separate each room and: 1) keep the space open for a mix of uses or 2) replace them with partitions that can be opened or closed depending on the occasion.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll look specifically at how blurring the lines between the living room and its adjacent areas can get you an airier, larger living room when the need arises – all while remaining a distinctive space in its own right.
Curious to find out more? Scroll for 9 examples in real life.
1. When living in a small home, make your bed your sofa
At first glance, this looks like a regular 3- or 4-room BTO with a decently sized living room.
View this project by The Makers Design Studio
Plot twist: this is in fact a tiny 2-room BTO in Bidadari, where the walls of its lone bedroom were hacked away for a completely open space. The owners also did away with a regular sofa, and opted for a sofa bed that pulls double-duty. Where exactly does the bedroom start and end? But does it even matter? We think not.
2. Go for indoor-outdoor vibes
View this project by Key Concept
If you’re a fan of Selling Sunset, the term ‘indoor-outdoor’ would be familiar to you. Here’s the good news: the concept isn’t limited to large mansions in L.A.’s Sunset Strip.
Peep this eclectic resale HDB flat in Bukit Panjang, where regular sliding doors have been replaced with foldable glass ones that open up (fully) to a balcony filled with plants.
Straddling between the living room and balcony, you’ll find a cafe-style setup for a nice cuppa while watching over young ones in a playpen. Doing so means that every square inch of ‘in-between space’ is maximised; plus, the owners get to enjoy outdoor vibes while remaining in the shade.
3. Or… keep it breezy (but still private)
View this project by Authors • Interior & Styling
In a similar setup but one with a stronger retro vibe, this resale HDB flat in Bedok went with rotating wood-framed rattan doors and an emerald-tiled coffee counter in the balcony. Aesthetics aside, such doors also let the breeze in 24/7, without sacrificing privacy.
4. Want a large living room? Extend it into your balcony
We’ll admit: despite looking at renovation projects all day, we initially assumed this was a condo just because of how massive it looks. To our surprise, it’s a DBSS at Boon Keng where the owners extended the living room into the (rather large) balcony, complete with a sofa and coffee table setup to soak up the view.
View this project by Space Atelier
Props for how the living room’s marble tiles continue past the foldable glass doors for a seamless transition into the balcony – truly blurring the lines between each space.
5. A mixed-use space that can be opened up for large gatherings
View this project by Ciseern
Free of any furniture, the spare room adjacent to the living room of this resale HDB flat in Tampines can be used as a gym, a toddler’s play area and more (the possibilities are endless, really). When needed, its L-shaped partition can be opened up completely as an extended living area, great for hosting large gatherings for guests to mingle in a single, continuous space.
Bonus points for the floor-to-ceiling mirrors that make the space look bigger than it already is.
Explore: 13 Ways to Use Mirrors to Make Your Home Look Bigger
6. A semi-private entertainment area
With a background in architecture, the owner of this 5-room BTO at Punggol Northshore knew exactly how to showcase the full length of his waterfront apartment – by creating a strong axis that bisects the flat from one end to the other.
View this project by Salt Studio
And along this axis is a junior bedroom that was converted to a semi-private entertainment area. Having hacked away an L-shaped section of the walls, the result is a cosy demarcated space that affords privacy from onlookers at the main door, but also one that flows seamlessly into the other communal areas.
Aside from gaming and television, this entertainment area – together with the island counter next to it – doubles up as a spot for guests to casually mingle before/after meals at the formal dining area. No more awkwardly standing around, thank you.
Explore: Punggol 5-Room BTO Flat Becomes Scenic Waterfront Home After Makeover
7. Be in different rooms, but not distant
In this rooftop condo unit, a foldable paned glass partition gives its owners the option of having the master and living room as one airy, seamless space. This means that even though you and your loved ones may be hanging out in (technically) different rooms, you’ll still feel close to one another.
View this project by Urban Home Design 二本設計家
Alternatively, continue watching the television while your better half closes the partition and heads to bed undisturbed. As the saying goes, happy wife, happy life.
8. A full-fledged open-concept space, when you need it to be
View this project by Dyel Design
Or, take things a step further by combining the living room, bedroom and kitchen into one massive open-concept space. As this 139 sqm resale flat in Ang Mo Kio proves, even homes that are relatively large can always do with looking and feeling more spacious. Plus, you’ll get to wake up to the smell of your significant other making coffee (try naming a better perk-me-up!).
Don’t want fumes to permeate your bedroom when cooking? No worries, just shut the partition!
9. A platform balcony with no doors
Adopting the same approach as some of the other homes we’ve looked at, the balcony of this resale flat in Ang Mo Kio has been transformed into a relaxation corner – except it has no doors.
View this project by Insight.Out Studio
On one hand, it serves as an extension of the living room that’s fitted with the exact same vinyl flooring. On the other hand, it’s a space that’s visibly set apart from the living room, raised on a platform and framed with an arched wall in place of a door.
Now this is how you define room boundaries loosely.
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