There’s an art to small space living. Balancing the functionality of family life with creativity and colour is a skill many of us attempt to master in our everyday. Moving her family of four into a self-contained studio in the garden of her latest renovation project, award-winning Interior Designer Sofie Hepworth knows a thing or two about tiny house design.
Renovating a Victorian coach house just as the pandemic hit back in 2020, Sofie decided to set her interior sights on a much smaller scale. “It became clear through the process that we would be unable to live in the house whilst the work was being done. We knew that a garden studio was an investment but one that would pay off in the long run as the tiny house would stay forever, adding value to the house, housing friends and family when they stay and ultimately becoming my home office! It was a big ask, to make 450sqft work for a family of four but I was up for the challenge!”
Designed with a kitchen, bathroom, home office and two bedrooms, imagination was key to transforming this small garden space. “One of the best optical illusions we invested in was to take the internal ceiling height to 3 metres. This was over the ‘permitted planning’ rules, meaning we had to put in for full planning for our garden studio. This took 8 weeks but is 100% worth it. It makes any small space feel SO much bigger and allowed us to build heaps of storage using all the vertical space to our advantage,” Sofie explains.
Before beginning her small living adventure, Sofie, aka @threeboysandapinkbath, needed to lay down the groundwork (literally!). “Ground screws are so important to consider when creating any additional space. They are quicker, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than a traditional concrete poured foundation!” advises Sofie. “My top tip, though, for those thinking about doing similar is to first head to their local planning pages,” says Sofie. “I scoured every application for stand-alone annexes with bathrooms and kitchens in my local area to see if they were getting approved. Some areas you are unlikely to get planning as councils don’t want people subletting, but I could see lots of examples of similar applications in my area. I used these approved applications as the basis to create my own applications.”
Sofie’s top small living design features
A DIY Murphy bed: It became clear very quickly that we would be hard pressed to fit two-bedroom pods in the space (our initial intention). So, we had to think about other ways of fitting in two beds for our children and a king size bed for us! We settled upon a DIY murphy bed that opens out into the office space. We designed it unusually, so the door opens into the room rather than the traditional door that pulls down. This creates some privacy, a bedroom ‘nook’ so if one of us is staying up later than the other whomever is in bed is shielded from the light and noise.
Bunkbed pods: The kids’ bedroom is just 2 x 2 metre but incredibly it is packed with storage, and they absolutely love it! Building your own bunkbeds incorporated draws underneath and filling the space you have entirely is the most effective way of creating the tiniest of bedrooms and I think it’s pretty cute too!
Sofa castors: This simple addition has transformed the way we can use our small space especially with our kids! Not only was this a super easy thing to do (we bought castors online designed for this and with a hand drill the castors were fitted in 5 mins or so) but having an adaptable home in this way is the future if you ask me. It means we can move the sofa into 4 different locations which opens up the living room if we want to exercise, play or have a bunch of people working in the space! Also, we can wheel our sofa out onto the deck which is a lot of fun!
Providing a sneak peek of her garden studio to her 89.2k followers, Sofie introduces her Costello sofa as the inspiration for the entire design of the space. “I find the best way to come up with a scheme is to start with one item and work from there adding in colours and textures as you go! So, I started with the sofa and kept adding colours that complimented the yellow! The Costello sofa is comfy, compact, and contemporary so it was the perfect choice! The Costello sofa has that perfect blend of contemporary and classic, its squarer arm suits my contemporary style over a more traditional rounded arm sofa which suit a more classic look,” Sofie says. “I am a huge lover of colour as you can see from my design, so as soon as I saw the bright yellow fabric, I knew that was the one.”
A queen of colour and creative style, ensuring her tiny home didn’t lack her own personal stamp was paramount to the Interior Stylist. Achieving her signature pops of pink, yellow, and blue, Sofie explains that she owes much of her small home styling success to her own DIY skills: “I would say the single most important thing that helped us achieve the balance between practically and style, was making all our furniture. When designing a small space, putting colour on walls is risky, really you want light white walls and ceilings to make the space look as large as possible (I love white walls anyway!) so I knew that I would need to add all my colour in soft furnishings and furniture.
“Aside from our amazing yellow velvet sofa, all other furniture in the space was designed by me and built from scratch. This just meant every last CM of space is used and everything in the space has multifunctional elements which could never have been achieved with off-the shelf furniture. Once the furniture was built, I was able to add my colourful signature style using paint, again not something that could have been achieved by buying furniture,” Sofie explains.
Showing us the possibilities of small space living, Sofie also takes us through how she maximised her entire space by adopting indoor-outdoor interior design. Creating a little piece of paradise with her tropical-inspired bathroom, set outside and surrounded by an urban jungle of plants and biophilic design, Sofie provides us with her top tips for one of this season’s most popular interior trends. “My advice on achieving and indoor-outdoor feel is plants, plants, plants! Adding house plants to your home will instantly bring the outdoors in (plus is great for your air quality too!). In addition to that, you are looking to bring in as much natural light as possible, think about roof lights, French or bifold doors and creating seamless lines between outside and in so that the boundary between your interiors and exteriors are blurred as soon as those doors are opened,” says Sofie.
Changing the game when it comes to small house interior design, Sofie’s tiny haven acts as a reminder that anything is possible when it comes to creating your dream home, no matter how big or small. All it takes is a little bit of imagination!
Inspired by Sofie’s small living? Check out her Instagram @threeboysandapinkbath for all the latest updates on her tiny adventure