There is a steadily growing trend towards living in less space and enjoying it more! Tiny (less than 400 ft² / 37.2 m²) and small (less than 1000 ft² / 93 m²) homes, are gaining in popularity around the world. This post is focused on how to make your new small home seem bigger – with step-by-step tips and suggestions on how to do it. Check out the blog and Academy links at the end for even more information.
Whether you’re planning new construction, making modifications to an existing space or already have a small home, there are some basic organizational items to take care of. You should be working with an accurate 2D plan from the beginning. Check out this video, How to make a 2D plan, for lots of tips and tricks.
My sample home overall is about 700 ft² / 65 m², the home (blue) is about 200 ft² / 18.6 m² and the patio (green) is about 130 ft² / 12 m². The yellow arrows show the entrance.
When I started this project, I just jumped in and began putting in all the things I wanted to have. Oops! What I should have done is create a list of must-have functional spaces to work with and then determined priorities for the list of would-like-to-have relaxing-entertaining spaces. To help you avoid this situation here are some steps to follow:
1 – Water and electricity connections come first – Try to group them close together – hot water heater, kitchen, bath and toilet – and make sure that they are accessible for repairs. The same goes for your electrical circuit box. Sometimes hiding something in plain sight is the best choice, so my circuit box is right inside the entry door.
2 – Size and position your toilet and bathroom facilities next – It can be surprising how much space is needed.
3 – Sort out your heating and cooling options – I used lots of windows, in three rows of three for lots of air flow adjustment choices and to bring in as much natural light as possible. Each window has an outdoor built-in shade and an indoor adjustable shade to help moderate uncomfortable temperatures.
4 – Plan your storage needs – Every nook and cranny should be used. Work with every space you have; bureaus, cabinets, shelves, under the bed and over the bed. At the foot of this bed is a huge bureau with big drawers that will also help shelter the bed and provide a place to attach the TV. Right across from it is another smaller bureau to provide storage in a small unused corner.
5 – Add your bed – I’ve turned this bed into a storage gold mine by using the space underneath for slide-out storage boxes and adding a shelf above the bed for more slide-out storage drawers. There are sliding doors up top to help keep it looking neat and a moveable ladder to help reach the stored goodies.
6 – Plan your lighting – Try to use ceiling fixtures or lighting under shelves and cabinets to save room on your flat surfaces. In addition to the lights shown in yellow, there are lights under the range hood, over the bed and under each of the window shades outside. Make sure you use windows, window and more windows – they add light and help make the outdoors feel like it’s a big part of your home. They’ll also allow you to use more plants to help soften the overall decor.
What’s left is your leisure space – Determine your priorities – entertaining / cooking / relaxing / working – and go from there. You can at least be sure that you’ve covered the basic items and can now focus on things that you enjoy too.
Here are a few other tips to help make your smaller home into a polished little gem:
A – Use any space outside to gain more room – A terrace, balcony, patio, veranda or even a nicely detailed entry area can make a big difference. I’ve added about 130 ft² / 12 m² of wonderful entertainment and relaxation space by adding the covered patio.
B – Use sliding integrated doors (pocket doors) wherever possible – Remember not to hang anything on them. Because they slide into a pocket in the wall, they save lots of floor space since you don’t have to keep any areas clear for the swing of the door.
C – Use mirrors – They help give the impression of a larger space.
D – Use color and texture changes – White walls and objects looks bigger. Darker colors will make them seem smaller. In the kitchen I’ve used two white walls and two slightly textured and darker walls to make the space seem deeper. A big color change in the corner helps separate the home office from the rest of the room.
E – Use horizontal elements inside and out – They visually make your spaces look longer or wider. The bathroom has big base and crown moldings to help visually shorten the tall,narrow space. Outside, the dark feature at the base of the walls helps visually lengthen the home.
Enjoy yourself – One last image, thinking of a warm, breezy evening and getting ready for a night of entertaining and just plain having a good time!
– Links to blog posts
– Links to Academy articles
It’s your turn!