Maximizing Space in a Smaller Home
10 surefire ways to live large in close quarters
Article by Murray Arnott
Recently, I had the pleasure of touring a wonderful log home in Telluride, Colorado. I was particularly fond of it because in addition to its rugged charm, the living space was very well organized. When the real estate agent told me the square footage of the home, I was surprised. The place felt much larger than it was because the designer had used every inch of space so efficiently.
With efficient planning and some proven design principles, you can maximize your home's space too. And when you're done, the home not only will feel larger, but it will "act" larger. Here are 10 ideas to help you create an open, expansive feel.
1 Make every inch count.
Having lived in small cottages, I know it can be wonderful to inhabit a compact, well-designed space. Everything has a logical place and you can live and work easily within the given area.
To design a small home successfully you need to examine carefully how you live and what you live with. Ask yourself which rooms you spend the most time in. Move beyond simply thinking, "What would I like?" to "What do I need?" and "How can I use this space more effectively?" The answers to these questions will help you create work spaces, kitchens and bathrooms that are compact and efficient. For example, to create more space in a small kitchen, you might extend the cabinets to the ceiling and store rarely used items up high. And to maximize space elsewhere, you might limit the size of your bedrooms. They need not be small but they should not be gratuitously large either.
2 Eliminate Hallways.
Perhaps the simplest way to create more usable space is to reduce the number of hallways in your home. You can do this by grouping central entry areas, stairwells and rooms around a central core. This way, you merge isolated living spaces into a cohesive whole. If a hallway is unavoidable, maximize the usable space by designing in a recessed alcove or a built-in bookcase.
3 Add Built-ins.
The creative use of built-ins can save space normally occupied by furniture and closets and take advantage of areas that are otherwise unusable because of their size and shape makes furniture placement awkward.
Nooks and crannies can serve functional and attractive purposes. For example, a number of years ago while designing a very small kitchen space, I was given a challenge of displaying a large collection of knick-knacks. As a solution I removed the drywall between the partitions and recessed mirror-backed glass shelving within the stud spaces. It worked perfectly. You can create storage in even the smallest areas, including beneath stairs, above a stairwell, along-side the hearth or behind a false wall.
Custom built-in cabinetry is highly desirable but usually expensive. Fortunately there are a number of high-quality, off-the-shelf cabinet systems that use decorative finishing trim to achieve the look and feel of custom cabinetry at far less cost. Contractors can even use a combination of mass-produced and custom built-in units to truly accommodate your storage needs.
4 Create Intimate Spaces.
Even people who have large homes gravitate toward small cozy spaces. Intimate spaces meet the need for security and give more and varied spaces in which to live, without using valuable floor area. To create a cozy place in your home, consider an alcove for a bed or for reading, or a window seat off the kitchen so that guests can spend time with the chef without getting in the way.
This principle also extends beyond nooks, alcoves and bays to the primary rooms. For example, do you need a formal dining room if you only use it on holidays? Instead, you could design a more intimate eating area that can be expanded to accommodate infrequent large gatherings. Then you won't have an extra, often vacant room to furnish and dust.
5 Borrow Space.
With careful planning and proper room relationships, each space can borrow from the one next to it. In the simplest example, you could design an open space that houses the dining room and living room. They'll still serve separate purposes, but each will appear larger than it would if there were a solid partition between them.
Room orientation and furniture placement can take this concept a step further. You might arrange the furniture to extend your dining table into the living room for large gatherings or, conversely expand the living room into the dining room for entertaining.
Article previously published by Log Home Living