Maximizing Your Space in a Small House

Some people choose to downsize into a small space, some people just end up in one. Whichever your situation is, there are plenty of ways to make the best use of your space. Giving extra attention to elements like lighting, color, and how you arrange the space can make a difference between a house that feels cramped and uncomfortable and a home that feels uncluttered and spacious.

Here are some ideas for making the most of your small home:

Curate your space.
Small space dwellers need to be ruthless with what they keep and don’t keep. If an item is not beautiful or functional (and ideally, both), get rid of it. Keep in mind that every items you eliminate gains you an equivalent volume of free space. Keep possession accumulation under control by making a rule that every time you bring a new thing in, an old thing needs to go out.

living roomTake advantage of pieces that do double duty.
Look for furnishing and storage pieces that will work hard for you. Try a coffee table or an ottoman with storage inside for blankets or books. Use book cases or a storage unit as a room divider to create and designate separate living spaces and provide much-needed extra closet space.

Use flexible furnishings.
Put furniture on casters. Coffee tables, chairs, tables, and even beds can be put on wheels so you can move them around depending on your needs. A dining table with leaves offers more flexibility as do chairs or tables that can be folded and stowed out the way. Put a bench with storage space at an entryway to provide extra seating and quick stowage for coats and umbrellas.

Find hidden space.
Examine your house with an eye to uncover hidden space. A spot under stairs can work as an office, spaces around and over doors can house shelving and places under kitchen cabinets can store everything from built-in appliances to hanging wine glasses or coffee cups. Maximize the space under beds with storage drawers on casters to store off-season and other infrequently used items. Find nooks between wall beams for small, recessed storage spots like a bathroom cabinet or small bedroom storage area.

Repurpose space to suit your needs.
There’s no rule that you have to use rooms for what they were built to be. If you don’t use a formal dining room, make it into something you will use like a playroom, workspace, or sitting room. Turn a closet into a mini-office with storage. Turn a bedroom into a den/guest room with a fold-out couch instead of a bed. Make outdoor spaces part of your living space by putting out plush chairs for seating, a big sturdy table for outdoor dinners and lighting to extend use of your “room” into the evening.

Bring in the light.
Light will make rooms seem more spacious so take advantage of natural light by not blocking windows and using minimalist window treatments. If the existing lighting isn’t adequate, bring in extra lighting to lighten dark corners and accentuate interesting architectural features. Using open shelving or glass cabinet doors in a kitchen or living room can also create the feeling of a lighter space.

Create space through color and materials.
A monochromatic palette, especially one comprised of light colors, will make a space feel more expansive. Using the same flooring throughout the house will also extend the feeling of spaciousness. Embrace a minimalist sensibility by finding furniture with clean lines and simple fabrics and avoiding clutter throughout the space.

Create the illusion of space.
Float furniture in a room instead of pushing it against the walls. Bring window treatments all the way to the ceiling, even if the window doesn’t go all the way up – it will give the room a feeling of height. Don’t block sight lines to the outdoors or to other rooms, and don’t forget the old trick of using a well-placed mirror to create the illusion of space.

Go smaller.
Figure out if smaller, apartment-sized versions of refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and washer/dryers might work for you. Use a love seat instead of full-sized couch or a smaller bed. Go entirely digital on music, photos, and movies. You can also downsize on media equipment, coffee tables, and side tables.

Go vertical.
Instead of only taking your square footage into consideration, think of your space in three-dimensional terms, as a volume of space. Vertical space can be put into use for hanging bikes, holding higher-than-usual shelving, or storing chairs on the wall Shaker-style.

Final Thought
Small spaces offer their own pleasures that large spaces often can’t. A small space can save you money, be gentler on the environment, and serve as part of living a simpler, pared-down life. And with a few creative tweaks and tricks, there’s no reason your small space can’t have a big feel.

Renee West
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Renee West

I'm a real estate broker associate in Newport Beach & Corona del Mar, CA, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.
Contact me at (714) 914 9060 or renee@bhhscdm.com for all you real estate wants and needs.
Renee West
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