One of the most interesting trends in real estate these days is the move towards smaller floor plans. In fact, buyers are opting for location and amenities over bigger square footage, and builders are responding in kind. From the Tiny House Movement to seriously cool but small urban dwellings, our living spaces have less square footage these days than ten years ago.
Of course, that may be nothing new for people who live in older homes already, as many homes built in the 1940s through 1960s – especially here in Sacramento – are big on charm but a little pinched on square footage.
But none of that means you have to sacrifice utility, convenience or even fun, as there are plenty of creative ways to make great use of the space you already have. Here are our first 10 seriously cool small space hacks, and look for more in parts two and three of this blog.
You may not be able to double the size of your room cheaply and easily, but adding a mirror makes any room look far larger than its true size, creating the perception of more space while also reflecting natural light. You can angle a mirror towards a window or focal point like a fireplace, dining table or large plant to give the room more depth.
Mirrors don’t just have to hang in your living room, either, as they can cover kitchen backsplashes, whole walls, spaces up to the ceiling, entire sides of narrow hallways, or creatively used as decorations, all making your home look bigger.
Storage between the studs
Back in the 1940s and 50s, homes were built much smaller so storage space was at a premium. For that reason, they often had narrow spaces built into the walls just between the studs that housed the ironing board. When you needed it, you simply brought it down into place and then put it back up when done. If you’re in a small house now, just think of the possibilities for additional storage space by utilizing the areas in between your studs!
I bet you have at least one sizable sofa in your house, and chances are you have couches and oversized chairs. But behind each and every one of them right now sits…wasted space. Make good use of it with a narrow table that can hold drinks, food, lights, books, or even add stools for a coffee bar type sitting area for sofas with their backs to the room.
Boring stairwell turned cool nook
Staircases are necessary (unless you have an elevator!) but they sure do take up a lot of space. But you can maximize the area under your landing by opening it up and making a cute little reading nook, attach a small door for a doggie hangout, or just an additional space for storage. If the back of your landing is exposed, you can make lockers or cubbies between the studs and add a bench for an instant mudroom.
Do you have a twin, queen or even king–sized bed? How many beds are in your house? That’s a whole lot of wasted space in small homes, but you can make efficient use of it with built-in drawers and shelving. They make specially sized racks for under beds that easily roll out or, at the very least, you can use plastic storage bins to hide shoes and out of season clothing.
Shelving across a window
When you want to hang shelves or dress up small rooms, you’re limited to the wall space around your windows. But whether it’s a diminutive bedroom or cramped kitchen, there’s a great way to include your window areas into “living space.” Just add floating shelves across the span of the window for a great effect. Clear glass or rustic wood shelves work great for this, and you’ll be wondering why people haven’t done this for decades.
Keep a cohesive color scheme
Is your kitchen painted off-white, your living room tan, and your hallway a nice sage green, with multi-colored furniture and decorations to mix it up even more? When someone sees all of these different paints and shades, it instantly chops up the house and makes it appear much smaller. Instead, try painting all the walls and even trim the same color, with the same tone for furniture. It may seem a little “vanilla,” but keeping the same cohesive color will actually make your space appear way larger. You’ll want to stick with an off-white or very light shade for this effect, but any color that you do put in these rooms will really pop.
Small kitchens may be short on counter space and cabinets, but one thing they all have is unused wall space. So to make good use of those empty backsplashes or even wall areas, mount magnetic strips and then you can line up your knives, big spoons and other utensils, or even pots and pans.
Rolling kitchen island
So you don’t have room for a center island or breakfast bar in your kitchen but you REALLY want one? There’s an easy solution – just pick up a nice rolling kitchen “island” that can be easily kept in the corner and brought out for parties, big dinners, or whenever else it’s convenient. They make them all different sizes and heights, with bar stools to match, and with butcher block or even granite tops.
This isn’t your grandma's Murphy bed
Beds take up a lot of space, dominating most studio apartments, dorm rooms, and lofts, and cramped bedrooms. But what’s old is new with the resurgence of Murphy beds, which are made a lot sturdier, easier to install and more creative than models from yesteryear. Just by folding your bed back up into the wall, your spare bedroom can now be a place to sleep for guests AND a workout room or office.