When most of us picture our ‘dream home’ we imagine tons of space, a lovely large kitchen, huge garden and plenty of bedrooms. However, reality doesn’t always match up. Unless you have a whole lot of money in the bank, a much smaller and more modest home is more likely to be on the cards- especially if you live in a city where the house prices are more expensive. However, it doesn’t mean to say you can’t make the most of a smaller home, and with the right planning and execution it will not only look gorgeous but be practical too. Here are some of the ways you can ensure you’re making the most of your small house, bungalow or apartment.
Clean and Declutter
The first thing to do when you’re looking to make the most of the space in your home is too deep clean and declutter. When you’re only working with small rooms, you can’t afford to hang onto useless items. Get your hands on three big boxes and label them ‘bin’ ‘charity shop’ and ‘give to friends.’ That way when you’re undecided on an item, it can make it a little easier to make your choice. When things still work or are in good condition but you don’t use them it can be tempting to hang on. But if you know they’re going to a friend who will appreciate them more or to a charity shop which raises money for a good cause. You’ll also need to work out what of your possessions is seasonal. For example, some clothes and duvets are only going to be needed for half the year. Percale sheets and duvet covers are great for summer but come winter when you need something cozier you need somewhere to store them ready for the following spring. With everywhere clean and free of clutter you can get a much better idea with what kind of space you’re working with and what you want to do with it. Purging and decluttering needs to be an ongoing process too, with new things coming into the home all the time you’re always going to need to clear the old to make way for the new. This is something that everyone should be doing often anyway, but with a smaller home, it’s even more important to keep on top of it.
Paint in Light, Neutral Colors
Painting the walls in light, neutral colors will help the rooms feel much more spacious and bounce the natural light around. You will want to avoid bold colors and busy patterns on walls and floors since these can look overwhelming and make everywhere appear smaller. Neutral carpets or wooden floors work well if you do want to add some interest go with wallpaper just on the feature wall and cozy rugs on the floor. You can always bring in additional color with accessories such as cushions, curtains, throws, lamps, flowers, and artwork. When the rest of the decor is very neutral and calm, it does mean you can have some fun with other pieces in the room without it looking too chaotic in a small space.
Think About Storage Space
One of the biggest things to get right in a small home is storage space. Once you’ve got rid of clutter and the things you no longer need, storing the rest of your things should be a lot easier. If you own your home, one thing to consider is built in furniture. Custom pieces can be built in alcoves and in funny shaped rooms allowing you to fully maximize all the available space. Since built in cupboards are generally floor to ceiling the offer a massive amount of storage space, far more than regular standalone pieces. If you’re buying ready-made furniture, be sure to check the dimensions. Smaller rooms might need narrower or shallower pieces to fit correctly. Using shelves is a good way to give yourself some extra storage space too if you line up storage baskets along it helps to keep everything nice and neat. Shower caddies, tall and narrow drawers and corner units all work well in small bathrooms to help keep products tidy. In kitchens, you can find all kinds of useful storage pieces. A pull-out pantry could make the most of a small nook, or a trolley on wheels could fit between an appliance and the cupboard. A wall mounted spice rack keeps your herbs and spices together and easy to grab while freeing up cupboard space. You could even turn an empty corner or a cupboard under the stairs into a makeshift storage area for food or appliances you still use but not on a daily basis. That way you’re not fighting through a million things every time you open a kitchen drawer or cupboard. For living areas, how about using a storage ottoman to keep kids toys tidy? It will blend in with the rest of the room and can be used as an additional seat if you have friends over too. Multifunctional pieces are always a bonus when you live in a small home.
Sometimes the simple changes really are the best. All it might take is a shuffle of the furniture to make everything feel far roomier. Try moving your bed to the center of the room instead of up against a wall. A small bedside table complete with a lamp on each side adds balance and could make all the difference. Move sofas and chairs around, try furniture in another location or get rid of pieces altogether. If you have an ottoman, armchair or coffee table that’s never used how about omitting it entirely? Everything should be laid out in a way that makes sense- allows people to be able to move around. Without much floor space, avoid too many additional items on the floor. Instead of a large potted plant on the floor for example, how about a couple of smaller ones dotted around on a shelf or windowsill?
Light It Up
Small homes are vulnerable to look dark and dingy. Proper lighting can go a long way in improving the overall look. In the kitchen and bathroom you could go with spotlights in the ceiling, not only so these look sleek and modern but will be sure to illuminate the room evenly without any dark corners. For living spaces go with a good ceiling light (you want something that’s neither too small or too large) and a mixture of other lamps so you can tailor the light level depending on what you’re doing. A wall sconce or two, a large floor lamp and a couple of smaller table lamps will do the trick. When you live in a smaller home you often have to double up how you use rooms. For example, you might use the living room to relax and watch tv but also eat dinner. You might use your bedroom to sleep but also have a desk/ home office setup in the corner. The right lighting setup will allow you to adjust the brightness in the room depending on the task you’re doing. Other ways you can maximize the light is by hanging mirrors opposite windows. It will help to bounce daylight back in the room. Make sure the blinds or curtains you have up at the window are the best choices too. Going with a blind that can be easily adjusting to keep light out or let it in is a good choice. Then you can dress the window with a lightweight pair of curtains to finish the look.
Make Use of Every Nook
Do you have an alcove in the hallway or under the stairs where you could fit a desk? Do you have an airing cupboard that you could fit with shelves and make an incredible storage area? You could even buy a storage bed to give you room to fit additional things. If you own your home, you could even consider re-jigging the layout to maximize the space or going fully open plan. This has become a very popular way to live over recent years. It can make even a small house or apartment look much more spacious without walls downstairs boxing in individual rooms. You can still separate rooms into ‘zones’ with lighting and rugs which give you a definition and each area purpose without the need for light blocking and space hogging walls.
Just remember, there are lots of benefits to having a small home! It encourages interaction with the family, and it’s cheaper to run too. There’s also likely to be less maintenance required. While having extra space is a luxury if you’re smart about what you do have it’s not a necessity. When there are people out there living in converted transit vans or ‘Tiny Houses’ you’re sure to be able to get by in yours!
Do you have any tips for how to live well in a tiny property, and make the most of your home when you don’t have a whole lot of room to work with?