You can garner tips from Gale Steves’ new book,Right-Sizing Your Home: How to Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle, recently profiled in Green House.There’s also Sarah Susanka‘s Not So Big Remodeling, published last year, and Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s recentApartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces.
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Also quite helpful are nine design tricks for maximizing small spaces offered by Jenny Sullivan, senior editor of Builder Magazine. I’m using many of these tricks in building my ultra-efficient home, including pocket doors, skylights, open floorplan, multi-use rooms and indoor-outdoor living. Here’s Sullivan’s list:
- Go for pocket doors. A pocket or wall-mounted sliding door can yield 10 square feet of usable space that would otherwise by taken up by clearance on a swinging door. These nifty little space-savers can be particularly handy for closing off kitchen pantries, storage closets, computer niches, or even entire rooms.
- Improve circulation. Hallways tend to eat up precious square footage and can make a small house feel cramped. The good news is you probably don’t need them, seeing as how today’s casual lifestyles are conducive to open floor plans with fewer interior walls. When communal zones such as the kitchen, dining and living area flow together, narrow passageways are unnecessary.
- Build secret hideaways. Rule number one in making a wee space feel larger? Reduce visual clutter. Think about how to exploit wall cavities and other nooks and crannies to create clever hiding spots for things such as trash, recycling, canned goods, linens and seating.
- Aim high. You can do a lot with a tiny footprint if you think vertical. The mini-lofts of Olympic Studios are only 375 square feet each, but they feel pretty spacious, thanks to 17-foot ceilings and clerestory metal sash windows.
- Create memory points. The great thing about small spaces is that little touches can go a long way–particularly quirky little gems that fall at eye level, such as antique drawer pulls, a banister of reclaimed wood or an artsy door knocker.
- Say no to claustrophobia. There are ways to delineate functional areas in a small plan without resorting to closed-up drywall….
- Worship the sun. Natural daylighting can have a transformative effect in the tiniest and most awkward of spaces. Skylights (can) do the trick….
- Use it or lose it. Formal living rooms and dining rooms are dust collectors that more and more buyers seem willing to forgo in the new era of efficiency. Single-use rooms are giving way to flexible realms that do double or triple duty. Consider the kitchen island that facilitates food prep, casual dining, homework and happy hour. Or the study that morphs into a painting studio or sleeping porch.
- Bring the outside in. Architect Darrell Russell’s custom-built Florida home is a tidy 1,000 square feet, but it doesn’t skimp on views. The big windows were a splurge, yes, but … they deliver… sight lines that extend far outside the house and into the lush landscape. The result is a small envelope that costs less to air-condition and maintain, but offers the feeling of openness and light.