In the years before the housing market crashed in 2008, the prevailing notion in real estate was that bigger is always better. McMansions flourished in the suburbs throughout the eighties and nineties and even into the early 2000s. It wasn’t unusual for a single family to live in a 3,000 to 5,000 square foot home.
These days, more and more people are opting to get away from that living large lifestyle, and instead are embracing small spaces. The reasons for this are varied: some people are trying to be more fiscally responsible, some live in big cities where space is at a premium, some are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, and some enjoy the character of historic homes, which are typically smaller than new construction. Whatever your reasons though, you may find that living small can present some challenges. Here are some of our favorite common-sense solutions for making the most out of your small space.
Embrace Multifunctionality And Creativity
One of the most effective ways to maximize your small space is to make sure your furniture does double duty, or at least allows for some flexibility. Beds take up a lot of floor space that could be utilized in other practical ways. Lofted beds have gained a lot of popularity as of late, because by raising your bed up, you can gain more workable floorspace. Staging a desk and small work area underneath your lofted bed is a great way to maximize that new space you’ve gained by going vertical with your bed. This also works great for kids that are old enough to sleep in bunk beds: a lofted bed is about the same height as a top bunk, and kids can use the floorspace underneath to have a desk for homework, an arts and crafts area, or even just a simple play area.
Make Your Rooms Work In Multiple Ways
Ah, remember the good old days when you could have one or even two dedicated guest rooms, that sat virtually untouched between Grandma’s bi-annual visits? Those days are out of reach now for those of us who can’t justify leaving a room basically empty. Luckily, we have now come up with some great ways to create rooms that are warm and welcoming for guests, but which we can still use when we’re not entertaining people. Again, the bed tends to be the thing that eats up most of the usable space in a spare room. If you own your home, investing in a Murphy bed is a great option. It simply folds up into the wall whenever it’s not in use, leaving you with plenty of free floorspace. Use that room as an office, a den, or an exercise studio year round, and just clear the floor and pull the bed out from the wall when guests do arrive. If you’re renting, or are otherwise not prepared to commit to spending a few thousand dollars on a Murphy bed, a daybed is also a great option. You can find full-size daybeds, which can operate as kind of a big, cozy reading spot most of the time. Then, when guests come, clear off the extra backing pillows to gain not just one full-sized bed, but a second one which slides underneath. You can sleep a family of four in your yoga room with very little time or effort on your end.
Trick The Eye
It’s easy for small rooms to feel cluttered. That’s why it’s important to use a few simple tricks to make the space feel, well, spacious. Flooding a room with natural light is a simple way to make it feel larger: keeping paint color to a light or neutral color compounds that effect. You can also make a room feel almost double the size with mirrors. Placing one large mirror on a wall is a tried and true way to achieve that, but if you want to do it with a bit more flair, you can curate a whole wall of mirrors in funky, vintage frames. It’s also important to show restraint. If you love a particular design style like thrift store chic or French provincial, resist the urge to outfit your home in that style from head to toe. Using a few pieces that are indicative of a given style will help you capture the essence of the look without overwhelming the room.
You can still have big style even in a small space. Just follow our simple tips, and you’ll be living large in no time.