12 Small House Design Tips

Filed in Design and Decor by on December 27, 2016



By Alicia Underlee Nelson


Whether you’re building new or remodeling a small space, sometimes less is more. Here are several easy ways to do more with less.


1. Go High


Extend ceilings high as possible to create the illusion of space. A shed or gabled ceiling is a charming addition to a small home with a traditional design. For a more industrial look, try an exposed ceiling. It makes wooden beams, pipes and ductwork statement pieces and you gain a little headroom in the process.


2. Draw the Eye Up


If you can’t physically extend or remove the ceiling, do what you can to draw the eye upward. Remove crown moldings, paint the ceiling and the walls the same color for a continuous line and used recessed lighting to minimize visual distractions.


3. Use Walls For Storage


Reduce counter top clutter and the need for drawer space by using wall space artful storage. Install beautiful shelves to showcase books, art and collections and keep the eye moving vertically. If need to store items out in the open in boxes, make sure they’re aesthetically pleasing so they read as part of the décor, not clutter.


Kitchens have lots of additional vertical storage opportunities. Hang pots, pans and much-used utensils on a pegboard or a pot rack, install wall-mounted wine racks and showcase dishes in attractive, open shelves.



4. Do Double Duty


Everything in a small home should be able to be used for at least two purposes – and ideally more. Make sure furniture can multitask. A kitchen table can serve as a sewing room, craft space, homework center or home office, while a couch can convert into a reading nook or a guest room.


5. Get Creative With Storage


Great shelves are a good start, but don’t be afraid to use every nook and cranny. Stylish trunks and storage ottomans double as seating. It’s easy to stash out-of-season items in bags and slim storage containers that can be tucked into the space underneath and behind beds and couches.


If you are blessed with a closet with a door, take advantage of every inch. Extend shelving from the floor the ceiling, consider extra rods so you can hang more items or hang an over-the- door storage on the inside of the door to hold small items.



6. Maximize Natural Light


Add as many windows to your small house as possible. Consider making them larger or extending them higher than usual, or placing smaller windows in dark corners or adding skylights. Natural light is a mood booster and the outdoor views extend the living space and bring nature in.


If you can’t add more windows, make the ones you do have a focal point. Install minimalistic blinds and push them all the way up when they’re not in use.


7. Edit


Even the strongest, boldest design choices will be less striking if a home is overwhelmed by clutter. Everything in a tiny home must be both beautiful and functional, since there’s nowhere to hide. If an object hasn’t been used in a year, if it can’t serve at least two purposes or if it doesn’t make you happy, pass it on.


8. Select Showstoppers


Display space is at a premium in a small home, so don’t settle for anything less than a showstopper. It’s better to have one fantastic painting, sculpture, light source or accent wall than to divide the focus among a few mediocre options that you don’t really respond to.


But if you have lots of art or items you love, don’t despair. A gallery wall or a shelf of similar objects can make a strong statement. And they’re especially eye-popping in a small house.


9. Keep A Low Profile


Choosing low-slung furniture, cabinets and countertops maximizes wall space and showcases window views. It also tricks the eye and the mind into thinking the room is taller (and bigger) than it actually is.



10. Fold It Down:


Steal a trick from camper design and install fold-down furniture in different zones in the home. Desks and tables are most often used in this manner, but a fold down bench can be useful for extra seating, to serve as a tiny, impromptu mudroom in an entryway or to expand table space during a party.


If you can’t build this into a home’s design, it’s easy to retrofit a room with this space-saving solution. If you’re handy, you can even do it yourself. It just takes a few hinges and a locking mechanism.


11. Add An Outdoor Living Space


Even in the Midwest, yards, patios, sunrooms and gardens can expand a home’s living space during three out of the four seasons. And the outdoor space doesn’t need to be huge to make a big impact.


Make a hammock or a comfortable chair into a cozy reading nook or grow herbs and container-friendly vegetables on the patio or balcony. Like to entertain? Invest in a fire pit, cushions or folding lawn chair and a grill and you’re set.


12. Think Monochromatic


Light, bright neutrals like white, cream and ivory are classic choices to make a room look bigger and brighter. But taupe and gray are modern choices that work well too.


The truly daring can try muted blue, mysterious black, chocolaty brown or rich aubergine for a luscious and unexpected look. If you extend the color throughout the space, on the walls, cabinets and even the floor, it blurs the lines of the room and makes it feel more expansive.

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