Living in a smaller space seems like it is becoming a popular trend, particularly for millennials and empty nesters. More and more, we at Hoskins Interior Design are getting calls from homeowners looking to maximize a small house rather than spread out into a traditional large home. For us, we use the same design principals for small spaces as large ones. What changes is the precision which must be applied as there is less room for each element. Each bit of space must be maximized for both functionality and aesthetics to ensure the home is comfortable for those who live there.
Creating Functionality in a Small House:
A space is functional if it supports the way you live, and this functionality is the key to your happiness with your small space. Every one of us uses our home differently, so if you have purchased a house designed around someone else’s life, chances are it will not suit you. Don’t be afraid to make changes, like taking out a bunch of drawers in a bathroom because you need shelving instead. Just because an element looks nice and worked for the previous owner does not mean it is appropriate for you!
Kitchens and bathrooms tend to cause the greatest amount of angst when it comes to designing for a small home. Below we offer some ideas to consider for your project:
Designing for a Small Kitchen
We promise—big cooks can live happily in a small house. All it takes is planning. You will want to consider the flow you need to prepare dishes and allow guests or family to hang out with you. However, what will really lead to your culinary dream is maximizing your storage. Our design approach begins with figuring out which tools and gadgets the cook will be using most, and making sure they are accessible within arm’s reach. Rarely-used items can be stored in low or high cabinets that require bending down or a step-stool.
The secret to storage is using your vertical space wisely. We take the upper cabinets all the way up to the ceiling in small kitchens, and are methodical about the types of cabinets we choose. How many drawers are needed? How many shelves? What exactly needs to be stored in each? We work with expert cabinet makers to ensure we take advantage of the specific styles available to maximize the guts of the cabinetry.
For example, we are currently designing a kitchen remodel in a small home located in Broad Ripple. The homeowner is an avid cook and was asking about how we could include a good-sized pantry in his new space. His existing 24” deep pantry is not helpful as the items in the back get lost. We plan to install fold-out cabinet inserts instead which will triple the amount of available storage and keep all items within sight.
Other opportunities to customize the insides of cabinetry include sliding inserts that allow for double storage in utensil drawers, vertically-oriented spice racks that nest within a bank of cabinets, appliance-specific cabinets such as those for standing mixers, and pull out shelving which really helps with the scary stuff hidden under your sink. There is no dead space allowed in a small kitchen!
Designing for a Small Bathroom
Americans love their large, spa-inspired bathrooms. However, we can create a similar feeling of serenity in a small bathroom as well. The key again is understanding how you function in the space. Do you need a lot of drawers or does shelving work better for your morning and evening rituals? What size bottles do you tend to use? Do you need to store hair dryers, curling irons, electric shavers, etc.? Just like for a kitchen, there are specialty cabinet options designed to address bathroom storage needs. Creating a logical place for all your accouterments will make your time in the space more enjoyable.
One space homeowners tend to forget about in the bathroom is within the walls. Updated medicine cabinets can be installed into a wall, offering additional hidden shelving space. We can also build open shallow shelving into a wall, or create niches in a shower.
Unlike in a large space, you may have to weigh the importance of the amenities you would like in your small bathroom. If there is a tub in another bathroom in the house, you may want to opt for a large shower instead of having both. If soaking is a large part of your life, then creating a shower/bath design may be a better route. Finally, if you plan to stay in the house for a long time, we suggest planning for the future by adding elements that accommodate limited mobility as you age.
Creating a Beautiful Small Home:
Being comfortable in your smaller space is not just about functionality—the style has to suit you as well. Whether a home “looks right” or not has a lot to do with scale. The furniture you purchased for your large home will most likely not suit the smaller space. With the popularity of tiny homes has come a growth in the amount of “apartment-sized” furniture. Take advantage of these options to ensure your space does not look too full.
In a large space, there is more room for superfluous pieces of furniture—pieces that you love but are not necessarily comfortable. In a small home, each item has an important role both stylistically and functionally. It is important to choose your furniture carefully, maximizing comfort and usability. Your interior designer will be able to find the perfect pieces to support both your style and the way you live.
Choosing color wisely can help you space feel more comfortable as well. Lighter colors and tonal schemes allow the walls to recede, making a room feel more spacious. Then you can add pops of color for visual interest without creating a claustrophobic feeling.
Finally, another secret to designing a beautiful small home is to take advantage of multi-functional furniture. For example, there are console tables that have flip up table tops that can be used as another dining table or activity space when needed. We also love to include ottomans in small spaces for their opportunities to create visual interest, but also as extra seating.
At Hoskins Interior Design, we believe good design is always important, but it is especially crucial to the success of small homes. You have fewer options and less opportunity to implement your design scheme, so each element must be carefully planned. We are enjoying the growth in smaller living. The challenges these projects offer have made our problem-solving and creative skills even better. We’d love to help you design your space, large or small. Send us an email, or give us a call at 317. 253.8986.
Combining old-world style with a more modern look lends personality to an interior design scheme. We look for opportunities to add unexpected twists in all of our designs, though it can be particularly fun in a traditional home. We included a pair of this chair pictured here in a classically styled basement remodel. Our clients had a “dead wall” next to a broad opening that led into the main entertainment area of their lower level. Since the walls were already lined with art, we wanted to place a different design element in the space. We spotted these chairs at Market one year, which inspired their inclusion in this design scheme. The Scalamandré fabric complements the creams, blacks and deep reds within the space and brings that unexpected whimsy to the design. French Louis XVI inspired chairs have a lovely silhouette and introduce to the sophisticated style of the rest of the home into the lower level. The chairs make quite the impression as one enters the space, which was our intention!
How have you combined classic and modern style in your home? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Thanks!
Purchasing custom furniture for your home comes down to one idea – complexity. There are a lot of decisions to be made, from the look and functionality of each piece to how the collection works together to support the overall design scheme. At Hoskins Interior Design, we approach these decisions objectively, setting the design criteria for each piece. Size, scale, fabric, quality, comfort, finish – there are many objectives that furniture must meet in a design plan. As experienced interior designers, we have tried and true relationships with custom furniture manufacturers that will create pieces to meet all of our needs. Shopping from catalogs or showroom floors means your furniture will most likely fulfill only one or two of your criteria. Why settle for less when custom furniture will give you exactly what you desire within your design budget?
Tips on Buying Custom Furniture:
1) Begin with a generic furniture plan – Designing your pieces to complete your design concept is the first step in understanding how your furniture will need to look and function in the space. Keeping the whole picture in mind ensures you will make choices based around how each piece relates to and balances each other as well as the other design elements in the space, such as architectural details. There are a lot of moving parts in a full design scheme, and making a change to one aspect will affect the rest of the space. Coming into your furniture choices with a full understanding of what you need will help you make better decisions.
2) Choose fabric first – Once the furniture plan is set, it is time to hunt for fabric as it can be the most difficult element to find. With the many choices in the material, color, pattern, texture and finish available, the options seem endless! You will need to sift through all of those decisions to find fabrics that fulfill all of the needs of the design concept. Furniture stores and catalogs are limited in their choices. Fortunately, for our clients, our custom furniture manufacturers allow us to go outside of their fabric options to create a custom look.
3) Consider form – Understanding the role of each piece of furniture is key to choosing the correct form. Each piece serves a different function in the design scheme – some are meant to be comfortable because of how they will be used, while others are meant to be visually impactful over anything else. Knowing why that piece is in the space helps narrow your options. Shape, size, silhouette, upholstered, etc. are all elements of form that will need to be considered.
4) Choose the appropriate scale – The scale of furniture refers to its size relative to the space it will occupy, as well as how it relates to the other pieces in the room. Achieving appropriate scale is one of the most challenging aspects of interior design. Our expertise allows us to see beyond the look of the furniture to strike a balance between all of the elements and principles of design in the overall space. The big picture is always in mind, and requires us to analyze each piece, juxtaposing varying sizes, lines and heft to achieve the intended look.
5) Quality is Key – In furniture, quality goes beyond construction. It is the attention to details, the tailoring, that makes a quality piece stand out in a space. Not only is custom furniture made well and comfortable, it is also beautiful. The cushions do not flatten out quickly, and the fabric lines blend perfectly. It is the level of quality our clients receive that serves as a testament to the tried and true relationships we have with our suppliers.
6) Make sure it’s comfortable – There is little point to buying furniture you plan to use that is uncomfortable! Although a piece may look great on the showroom floor, it may be completely wrong for the people who will be sitting in it. Going custom allows you to create furniture with its intended use and users in mind. For example, if a sofa is meant for family TV time, you will want a high back and three cushions so no one gets stuck in the middle crack. Shorter people need shallow seat depths so their feet can touch the floor when they sit. Occasional chairs set for short conversations can be designed more for visual interest than long-term seating. Apply ergonomics to your design, ensuring the pieces will function well for their intended use. Custom furniture also provides the opportunity to choose the material used to fill cushions to avoid allergies, as well as the amount used to ensure desired comfort.
Custom furniture allows you to achieve both aesthetics and functionality without compromising on the criteria each piece is meant to fulfill in a design scheme. Your choices are not about liking a piece of furniture in a vacuum. Each piece has to relate to the big picture for the space. Homeowners do not have access to the resources available to interior designers, so we encourage you to engage a professional to assist you with your furniture plan. Check out our blog post, Yes Virginia, You Can Buy Furniture Without Sitting In It First, for more information on how to approach buying custom furniture. We are always available to answer questions or offer advice. Send us an email, or give us a call at 317.253.8986.