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.