Make your small home feel the rightsize
Add on – make a bigger box
Most advice on gaining space suggests adding on in some way, through extensions, loft conversions, basement conversions, etc. All of these methods are doing the same thing, they are boosting the size of the box that you call home.
Squash more stuff in the box
The other sort of advice is on how to get more of your belongings in the space, for example by adding storage or buying multi-purpose furniture. But what do you do when you can’t add and you are worried that just adding storage will make your home feel cramped?
Rearrange the box
This under explored area of rearranging your space actually contains a wealth of possibilities.My own experiencesFor many years I have had an interest in gardens and garden design but my interest in interiors only began when I was looking to address issues with my own home.
Keep the same size box, but increase the usable space, by rearranging the layout of the box.
My own experiences
When we bought the house, we liked the area and thought the house “would do”. It didn’t exactly ooze potential but I felt we could do something. It felt like it should be big enough.
After living in the house for a while we were clearer about the problems, which actually made the house less suitable than I had thought, these included:
- No space to eat in the kitchen
- A living space that was too small to be living and dining room combined
- Doors, windows and radiators preventing good furniture layout
- Bedroom layouts where it wasn’t easy to place the bed
- Lack of bathroom facilities for some bedrooms
We knew we needed to alter the house (and probably quite radically) but extending wasn’t an option.
I sought advice from a number of architects, but this just led to frustration and disappointment when they each came back with the same sort of idea, “There isn’t much to be done here, except extend…..one even suggested maybe we should buy another house! (Clearly moving costs and stamp duty don’t exist in his world).
Undeterred I set about doing my own research on what actually could be done. I found my attention drawn into the works of Sarah Susanka. Her ‘Not So Big’ titles and the principles inside them really inspired me to minimise wasted space and to make the most of what space we had. To this end, I drew up my own designs for my home.
So here are my top 5 techniques to maximise the space
- Move walls
- Remove walls
- Alter external windows & doors
- Alter doors & doorways
- Create views and movement flows
There are so many ways to use these ideas that it would take too long to cover them here. I will be talking about these more in future blogs and books. So for now, just be prepared to look at your space with new optimism and sign up for my future blogs.