Advice for planning a small home often includes tips for eliminating, paring down and, in the end, making major compromises. However, there are some things even the littlest homes should include. Here are eight essentials that are always worth making room for.
1. A drop zoneSmaller square footage might mean doing away with a formal entryway, but every home should have a space to decompress and neatly “drop” your things when you return home. Designate a little space by the front door with a table and hooks, perhaps, for storing your coat and keys. Some sort of seat like a stool or bench is also a nice addition as it serves as a place to sit while putting on shoes or if you’re waiting on others to leave. A mirror or grouping of framed photographs will provide a welcoming touch.
2. Smart lightingIn a small space, the lighting is often inadequate, as it tends to be assumed that a single fixture can properly light each area. In reality, good lighting can never come from just one source, so it’s always important to include a diverse palette of fixtures. Small-space solution: Use wall sconces. These will brighten your walls and add to the overall style of your house without taking up any square footage from your floor plan or table surfaces.
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3. A quiet place to get things doneIncorporating a designated work space in your home is a smart idea, especially when you’re in tight quarters. To accomplish this, think about how to sequester the space to make it private. You could plan ahead and build this area into your home’s floor plan, or it could just be a matter of finding a spot that feels comfortable before using a curtain or screen to section it off. It could also be as simple as incorporating a series of tall objects to create a “wall” around the space.
4. A real dining surfaceIn a small home — and even in a lot of today’s larger houses — you rarely find a dedicated dining room. This can make the house feel more comfortable and casual, but you should still incorporate a space for a proper sit-down meal that isn’t on your lap or at your coffee table. A smart way to include seating for meals is by tucking stools under a kitchen island, or you can try pushing a small dining table up against a wall or window to seat just a few diners.
5. Color, pattern and textureCommon interior design knowledge states that using lots of whites and neutrals in a smaller house will make the interior spaces feel more open and, ultimately, larger than they really are. But that doesn’t mean that all color and pattern should be strictly forbidden. Keep your small home feeling warm and cozy by including color, pattern and different textures in limited doses, such as an accent piece of furniture or through area rugs and throw pillows.
6. A comfortable place to sitWhen you’re working with a smaller square footage, it’s tempting to size down your furnishings, creating little seating areas all over your home. Instead, invest in at least one really comfortable full-sized place to sit and relax. This means a deep sofa or oversized armchairs over more modern designs. If space is truly a factor, opt for a settee or loveseat over a large couch. Also, to fit in extra occasional guests, have compact side chairs on hand that are only meant for sitting in for a few hours or you can even pull up an ottoman for added seating.
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7. Welcoming outdoor spacesA basic outdoor kitchen, with a grill, sink, countertop and petite fridge can cost as little as a few thousand dollars — far less than it would cost to build additional conditioned space — and the boost it can give your enjoyment of your cozy home is priceless. Even simple patio and deck spaces will draw you and your guests outdoors, putting less pressure on the accommodations of your home’s interior.
8. Space to breatheLastly, when decorating your small home, don’t forget to leave room for one very important thing: empty space. Filling every square inch of your walls and flooring with accessories and unneeded furniture leaves the space feeling cluttered and cramped. Let some walls remain empty, and keep lots of circulation space open so you can move about freely and really enjoy the square footage you have.
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