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Space Planning: 5 Rooms for a Small Floor Plan

Want to squeeze more space out of your small floor plan without adding a single square foot? We'll show you how — no sleight of hand required.

  Photo by energepic.com / Pexels


There are times in life when we all want something more. More time, more freedom, more ice cream. When you're building a home, the desire for something more often translates into a craving for more space. But before you even think about piling pricey square footage onto your floor plan, consider this: Often the key to finding that extra space isn't about adding it; it's about working creatively with what you already have.

Our editors take you room by room through your future log and timber home and show you creative ways to make your small space feel larger than life. From thoughtful users of color to features that can pull double duty, you'll see that carving out extra room doesn't require magical feats or tons of cash. Plus, all that money you'll save by not adding needless square footage? Means more ice cream. 


Great Room/Dining Area

Uniformity is dull, especially in a small space. To provide visual interest, varied window openings mirror the shapes of the walls. Instead of blocking the traffic flow, an angled fireplace stands out of the way and serves as a visual anchor for the room. The "offset" positioning makes it possible to watch TV (stored inside the cabinet) and enjoy the fire simultaneously.

Built-ins are a popular option for smaller homes, but don't discount freestanding cabinetry. Not only does it save space, it also breaks up the monotony of white walls. Anchoring the six-person dining table within an open space allows it to be expanded easily for large gatherings that spill into the great room and adjoining kitchen. An oriental rug serves as a visual break from the coziness of the great room. When storage is at a premium, built-in closets along the expanse of the kitchen, dining and great rooms can provide invaluable hideaways. The 7-foot walls, complete with molding and storage above, also add visual dimension to the space. 



To keep a small kitchen from feeling that way, it's important to delineate the space without closing it off from other areas. To define the kitchen's parameters, gray-and-sand-colored slate tile is paired with fixed width wood planks finished in the same stain as the cabinetry. Periodically inserting glass panels into the cabinet doors breaks up the solid-wood look of a bank of cabinetry and showcases interesting dishware and collectibles. An "over the range" microwave helps keep counters free from clutter. Because it's fitted with an exhaust vent, it's two appliances in one — an aspect that's both efficient and money-saving. Properly placed windows are important in any room, but they're essential in one that's on the small side. Here, natural light is allowed to stream into the kitchen, thanks to uninterrupted panes of glass and a lack of view-blocking window treatments. A backsplash lined with simple 4-inch square tile in milky white helps circulate light around the room while creating a clean, streamlined backdrop for stainless steel appliances (also a reflective surface) and the unadorned Shaker style of the cabinetry.


See also 5 Ways to Create a Kitchen Office 


Primary Bedroom

Carefully selected textures and patterns, including floral curtains, a quilted bedspread, wainscoting — even the pattern of the window panes — pull the focus away from the size of a smaller primary bedroom and give it the illusion of depth. Sunlight makes everything better — sliding glass doors and a row of windows on the perpendicular wall open up the space to plenty of natural light (floor-to-ceiling curtains filter it out when it's time to sleep) as well as a view of the treetops for an essential connection to nature.

Even when furnishings are minimal, they still can make a decorative statement. The slim lines of the Victorian-inspired four-poster bed and wingback chair are a great alternative to bulky sleigh beds and the popular chair and a half — both of which could easily overpower this space. Who says color is a bad design choice in small rooms? Chosen wisely, wall color won't detract from your space; rather, it will inject life and interest, and make your timbers stand out even more. Pale green is a particularly good choice for the bedroom — in the color spectrum, it's easiest on the eye. Don't waste valuable upper-level space on cathedral ceilings. When you have a small design, bring your ceiling down. This is especially advantageous in the bedroom, where cozy, people-sized nooks are much more conducive to a good night's sleep. 


Primary Bath

All of the textures in this room — wood, tile, drywall, woven baskets, fluffy towels and rugs — add depth to the small space. The eye has so many points to focus on that it makes the area seem roomier. Making a house seem like a home is all in the details.

Architectural elements, like wainscoting, trusses and reclaimed wood floors, bring this cozy bathroom to life without adding square footage. Let the light shine in by incorporating a large window. This one has a casement style that makes it easy to open and close from the tub, and decorative colored grilles add interest to the design. By anchoring the tub under a slope that's too steep for head clearance, not an inch of space is wasted.

Plus, the oversized tile surround provides spots for towels, candles and shampoo bottles, ensuring that bath accessories don't end up on the floor. Built-in storage pieces are a great way to make the most of your bathroom. This cabinet is multifunctional: It offers great-looking storage while taking up space that would otherwise be wasted due to the ceiling's steep pitch.


See also 15 Tips For Getting the Most From a Small Log Home


Guest Bedroom

In a small home, it's all about making spaces pull double duty. A Murphy bed, hidden behind faux cabinet doors, can easily be pulled down to accommodate extra guests or be tucked away when it's not needed. It's crucial to use every inch of wall space you have in a small room.

Build up, instead of out, with wall-mounted shelving units. By leaving them open, you'll have easy access to anything you might need. Incorporating a built-in desk, rather than opting for a freestanding piece of furniture, will allow you to include as much storage as you need (think cabinets and drawers underneath) without taking up too much of the room's floor space.

Just because you may not use your guest bedroom every day doesn't mean you should ignore its decor. In this room, pictures, books and other collectibles are displayed, making the most of the space while helping it feel like a finished room. Wooden accents in honey hues and plush carpeting keep a guest room/office from feeling vacant or unwelcoming. Instead, these warm, comforting materials will instantly make anyone feel at home, even in a small space. 


Outdoor Room

The light from your hearth will provide a nice glow after the sun goes down, but additional light sources can make your outdoor room extra cozy. Candle-filled chandeliers and sconces are both luxurious and low maintenance.

Not in the market for a full-scale outdoor kitchen? Create the illusion by pairing a portable gas grill with a small bar that can provide convenient counter space. A crackling fire that serves as both a focal point and a gathering place is essential for making an outdoor room feel like home. To get the most out of your space, consider an indoor/outdoor hearth that can service your great room or master bedroom, too. (Check with your builder first, though, to make sure this is practical for your climate.)

Before you begin decorating it, consider how you'll want to use your outdoor room. If you envision enjoying as many meals as possible under the stars, bring in a dining table and chairs. Picturing evenings spent chatting by the fire? Furnish your outdoor room with a cozy grouping of lounge chairs instead. Don't skimp on furniture! Your outdoor room should be a place where you go to relax, and plastic patio furniture won't exactly make it inviting. Consider investing in cushions covered in all-weather fabrics to provide a setting where you can spend hours.

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