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February 9, 2015

Smart Design Ideas for Smaller Homes

by Kim

Smart Design Ideas.png

While the average size of the American home has gotten bigger, for certain demographics – baby boomers and young families – the trend toward smaller homes is growing.

And it’s not all that surprising. Smaller homes cost less to buy, heat, decorate and maintain. They also tend to be more environmentally friendly. Plus, they’re a better fit for a streamlined lifestyle that puts more emphasis on activities and community.

If you’re considering downsizing or are looking for a place that will minimize your carbon footprint, here are some design tips for getting the most out of your petite dwelling.

Make Space Count with Smart Design

Reconfigure the Layout
When you’re working with minimal space, it’s important to maximize square footage. For an older home, this might mean a design fix. Vintage homes often have solid construction and a lot of charm, but can feel cramped because they were built with lots of little rooms that have specific functions. Reconfiguring your layout with an open concept plan allows you to make the most out of available space, letting in more light and allowing the space to be used for multiple purposes.

Farmhouse Kitchen by Portland Interior Designers & Decorators Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
Aim High

Vaulted ceilings are not just for large homes. Increasing the ceiling height makes any room appear bigger, helping the space feel less cramped. And don’t worry if adding overhead space exposes beams and piping – these industrial elements make great design features.

Transparency is Key
To create the illusion of space, small homes are using windows in a big way. Sunlight makes a home feel more spacious, so large windows and skylights are an important design element in tiny abodes. Floor-to-ceiling glass, such as a moving glass wall system or French doors, can create a fluid connection between an indoor living area and an outdoor living space. Whether you have a wall of glass or a bank of large windows, custom window treatments are a must. They address many of the functional issues that come with having large windows, including privacy, light filtering, and energy efficiency.

Encourage Multitasking
In addition to making the most of available square footage and outdoor space, a smart home embraces concepts like the “flex room,” a space designed to serve multiple purposes. For instance, a single area can be used as an office, playroom, and guest room. By furnishing the room with a desk, attractive sleeper sofa, and clever toy storage, you can easily transition the room from one use to the next.

Embrace Energy Smart Style

It’s no secret that smaller homes are more efficient than big ones, but these days it’s not just because there’s less square footage to heat and light. From eco-friendly building materials to small, smart appliances and efficiency-focused technology, there are a number of ways to put the latest developments to work in a smaller space.

Incorporate Recycled and Reclaimed Materials
Did you know that you can buy insulation made from recycled denim? Or that new countertop materials include recycled paper and glass? Reclaimed or recycled materials are replacing conventional building supplies at record rates, offering stylish and eco-friendly solutions to homeowners that value sustainability. Bonus: these new materials often last longer and perform better than traditional alternatives, providing a greater return on investment!

Regulate You Home’s Temperature
Regulating your home’s climate can have a real impact on your carbon footprint, not to mention your wallet. That’s why it’s important to invest in improvements for the long term. For instances, one of the fastest ways to regulate your home’s temperature is to install energy efficient window treatments that help insulate and retain heat in the winter and reflect sunlight for a cooler home in the summer.

Hunter Douglas Solera® Soft Shades
Hunter Douglas Solera® Soft Shades

Choose Compact and Energy Efficient Appliances
Smaller homes require smaller appliances, but that doesn’t mean you need to compromise on features. Electronics are increasingly more efficient and advanced, requiring a much small footprint to perform the same task. For example, point-of-use tankless water heaters (about the size of a sandwich box) can be installed directly under your sink and boast unlimited hot water. Or opt for a high-efficiency washer/dryer combo. This all-in-one appliance is great for homeowners who don’t have the space for two separate machines.

This is the first post in our two-part series entitled, “Smaller Homes for Greater Efficiency.” Mark your calendar – part two in this series will publish March 3!

Cover Photo Credit (clockwise): Ira Lippke, Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc., Pickell Architecture, Ruby Architects, Inc.

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AuthorProfile

Kim

Kim is a window treatment and drapery certified designer helping clients in Ottawa and surrounding Ontario communities find the perfect window treatments for their homes. She has more than 14 years of experience in interior design and window coverings.

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