5 Ways to Make a Small House “Bigger”

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Photo courtesy of FabCab Architects for Prefabulous Small Houses, published by Taunton Press

People often build houses that are larger than what they really need to hold all of their “stuff”. The problem with many homes is the accumulation of too many things, rather than the lack of space. Artist Hans Hofman once said: “The ability to simplify means eliminating the unnecessary so that the necessary can speak. When it comes to houses, when you get rid of all the excess, you can enjoy things that can be put away or just hidden in the clutter.

There are certain elements that will make this little house more comfortable and bigger than it is. When you are downsizing or just looking to live in a smaller house, there are aspects to consider to make the small house feel bigger. Some of these elements need to be integrated, like high ceilings, but others can be added, like storage.


Photo courtesy of Stillwater Dwellings for Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid, published by Abrams.

Many people these days are opting to build smaller homes because they prefer a lower price that comes with a smaller footprint, along with less maintenance and lower utility bills. Others choose to live in smaller homes because they care about the earth and want to limit the footprint they make on the planet. Whatever the reason, these tiny homes are popping up across the country as code-compliant homes, accessory living units, and tiny homes. People are finding that having less square footage doesn’t mean the home will be less comfortable.


Photo courtesy of Michael Biondo Photography fo Prefabulous Small Houses, published by Taunton Press

One of the most important features that any small home needs is plenty of storage. Although square footage may be limited, everyone needs a place to put all their “stuff”. There are many creative ways to include storage in any room. Integrated elements can come in a multitude of different ways. Shelves can be added in most rooms. Companies such as Californian Cabinets design space to provide the maximum amount of storage. For DIY enthusiasts, components are available at places such as IKEA and the Container store where parts can be purchased and easily assembled. Kitchens can also be designed to maximize storage space with cabinets and shelves.

In rental housing, furniture can provide the necessary storage space. Coffee tables are available with openings for storage and hutches and chests, and decorative trunks can all provide storage. Storage units of all types are now available at an affordable price, from cabinets and shelves to kitchen and bathroom storage units.


Photo courtesy of Patrick Barta Photography for Pefabulous Small Houses, published by Taunton Press

Light is another essential requirement for any home to feel bigger than it is. Natural lighting is the most ideal. There are huge benefits to building or choosing a home with good natural light, including lower utility bills and reduced comfort. Whether there are a multitude of windows or artificial lights, bright rooms appear larger. Skylights can also add to the brightness of a room. For very small rooms, slatted windows, which are located high on the wall, provide a lot of light while not taking up much needed wall space and can provide privacy.


Photo courtesy of Naomi CO Beale for Prefaabulous + Almost Off the Grid, posted by Abrams

High ceilings tend to make any room larger and more airy. Often, architects design houses with cathedral ceilings or simply very high ceilings to counter the small space of the rooms.


Photo courtesy of Daniel Hennessey for Prefabulous Small Houses, published by Taunton Press

Access to outdoor space can make a house appear much larger than it actually is. Having large door openings leading to a patio or terrace widens the feel of the interior spaces while bringing in natural light and ventilation. When the doors are open to the outdoor space, rooms appear larger than they are. Particularly in warmer locations, the outdoor space can provide dining and resting space for most of the year, expanding living spaces.


Photo courtesy of Kevin Walsh Photography for Prefabulous Small Houses, published by Taunton Press

Corridors wasting a lot of space that can be used for rooms in the house. When building a small house, every inch should be put to good use. Well-designed homes can be built to minimize hallways and make rooms in the house more spacious. Not only does this lack of hallways provide more room for rooms, it also avoids the waste of energy used to heat and cool areas that are not needed.


Photo courtesy of FabCab Architects for Prefabulous Small Houses, published by Taunton Press


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