Make a Small House Look Bigger on the Inside | Siouxland Houses


By James Dulley Creators Syndicate Inc.

Dear James: We have a strict budget for our new house. It should be quite small overall. What are some design tips to make the living space appear bigger than it actually is? – Kellie D.

Dear Kellie: The modern trend in house building is small houses. The costs of building materials are very high right now due to the pandemic. Efficiency is another reason to build a smaller house. Heat is lost through the walls and ceiling, so a smaller house has less exterior area from which to lose heat.

If you are familiar with some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses, you know that there are many house design features to make a house more spacious. By starting with a smaller house plan, you can free up your budget enough to splurge on interior features.

Unless you have an unusually shaped lot, plan to build a square house. For a given interior floor area, a square house has the least wall area. Less wall area means less building materials and labor costs and lower monthly utility bills.

One of the first design steps to consider is how the house can be organized into specific areas, not just rooms. Try to design the house with active community areas and quiet private areas. This can be done by having medium sized rooms complemented by cozy and comfortable spaces. These spaces can actually be included in a corner of another room.

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Design the house floor plan layout so that there are windows on at least two walls in each room. Size the windows to suit the room. Very large windows in a wall can make a room appear smaller than it actually is. Include a few smaller taller windows on top of some standard windows to vary the focus distance. This provides a view of nearby objects through standard windows and distant objects through upper windows.

Instead of having typical straight walls or hallways, consider building an area with slightly tapered or stepped walls or ceilings. This can create the illusion that the room or hallway is longer than it actually is. A curved hallway can create the same illusion because part of the area is hidden at one end.

Transitions from one area to another can make it seem like there is more to a home than there really is. For example, thick sills and deep window / door trims add character and a sense of vastness to a home. Try extending the window trim beyond the wall surface into the room. This creates a lighted area inside the window opening along the trim, which contrasts with the shadows around the extended trim.

Do not skimp on some open areas such as the foyer or the entrance to a staircase, even if these two areas are not particularly usable. Nothing makes a house seem smaller than a tiny fireplace that more than two people have to squeeze around the open front door.

Remember to use the outdoors as a living space. It is much less expensive to build an outdoor living space per square foot than an indoor living space, and it does not require heating or cooling. To make it feel like a room instead of just a patio, include a low stone or brick wall around its edge and have a large roof overhang.

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