The Small House: Making the Most of Your Space

Martha Stewart

Ive always loved the idea of having a smaller house, and making the most of the space I have. When I lived in my tiny English cottage (the house prior to when I lived in my giant house) it was like a game for me to find clever places for things.

How can you make the most of your small house?

1. Make finding space in a small house a game.

My small house was like a puzzle, everything had one place that it could fit. My husband’s closet was actually a linen cabinet in the hall. My canned goods fit in a neat and tidy corner of our basement on plastic shelving. We had baking dishes on wire shelving on an enclosed back porch. We put beds on risers to give us more space for things under the beds.

Oh how I wish I had been blogging 10 years ago (was anyone blogging back then, or was that before the internet was invented?)! That would have been a fun house to talk about. We did so much to that adorably small house to make work for our family.

I love coziness so for the most part, having a small house was fun for me, not a drudgery. I enjoyed figuring out how clever I could be with our storage and furniture placement. I was determined I had enough space for what I needed and it really was like a challenging game to find the solution.

2. Find more than one purpose for your rooms.

I’ve always wanted a library/dining room. Not only do I think it looks charming, it is practical too. You can use the room to dine in, but it can also hold library shelves for books or a home office. One room, multiple purposes. Love that.

I’m not sure how I feel about bookshelves in the bedroom (top photo). I wonder if it would feel kind of dusty? I do like how it looks but I think I’d rather have books in the dining room. But if the bedroom was all I had for my books, it would work!

Southern Living

3. Less furniture, more built ins.

Free standing furniture takes up a lot of space. If you own a small home, there are often ways you can tuck in a built in piece (or a free standing piece that fits in just like a built in) to give you more room for the buck.

For instance, I adore banquettes (built in benches with a table)! Tables and chairs take up a lot of room, so if you can build a banquette into a small niche, you can have an eat in kitchen even if the room is quite small.

Think about other ways you could eliminate pieces of furniture by having built ins. Or even if you can’t build something in, perhaps consider other ways to eliminate excess pieces and go for more streamlined furniture!

4. Get creative with the space you have!

A couple of years ago I saw this photo, above, and it had a pretty cool outside the box idea! It is a custom made dining table that opens up to reveal a pool table! You can have a family meal, then take the lid off the table and the space becomes a game room. While the table probably costs a pretty penny, imagine the cost of a whole separate pool table room! Not only is this an example of a dual purpose room, it is thinking creatively in a small space.

In our small house, for the first two years of my son’s life, our dining room was his playroom. We had to get creative with the space we had, and having a playroom for his toys at that stage was more important than having a dining room. By being willing to let go of something we used less frequently and setting the house up for what we really needed, we made the house work for us.

If you are trying to make the most out of a small house, consider ways to double a room’s usefulness! We don’t always need MORE room, we just need to be more clever with the space we have!

Do you have what you consider a small, medium or large house?

Country Homes & Interiors Feb 2005 via House to Home
Custom Made Pool Table by Sir William Bentley Billiards

Related posts:
A Small Kitchen Makeover
A Cute Teeny Tiny House {via Jewel Box Home}
Making a Small House Feel More Open

Thank you to the lovely Diane from Longaberger
for sponsoring this week’s posts!

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Comments

  1. I have a fairly large house (4500 square feet) and truly yearn for something smaller. We hope to downsize soon. )

  2. Our home is 1850 sq feet. Sometimes it feels very small with its one car garage, one full bath and small bedrooms, but for our family of 4, we are making it work. I always feel victorious when I solve a storage problem in our home. Lately I have discovered minimalist blogs and that has been helping. I am being more cautious before bringing anything more into the home. We have more than enough.
    Kristia recently posted..Odd and End – 7 More Days LeftMy Profile

    • Hi Kristina!
      Do you have some links for some of those blogs – I could do with a help in that respect too. I’ve been getting rid of so much clutter which is helping, my word of 2011 is ‘minimise’. We also have more than enough!
      Jade
      Jade recently posted..Do you want to be AverageMy Profile

  3. We have an apt. here with 2700 sq feet. We’ve had to be a little creative since it’s Ukrainian style, but it’s working…sometimes we use the sauna (I know!) for a cellar when the balcony gets too hot during the summer.

    I know a family whose formal dining room is also their library- complete with the brass rails and ladder around the room!
    Tara G. recently posted..Minus a PearlMy Profile

  4. We have a small house by US standards (it’s acutally kind of medium of a UK house). I really need help in this area, mostly so far I’ve been getting rid of lots of clutter and stuff I don’t need.

    Do you have photos of some of the ideas from your small house – I would love to hear and see more of your suggestions for this.

    Have a lovely day,
    Jade
    Jade recently posted..Do you want to be AverageMy Profile

  5. I love this post. Please do more on this topic!!

    When we first got married we lived in a 24 foot trailer, and LOVED it! In a camper, ALL of the space is used to it’s optimum. I wish home builders were more like camper builders! With 24×8 feet of space (that’s what, 190 sq ft?)we could fit everything a young couple needed. We had built in mini-closets, our bed lifted up for full under-bed storage, the dinette seats were hollow for more storage, and even the couch had full storage under it. We look back on those 8 months with so much fondness. It was before we accumulated all this STUFF!! In fact, I would have happily lived in that trailer much longer if my growing pregnant belly had fit through the tiny spaces better.

    From there we moved into a 2 bed, 1 bath appartment (about 900 sq feet), and were amazed at how fast it filled with stuff (and we didn’t even buy anything except for a table). Now we are in a 3/2 of about 1200 sq feet and I am constantly trying to figure out how to put everything in a usefull place. Any advice on storing baby stuff? I have three little girls, the oldest is about to be 4 and the youngest 18mo. We aren’t expecting another baby now, but haven’t ruled it out for the future. We don’t have a garage, so the spare bedroom and the laundry room have gotten stuffed with the overflow. :-(

    Anyway, if it weren’t for the 4th generation upright piano, I would build a built-in dinette! Just like in that picture. My husband and I say that if we do any costumizing in out home, we want to make it more like a camper!

  6. This is such a great post! We live in a 1277 sqft bungalow and I was noddin the whole post. We have built-INS in the livingroom, master and kitchen :-)

    I’d love for you to stop by sometime and take a peek at our house tour!

    Xo – Rachael

  7. My house is 1300 sf for 3 of us. It’s an older home with barely any storage space. During the summer I store extra blankets and quilts between the mattress and box springs of each bed. I have a small room off my tiny kitchen where the washer and dryer is and I hung pegboard and hooks on one wall and hang pots and pans there. We each have one armoire in our bedroom and I keep my shoes in a drawer since the closets are so tiny. It’s sometimes frustrating but that’s when the brainstorming begins!

  8. love this post (and the photos too!). In our tiniest bathroom we have a built in bookcase. Afterall, who doesn’t read in the bathroom?? LOL

  9. Fantastic post! We live in a very old two story cottage bungalow, just over 1600 square feet. Between my husband and I and our 20 month old daughter, we’re constantly coming up with creative ways to maximize storage.

    We love our little home though :)

  10. We live in approx. 1400sft with 8 people and our granddaughter! We do have a basement though and we use it though it could be used more efficiently!

    It is big enough if I can master the storage issues. Some of it is just that we all have so much and being frugal are loath to get rid of it. But this is the year! Changes are on the way!

    Would love to see photos of your old house!

    Deanna
    Deanna recently posted..This Is On My MindMy Profile

  11. Melissa,

    I found when I had a smaller home I had more space and less “filler” because everything that came in the door was a conscious decision and was put to use.

    Your Friend,
    Deborah
    FairfieldHouse recently posted..ImpressionsMy Profile

  12. I live in a 1000 sq. ft. condo. Storage space is the worst about my small space. Every closet is full to the max. However, they are quiet organized so it is easy for me to find anything when I make all of my seasonal changes throughout my home. The one space that has driven me crazy is my office/guest bedroom. This week I have been on a quest to organize & decorate this space. This is one of those rooms where everything goes until I can find a place for it. Well, no more…….I have found bargains galore this week at Michael’s, Ross & Hobby Lobby. Round hat boxes, decorative boxes with lids, binders, wooden boxes which fit perfectly on 3 small shelves. The wooden boxes are Christmas boxes that will be painted & stenciled but the others where the perfect color. I bought so many that I do not even have anything to put in them. I now have organization & storage galore! I would not dream of leaving my little space for one. But I always have room for my grandkids sleep overs, they all pile in my bed, lol.

  13. We live in a medium-ish sized house, but at times it seems tiny cuz of all of our stuff! I love the pictures you have included here and I can’t wait to add some built-ins to some of our rooms.

  14. Melissa,

    Great post. I like smaller, cozy homes too. It is fun to use your imagination and creativity to find a place for all of life’s stuff.
    Karen

  15. I LOVE this post!!!

    My home is definitely small at 950 sq ft. But to me and my daughter, it’s almost perfect!! For one, less house means more money in my pocket! Less decor to buy, less electricity to pay, less to clean…in the end I always feel by having less house I have more life! :)

    One (very small) bathroom can be frustrating…but the hair straightener works in my bedroom just as well as it does the bathroom…and the kitchen sink runs water in a double teeth-brushing crunch like this morning. :)

    The bedrooms are definitely tiny, but we don’t need alot of space to sleep and get dressed.

    Like you, I enjoy the challenge of makinge everything fit!! It’s fun to me. I’ve never wanted a sprawling house with unused rooms…it’s seems senseless to me. We use every inch of our house! And I figure if 2 people can’t live in 950 sq ft…then we have too much stuff! :)
    Erin recently posted..Check Me Out!!My Profile

  16. Our house is about 4000 sq. ft. but the rooms are not big:( It is very hard to entertain in this house which we love to do. I would love to just have a DIFFERENT house, laid out differently. It probably won’t happen though:) We finished our basement years ago and I wish we hadn’t finished so much, we lack storage space. XO, Pinky
    Pinky recently posted..The Herrs Factory Christmas TourMy Profile

  17. I love built-ins, they make a house seem like a home. We are currently renting but every house we tour I look for space to store things. Thanks for a great post and please post pictures of your cottage.

    Take care,
    Michelle
    Michelle recently posted..Crafters ParadiseMy Profile

  18. We live in a 1350 sqft house, with 2 adults, 3 kids (and soon to be 5 kids when our boys come home from Haiti!) The builder of this 100 yr old house actually did well maximizing space, with a few narrow built-ins etc, and we use a “hope chest” as a bench for one side of our table. Our teeny DR has two tall bookcases in it, and the built-in of school stuff (we homeschool) and I must confess I wouldn’t mind NOT having bookcases full of books in my DR!! The kitchen is too small to eat in, so we have our table that seats 8 in there as well.
    We also got creative by turning one end of the long LR into a “music room.” (I teach piano lessons). With one love seat separating the spaces.
    Spring recently posted..December UpdatesMy Profile

  19. …i started this to say that i have a library/ dining room and that i love it….then i was going to tell you that our master bedroom was full of books… and the guest room is too…then i was going to say that our guest bathroom had a tall bookcase… filled with …you guessed it…books…finally i realized that we have books and bookcases in every single room of our home… and they do not feel a bit dusty…they feel wonderful…books…pictures…and lamps are all one needs to feel cozy and warm …and welcoming…and after all…that is what home is all about…

  20. Thank you for sharing such wonderful ideas.
    I hope to have more bookshelves built…this year’s goal!
    Joanne
    Joanne recently posted..Quiet Beauty of WinterMy Profile

  21. We have bought (and are renovating) a 1500 sq. ft. house. We haven’t moved in yet, but I think it’s going to be just right.

    What we have found is that the size is not important, it’s the layout.

    Our previous house was 2000 sq ft, but we had a couple of “wasted” rooms — rooms we never used. We spent all our time in the kitchen/great room, and -yeah!- that’s what we’re going to have in our new (old) house.

    In the meantime, we are going to very creative with using our space wisely.
    karen recently posted..to do listMy Profile

  22. Marilyn Holeman says:

    Hi Melissa, Our “original home” is 605 square feet, where we raised our 4 kids–and yes, one must be creative! We built a bunk in our laundry room, and when my son got too tall, we cut a whole into the “broom” closet so he could rest his feet on the shelf in there! That’s now storage. Since then, we built a separate “house” on our property (per county requirements. It’s a long story)–one bedroom upstairs, one bedroom down plus 1/2 bath under the stairs, so we have 997 square feet, for the 4 people at home now. No garage, basement or attic, but we have some sheds for overflow pantry, tools and other storage. I love your blog. Keep up the inspiration! Blessings.

  23. Wonderful post – I need all the small-space advice I can get. Our house is about 1100 sqft I guess (although I might be too generous).

    The bedrooms are small – only a bed and night stand can fit in the spare room. Closets are tiny.

    Living / dining room is basically one room. Love that pic of the built-in table and benches (it’s much like I was looking for last week and you so graciously helped me with!). I’m really seeing the benefit of built-ins, just have to convince hubby. This would work well for our dining room I think.

    The kitchen is a galley-type and we have to walk through it to get into the rest of the house – the entrance is on the other side. What really can you do with a galley kitchen?

    We do have a basement that is really outdated but still functional. Besides the long rectangular family room, it has a small room that we pile mostly unused toys in (our girl uses it from time to time but not much), a good-sized storage room that would be more efficient if we organized it, and another room that has the furnace which we don’t use for anything (wasted space!).

    I’m hoping this is the year we can make some changes in our small home to better use the space. Thanks for this post and hope to see more like it.

  24. Veronica H says:

    We have a smaller house, but for 2 newlyweds it works just fine. I would love to have some built-ins but our 70+ year old house does not have any :( I would love to see a post on how to create the illusion of a built-in…we are doing lots of remodeling on the house and have been thinking of doing something like a built in but dont really know how to go about doing it…

  25. I agree. I don’t need more space. Lord knows I have to clean it, but I am all about having a cozy inviting home that makes me want to enjoy what I have.
    Regina recently posted..Tylers First HaircutMy Profile

  26. We’re in the process of selling our mid-sized house for a Small. I’m so excited! And scared. And purging while I can.

    Loved this post!
    Flower Patch Farmgirl recently posted..Garage Sale III – Spring LinensMy Profile

  27. We definitely live in a small house. We have a whopping 860 sq. ft., two bedrooms, 1 bath, eat-in kitchen, utility/laundry room, living room, three small closets, and no basement! That’s it! The hardest part was combining our two households. My apartment was 865 sq. ft., so not only did we have to combine, we had to downsize. Gosh I miss my walk-in closet.

    The only complaints I have about our house is the kitchen is very inefficient and there is no place for me to have office space for myself. Otherwise, we’ve learned to manage very well.
    Loribeth recently posted..To the Vet…Again!!My Profile

  28. I wholeheartedly agree with the tip on the built-ins. My husband put some built-in shelves in when we had an addition put on to the back of our home. He had never done them before, and they don’t look magazine-worthy, but they are SO helpful. :) I use natural colored canvas bins from Wal-Mart in them to store toys….love it!

  29. This home we live in now is quite small and I have had to get creative with space. in order for me to stay home, we have down sized quite a bit and now live in a home without a garage! what a challenge for a neat freak like myself. I have had find space in various places…lol. like you said Melissa, built ins are always wonderful way for storage…however, never underestimate other unexpected places. i store un-used homeschool books under my couch! lol. we have books coming out of the walls and and all four of our bookshelves are brimming. I think I am becoming the queen of small house living. it’s all about finding space in unexpected ways :) great post Melissa :) xo
    shelbi recently posted..inspiration files- JanuaryMy Profile

  30. Good post.It reminds me of Sarah Susanka’s book “The Not So Big House”. The houses of the future will have to be smaller and use less energy. My husband and I built and lived in a large house for 14 years.It was beautiful and I loved decorating it, but it was so time consuming to clean and maintain and with working part time and driving to swim lessons, piano lessons, etc.I little time to really enjoy it. We’re now looking for a smaller more open and “greener” home and ridding myself of all the unnecessary things I bought to just fill my large home.I look on it as a new challenge for a simpler way of life.

  31. Oh please, oh please do more on this topic! My husband and I live in a 1200 sqft cape cod. I am constantly trying to purge items we don’t need/use and I always get a grumble from the hubs when he sees the goodwill pile. I want to try and maximize the space we have so we’ll have room to add on to our family without accumulating much more stuff. But with babies, comes stuff. It’s a never ending cycle. I’d love to hear more on this subject, and from what I’ve read, so do others!

  32. I, too, moved from a tiny house to a “huge-to-me” house. I would love to hear more about your transition. Maybe it’s in your archives. I’ll set to diggin’ if I get a minute.

    I still like to make my spaces cozy and homey; I love multipurpose rooms and I like creative storage…it brings charm and character!

    You’ve inspired me to maybe, just maybe, write a post about our transition from our 1100 square foot, two bedroom “cottage” (with kiddo number five on the way), to the sprawling home we now have. It’s been seven years and I’m still trying to figure out how to use my spaces.

    I LOVE THE INSPIRED ROOM! So aptly named.

    Carrie
    The Lazy Dazy recently posted..True BeautyMy Profile

  33. Our home is on the smaller side (1500 square feet) with 4 of us living in it. I find the more organized we are the easier it is to live in the space that we have. My boys are both small right now, but I don’t feel like we are lacking in space & I attribute that to just trying to stay organized! I always wanted a home office space, but wasn’t able to have one because of lack of available space, but had an idea a week ago to use one of our closets for this purpose! Finally I have the home office I have always wanted. Feel free to check out my site to see my new space!
    Tonya recently posted..My Closet Turned Home Office RevealMy Profile

  34. We have a medium-sized house: almost 2000 s.f. (btw, I’m kind of laughing at the “fairly large” 4500 s.f. house!). We haven’t moved there yet, but it has almost 400 s.f. more than we have now. I will be able to have a room dedicated to a home office now (HOORAY! It will also be a guest room, however.). I have been working at the dining room table, which makes it very hard to entertain. I would love to have a library/dining room, too, but alas, our new house doesn’t even have a dining room. Perhaps someday!
    Minnesotamom recently posted..This Time- With PantsMy Profile

  35. Defintely a fairly large house (4500Sq. FT) but there are seven of us here. And since we joined households with my folks there were two full households of STUFF to begin with. We are still downsizing “stuff”.

    When we lost my grandparents(and my husbands grandparents)we also inherited lots of their stuff. It has been a constant chore of weeding out stuff, emptying out storage units, and trying to make this work for the seven of us.

    We have made lots of progress, but it is not a job for the fainhearted. LOL

    We are down now to just a couple of places that need attention, instead of a house stuffed to the rafters. Thank God there is an end in sight!
    Fiona’s Mosaic recently posted..Watch Out 2011!!! Here I come!My Profile

  36. TRUTH!! We recently upgraded from renting a 700 sq. foot 1 bedroom apartment, to renting a I dunno 1500+ sq. feet duplex, so my sister-in-law could move in with us. We have a “studio” that fits our bedroom/ office/ and living area that is the size of our whole last apartment.

    At first I thought the big space would be fun, but now I’m yearning for something smaller again. It’s so much easier to decorate in a small space!

  37. I consider my home a small/medium. I do have very limited space, but I’m a habitual organizer and I’m constantly looking to improve the space we have. I clean things out regularly and reorganize a space until I get the most out of it. I love the built ins! I want to do that some day!

  38. It wasn’t so long ago that 2000 sq. ft. was a big house. My family lives in a house built by my Aunt and Uncle in the late 40s, and it’s about 1900 sq. ft. My mother said that they had all the parties here because their house (and pool, added in 1960!) was so much bigger than everyone else’s.

    There’s a remedy for too much stuff, of course. Just don’t buy it and bring it into the house. I know that’s heresy in this day and age, but none of us needs nor enjoys the amount of stuff the average American family owns.

  39. We have a small house and definitely done many of the things you suggest to deal with the storage. Key among them, in my mind is the built-ins. In fact we’re having built-ins put in the new bedroom and we’re doing everything we can to maximize the storage in them. Everything we did in our remodel was with an eye towards storage.

    The benefit of a small house, however, is that it forces you to be much more judicious in managing your stuff. We purge much more often than our friends with bigger houses and try to stick to the new thing in, old thing out rule.
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  40. We live in a med. sized home — roughly 2200 square feet — but the layout is HORRIBLE and the kitchen is a tiny galley. As a family of 4 (soon to be five), it feels like we are constantly running out of room. Like others, I’ve pared down what is in our home and try to find creative storage ideas (to copy) but it’s still a challenge.

    Oh . . . our formal dining room is now our playroom.
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  41. Krysta N. says:

    My husband and I are closing on a little 1950′s starter house next week and it is pretty small at 960sqft. However it is very well laid out and although the bedrooms are small it will be perfectly adequate for the two of us as we start our family. We could even use the 3rd bedroom as another kid’s room (instead of an office) if we’re still there when we have a second child. I’m just excited to have our own place after renting! The laundry is only a closet, but IT IS MY OWN LAUNDRY SPACE. I can’t express how much I’m going to enjoy having my own laundry facilities that I can use whenever I need to. I’m looking forward to de-junking and organizing everything like crazy and making it a wonderful home for the time we are there. Houses don’t have to be big (this is coming from someone who grew up in a 7500sqft house), they just need to be adequate – living life is so much more important than having “stuff”. :)

  42. This year we downsized from 3300sq ft to 1800 sg ft. We sold rooms of furniture and now the girls share a bedroom. It was one of the best decissions we ever made. Everything item and furniture needs to have a purpose and function in order to stay and there is no room for clutter. But what I love the most is raising my family is a small cozy house!
    Thank you, I really enjoyed reading your post today.
    wendy
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  43. big house. small rooms. no closets. That is a farmhouse for you!
    I am totally with you on the built-ins. I am kind of a built-in junky.
    Great post, Melissa!!!!
    {darlene} recently posted..ditto – an understated and fresh dining roomMy Profile

  44. I guess I have about 1700 sq. ft. I would consider that medium, but probably not anymore. I feel like, if I can’t fit my space then I have too much stuff. Time to downsize. That’s really the way I think of any house. If 4 of us can’t fit, then we have too much. We don’t needs tons of stored ‘stuff’ to live happily.

    -FringeGirl
    the domestic fringe recently posted..All That is My LifeMy Profile

  45. our house, born in 1954, is a mere 1024 square feet. When we were first married, it was exactly what we were looking floor; the charm of hardwood floors, coved ceilings, and room to improve. Now we have two little girls and we’ve had to rethink everything! we didn’t realize at the time we bought that there was no closet space (literally two coat closets and that’s it!)and that one bathroom would get in the way of me ever having a soaker tub. For years I’ve been fighting this house. we recently fixed up all of our little projects and met with realtors, turns out WE’RE STAYING (the housing market is beyond help). It took 24 hours to settle in, but now we have changed our perspective. Thankfully we only have 2 children in this 2 bedroom, and yes, my closet sized dining room is a playroom! Decluttering is the word and me and this house are a bad combination.

  46. We live in a townhouse and I would consider it medium. But, when we have people over they always comment how BIG our home is inside. I think it’s because from the outside it looks really small.
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  47. We’re just under 1800 square feet, which I consider small bordering on medium. It’s plenty of room for our small family, but I’m always looking for ideas for dual purpose and storage. We’ve even managed to throw in a Golden Retriever. :-D So, Melissa, if you want to spend some time talking about living in small spaces, that would be great. Hint. Hint.

    How big was your small space?
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  48. Hi there! i recently moved into a cozy Boston apartment, and this post is PERFECT. i have a giant room, but every other room is generally pretty small. but to say the least, i love it, and i have made my room my niche and i know exactly what you mean when you say about finding nifty places for everything. the best part about small apartments/ houses is finding creative ways to store everything. then all our friends come together and compare notes. it would be great if you could share with us how to tackle a small bedroom that poses as a living room/ art studio! lol i love you blog!!

  49. Greetings! We live in a small house – 1100 sq.ft, 2b/1b. Its perfect! We have a formal dining room (which will now be host to ALL our books thanks to your brilliant suggestion.) The dining room has a ton of room and I’m even thinking of putting an antique daybed by one of the windows, for reading, for lounging…but I don’t know yet. We are in the process of having built ins…errr, built in and I can’t wait! The house really has plenty of room for our family of three and even for when we are blessed with another baby. Its been fun seeing how much we can do with little – I still manage to have two sets for china for 16! 16! Plus all the crystal and it works…you just have to be sure to put everything in its place. I’m also slipcovering my furnishings and hope to create continuity by having the same window treatments throughout the house. I love our little 1940′s baby! Oh, we also use our backyard often for dining and entertaining.

  50. Oh yeah…forgot to mention…our laundry is also my office (I work from home) and school room. :) But I’m trying to make it uber cute!

  51. We have a roomy 2 bedroom apartment. It has wonderful closets and lots of storage, we just need some closet organizer pieces to make them more functional. We have a library in our dining room and in our guest bedroom, and the guest bedroom is also my office and craft room.
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  52. We have made full use of our guest room closet – it’s wall to wall – top to bottom shelves. We use it for out of season and seldom used items.

    For our guests, there is an empty dresser, but we don’t have too many overnight visitors.

    Our 1950s 8 foot wide, 10 INCH deep linen closet has become a food pantry on one side and a toiletries pantry on the other. Again, we installed wall to wall – top to bottom shelving.

    We are using low-boy style dresser (strange piece of furniture) as an entertainment unit in the living room. The drawers hold lots of games, controllers, etc.

    And, of course our ottoman has a lift off lid for more storage. :) Lots of ways to make good use of space.
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  53. Coming from a tiny 720sq foot apartment in Boston, I would not consider our Victorian small in total square footage. But boy are the rooms small (we just have a lot of them and a lot of stairs!). So we are still learning to be creative with our space.
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  54. Our house is 1040 square feet, We have two kids and one on the way, so it is definitely a challenge- but I love it. I love the fact that whatever I do keep or hold onto has to be meaningful enough to deserve a space in our tiny house- it helps me purge and keep what matters most and learn to let go of all of the other stuff. Plus cleaning is a breeze! There are moments where I wish I had a playroom for the kids, though.

  55. great topic! I have a small house, so I love getting ideas and seeing pictures of what others have done with their spaces.

  56. I too love the idea of making it a game to find a “place for everything.” I did that in my last home, and I actually really enjoyed it. Designing for a small space is often easier for me than for a large place…weird, huh? :)

    Love your site!
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  57. this is a geat topic! LOTS of people have small houses. We maybe moving from our bigger one and downsizing! Less STUFF:) thanks Melissa!
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  58. I have a small house, 2BR center hall, and since it is small and there’s a formal DR, it’s a galley kitchen that some nimrod tried to turn into an L. Mind you, the double window is normal window height. So ther currently is a dearth of counter space&no such thing as a work triangle. Ooo,but I have plans. ;) VeryCheapPlans. :-/ but the enclosed porch is ducted for heat&AC,so it’s a bonus! And when I can get the inner closet wall knocked out under the stairway, I can happily take out the kitchen cabs & still have”pantry extraordinaire”. But those kitchen cabs are literally moving up in the world! :D all the dnstairs rms hv 10ft ceilings so there will be open shelves under the soffitt,and the open high parts will have cabs to the ceiling-and the bases? Will stack in a little corner for floor to ceiling cabs. The original plumbing for the sink was just covered,not ripped out,yay! So I can just hook up my used commercial potsink and put all my pieces/parts where I want ‘em. ;) even tho the up rms are 8ft ceilings,i am still building “up”,like the down places I can put glass door collectible cabs over windows&doors,or “create” really tall “armoires” for display or storage. Yes,dear Melissa it’s gonna be fun! And I have crafty ppl that want to help “broken” me git’erdun. I cant wait…-s-

  59. Hey there, I’ll jump in. For the first 12 years of marriage we had either base housing, which was a standard 1200 SF, or a little duplex, which was a super cozy 700 SF. The house we are in now is a super huge 2400 SF! I mean really! We have TOO MUCH space!We have four growing boys, and two dogs (one’s a great dane puppy so she’ll be taking up room soon) but we have a complete 400SF that we don’t even use on a daily basis! The downside to a big house is clutter. My word of the year, and resolution is “simplify”. I am taking this year to purge what isn’t used, and isn’t loved and to just keep what truly makes me happy or is useful. And one day, I’d like a smaller house. When that day comes I’ll be ready because I’ll be down to the bare bones of what I want to keep with me forever.
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  60. Rikki-Leigh says:

    We rent a pretty small upstairs of a house. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, Kitchen and living room. Not sure how many sq. feet but it doesn’t feel like much with baby #5 on the way. The only way I’ve found to cope is to constantly be unclutering and unjunking. I’d love more ideas on how to organize small spaces especially with small kids!

  61. I was just making a floor plan of our house the other night (since we would like to add a little in the future): 1127 sq. ft. for 2 adults, 4 growing boys, and another baby on the way.

    We’ve managed nicely so far by really limiting the number of toys (quality over quantity) and multi-purposing cabinets, etc. Thankfully our kitchen is wonderful since that’s where we tend to spend most of our time, but the kids’ room are teeny and will be more difficult as they get bigger.

    I’m intrigued by the thought of built-ins. My first thought is that they would really limit furniture placement and room usage, but I’m guess there’s less need for furniture when you already have places for storage?

  62. I love your post. What an inspiration! OUr home is 1342 sq feet, I have taken joy in finding a place for everything including my head against the wall at times. :) Thanks for the inspiring post.

  63. We just spent 2 1/2 years living in a tiny house on Lake Washington. I loved the simplicity of it. When you live in a small space, you only keep what you realy love.

    We just moved to Chicago and have lots more space. I am enjoying that, too.

    Fondly,
    Glenda
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  64. Downsizing seems to be the way things are trending now. I’ve been waiting for HGTV to capitalize on this idea that we don’t all need the big McMansion with a four car garage anymore — I’d love to see them do a show where instead of paying the money for an extra room or two in a new house, that money goes instead to hiring an interior designer who can plan out the house to make it work for the owners with built-ins and the like. (That’s my plan when it comes time to buy a home, anyway.) Thanks for this amazing post. You’ve got me thinking!

  65. Love this post! I have a small “cottage” full of 4 growing children but I enjoy that we use every square inch ~ nothing wasted! Just like making a game out of creative space, I also secretly pretend I’m “playing house” like when I was little to get the chores done! Thanks for the inspiration,
    Blessings,
    Olivia

  66. This is so timely for me. I needed to read this. It seems that more and more of the blogs I’ve been reading are helping me be content with the home I have (a humble 1500 sq ft) instead of waiting to build our forever home. It’s really all about being creative (and content) with the space you have. I’m also really into the “Not So Big House” concept when we build our dream home. More isn’t always more.
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    • I,too, have been reading and reading and reading about small homes. I want to be content with what God has given me and stop whining that “I want more”. As I read, I realize my home is not small, it is more like medium (1770 sf). My biggest problem is looking at what others have and comparing myself. I’ve always looked at house size as a sign of success or affluence,and felt I came up short. Anyway, through reading blogs, websites, etc, I am inspired again and am falling back in love with my house, which I loved so much when I bought it. Side note: when we remodeled our bathroom, it only cost 1500.00 because it was so small!

  67. I have a medium sized house, but one of my favorite homes was tiny. . .you are forced to be together, and you are forced to really think about everything you buy!
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  68. Love your post too! I have a 1300 sq ft house. It is kind of small/medium to me. I have been thinking about doing the bed on risers. I don’t have a lot of storage space. May have to try it!
    Melissa recently posted..Right NowMy Profile

  69. I have the opposite problem. We live in a 5000sq ft home…We are the typical American family of 4 plus 2 dogs and many times I wished our house was smaller…especially when trying to clean or organize my home. We spend most of our time in the kitchen or the family room or the dining room…I was commenting recently how the “formal” living room is so obsolete, it just a pretty room. I visit friends who live in bigger homes 7000sqfeet and up and we always end up in the kitchen chatting and eating. Ladies, a smaller home is a blessing in disguise.

  70. I like the idea of having more than one pupose to a room. We recently just added a craft nook in the corner of the kitchen for the kids and it is perfect! Frees up other space too!

  71. Yes I live in a small house, just 6 rooms in total.2 bedrooms, lounge, kitchen, minature bathroom and a sleepout. My eldest was starting to need her own room, so I’ve just painted and done up the sleepout for her. It is very skinny but long and she and I are so happy with it, plus she gets the best view in the house with a whole wall of windows. The only downside is that the front door opens directly onto her room but we rarely have people come there (Friends know to come around the back)and she’s very neat and it’s such a pretty room that it doesn’t really matter. Come over and have a look.

    And yes, having little space means your less likely to hold onto clutter which is great.

  72. Our new home is definitely a small house. we are in the midst of renovation and are incorporating a lot of ideas (such as the built ins) to create storage and increase functionality.
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  73. We live in as smallish 1300 sq ft house. My secret weapon is my cleaning rule “GET RID OF ALL THE THINGS!” If I get tired of cleaning something I often just toss it. Which is why the microwave is out in the snow waiting for trash day.
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  74. gorgeous pictures! Ironically I have the one of the built in kitchen banquette on my desk clip board right now. And I love the bookshelves in the bedroom, we are big readers here and that looks more appealing than a tv ever would
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  75. I just discovered your lovely blog. I’m just new into blogging & have just finished off my own blog on fashion & interior design.
    http://scrapbook-melissah.blogspot.com/
    I had a lot of fun putting it together maybe you would like to check it out if you have a spare minute.
    x
    Melissah
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  76. Excellent ideas and wonderful post! I have to agree that I loved living in a small house too. I’m getting ready to move into an even bigger house than I have now and have no idea how I’m going to set it up. It’s a larger space but it’s not useful space. I’ll be following along here for ideas :-)
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  77. We have a 700sqft apartment. We love it here because we couldn’t afford (or dream of) a better location but the idea of having a family here is very daunting! Home office/kids/storage/guest room? Somebody tell me it’s possible!
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    • Rosie Klahn says:

      Frances,

      We live in San Francisco and there are lots of neighbors in our high-rise with babies, toddlers and out-and-out kids! Those families are teaching something HUGE that, imho, is missing in Families In The Age Of McMansion–how to share and get-along! I shared a BR with my bro and sis until the eldest was 5, then with my sis until I left for college. I suffered no roommate angst whatsoever! Even if life takes you to a bigger house someday, do your kids a favor and let them share a room if you can. Even if they put a tape line down the middle to divide up the square footage (we did), I think it makes a better person.

  78. Colleen P. says:

    Oh I just love that statement up there that none of the space is wasted, that’s SUCH a grea way to look at it! Oddly enough, we also moved from England (military, you probably guessed that!) and bought a house here in the US-we went from slightly under 900 sq. ft. to over 1500, and this place still feels huge, though by American standards it really isn’t. In fact, we had some water damage to fix a couple of years ago and had to clear out a bedroom…AND WE NEVER MISSED THE SPACE! LOL! We could have walled off the bedroom entirely and still had plenty of room.

    I do have small bedrooms, but after living British style for 6 years I’ve learned that I actually prefer them small. SO quick and easy to tidy up. My goal is to just make the best of the storage that we already have. This place has typical builder grade closets which means loads of wasted space. We’re slowly going through and redoing them to improve capacity. I did a closet at the end of the hall, moved the rod up as far as it would go and stored our of season and seldom worn clothing there. I then made the lower part into a linen cabinet, with big storage bins for blankets on the floor, which actually works better because the old linen cabinet was nowhere near the bathrooms or bedrooms, and had half the capacity.

  79. Love the suggestions! Only problem I have in our medium (for our size family) house is the weird spaces that makes it seem more like a small house. Add the fact that it’s a rental and sometimes we have to be even more creative (like a banquet, wouldn’t that be Wonderful, wish we could have one with hidden storage underneath the benches and maybe even some upper cabinets… oh, the things we would do to this house if we could).
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  80. What a lovely blog! I am so glad I stumbled over here :)

    I love the idea of having a library/dinig room. The house we are looking at has built-ins with cabinet doors. But, if we removed the doors, it would be great for bookshelves.

    Thanks for the great idea! Also, I’m now sold on open shelving in a kitchen. Great inspiration!

  81. Small 600sqft home that I love but truly need storage ideas and how to plan out my rooms. Most of the ideas or photos for cottages are for rooms and homes that are quite large. Thanks for the ideas!

  82. My husband and I live in a 620sq. ft. apartment. It definitely makes you think creatively. We got books in the bedroom (it is a little dusty) and I’ve opted for pretty uniform storage boxes for odds and ends in the closet and desk. We decided early to not own more than we can comfortably fit in our space but we also make allowances for things we love and know we want in our future home (like our antique pub table!).

  83. I LOVE the bedding on the Martha Stewart picture included at the very top of this post. Can you tell me which story it was included in? It is exactly what I’ve been looking for for our Master Bedroom! I would really appreciate the help; she has so many stories listed under ‘bedrooms’ on her website, I don’t know if I could ever get through them all!
    Thanks!

  84. Our home is 1772 sf. When we were looking at homes, we realized that it’s not the sf, its the layout that is important! ONe home we looked at was bigger but was laid out in such a strange way that we felt cramped just looking at it-and it was empty! I have always struggled with “big house envy” ever since we bought a house and realized we couldn’t afford the size we wanted in the area we wanted. My husband is more content than I but I have come around. Lots of prayers and the realization that G-d would not give me anything more if I were not content with what He has given me. Even though He may choose to give me a bigger home someday, I’m not sure I’d want it now! I “cured” the coveting by deliberately looking for articles about people ENJOYING their small homes. (not the teeny tiny houses-those are neat but I would never be comfortable in an 84 sf box). This blog and many other articles at apartmenttherapy.com have been tremendously helpful and INSPIRING!
    Ok, the nuts and bolts- I have clutterphobia and my husband is a packrat. AFter 21 years, we are finally coming to some middle ground :) We have three bedrooms; the master is a good size, our king sz bed fits comfortably in there but really only works on one wall. The boys’ room (ages 12 and 15) 11.0×11.5 with a good sized closet that’s not deep enough to be a walk-in and too deep to be a reach in. It came with a closet organizer but that’s not right for the space. So a future project is to tackle that. For now, I gave it a good purging and organizing. The doors are off because they bumped one of the dressers and couldn’t open all the way, plus took up too much floor space when opened. Boys’ closet doors are ALWAYS opened :). THe boys have bunk beds and this summer, I put a shelf up near the ceiling all along one wall. Legos live there. A bookshelf with an aquarium on top, two dressers,(can’t get boys to part with them), and a small tv stand with storage underneath are all the furnishings. Not much wall space, so still trying to figure out what to do with three guitars and a viola….
    Ok. Girl’s room. ONe girl-the only person in the house with her own room. She’s a young adult so we all have dibs on her room when she moves out :). Full size bed, large bookcase, nice bookcase headboard, dresser, good sized closet but not as big as the boys’. Her room is supposed to be 12 x12 but the closet bumps out instead of being build in so it takes up 2 feet of space. It also creates a sort of entryway into her room, which is kind of cool and kind of annoying at the same time.
    Long, narrow kitchen, no dining room, living room, one main bath and one in our master bdrm. And….a very cool family room which isn’t huge but is very flexible! My favorite room. IT sits off the kitchen with a half wall diving the space. So, it’s great for get togethers because when we can’t seat everyone at the kitchen table, we move the sofa and chairs around and make the family room into a dining room. We’ve had ice cream parties for 24 people! We have about one third acre, mostly backyard, so that’s fabulous!The room I hate the most is our “laundry room”. It’s really our HVAC room with a washer dryer shoved in. Basically a closet. I joked that if I gain any more weight, I can’t fit in there. The trouble with it is, the dryer is in there and, because it’s not vented directly outside, it takes three hours to dry a load of laundry. So, we hang our laundry to dry. Now, that’s not a problem in Spring and Summer but there’s nowhere to hang it in the winter. I have some ideas about how to create more space for that but hubby hasn’t implemented it for me,yet, and I’m lousy with power tools! We also have a 2.3 foot wide hallway and nowhere to put laundry hampers, so they live in the hallway, which takes up a lot of space and doesn’t look too nice. But, I did find some great hampers at Walmart that are narrow and fit the space fairly well. What else do you want to know LOL? Bottom line, I’m content with my home and have no plans to move. God Bless to all.

  85. We moved from a 2500 sq ft house to a 1100 sq ft condo. It’s a temporary situation, but we have had to make a lot of adjustments. Our dining room has a deep freeze that we use as a banquet table and inside is being used as storage – not for food. We have a large bookcase filled with all of my books and a small bookcase that is my “office”. It houses my printer, office supplies, files that I use often and paper products. We also drained our wine fridge and use that for storage as well. My closets look like a Jenga game with boxes.

  86. We have a fairly standard British 1930′s house which is about 1200sq ft – basically it’s a 2.5 bed as the third bedroom is about 6ft by 6ft and that has become our book and office space.

    They were originally build at starter homes for young family with maybe a baby and toddler. They were all built to the same plan, it’s hilarious I can look anywhere in the country and you’ll find the exact same house!

    The lack of space is a massive issue in our home – we have a *lot* of Ikea Billy bookcases, Ektorps to hold the ‘stuff’ at bay :) Every 6 months or so I have to have a recycle day and go through old books, toys, clothes etc. I’m hoping one day to either be able to extend or move, because of the space issue is becoming more pressing as our family gets older.
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  87. My house is average size – it’s 2350 sf, which is right on the national average.

    Our last house (which we sold in 2003) was 3,200 sf, and we moved from that to a 700sf one bedroom condo. We had a lot of stuff in storage!!!

    This size house works for us now – there is plenty of room for all our stuff; I imagine that when our son leaves the house, and my husband and I get older, we may downsize. Our first home we owned was 1,100 sf, and I could easily move back down to that size house. We’ll see…

    When I was 22, I bought my first condo – it was a one bedroom place – in my bedroom, one wall was filled with bookcases, and I kept all my books in my bedroom – I don’t think it ever got dusty.
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  88. Although our home isn’t small, it’s wonderful to see all the great creative ways to incorporate use and storage into the space. Our old house was not built with thoughts of storage, but rather with tiny closets and an afterthought bathroom that I’m guessing was once the pantry closet.

    The idea of a diningroom/library is just what we need to incorporate in our home as books are all about in our home. Lovely post!
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  89. Megan LaFollett
    Twitter:
    says:

    We lived for a short time in a 900 square foot apartment with our preschooler, toddler, and mother-in-law while we house hunted, and we got pretty creative with our sleeping arrangements. An under-the-stairs closet became our preschooler’s bedroom, and the crib went in another closet so DH and I could have bedroom and my MIL could have the other. It worked well for our needs at the time.

    That said, I was very relieved to move into our 2,500′ house. Which I think is actually on the small side for our needs (another baby on the way, plans for more, homeschool space, guest space for the grandparents who are all out of town), but we sacrificed some space for the location we wanted. More space does NOT equal more clutter — if there’s room for everything to have a home, it makes it so much easier to keep things picked up and organized. And I love using small-space tricks to make my space more efficient.

  90. eileen marie
    Twitter:
    says:

    We live in a condo that is 1000 sq ft. We HAVE to be creative. I have recently been seeing A LOT of bedrooms with bookshelves, & I love it, especially considering the amount of books we (mostly my husband) have. We just can’t fit them in the 10×12 sleeping space! We are hoping once we go totally (or nearly) digital w/ our music, we can get rid of at least one cd storage piece. I do have 1 little 3 shelf bookcase in the bedroom that holds my school (work) stuff. I saw your decorating w/ red post just a couple of mins ago. Our office is red, but will *hopefully* serve as a nursery sooner than later…and it’s staying red. It’s a beautiful deep English Library red, & it was ridiculously hard to paint, so we’ve been searching for red nursery inspiration!

  91. Rosie Klahn says:

    Our San Francisco apartment is, maybe, 500 sq.ft. with a killer view to the bay. View has a lot to do with being able to live happily with my husband in this amount of space, as does having a lot to pick from outside the walls of our home. If the same apartment was not in an interesting, busy, convenient area, we’d undoubtedly have to rely more on being home. For instance, while it is easy to dine out (and thus, go broke) in the city, we have great groceries and farmers’ markets close so our pantry can remain small. It does limit my doing “projects,” but in reality, time is the biggest limitation and so what’s really limited is using up space with supplies for projects I HOPE to get to someday!

  92. I really can relate to your post. We have a medium size house (for austrian standards) but it´s built like a tube. it´s really long but really small in the width. i really need to be clever and innovativ renovating this house. we are working on it since we moved in (6 years ago) and changing it all the time. but we are solving this challenge better and better. i´m now working on our bedroom and i love it, we are using every space we have. thand you so much for your ideas.
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  93. Still out here wondering who would like to help me get the most out of my small house. I lack vision and spacial awareness. Love reading the posts, viewing the pics, but still have no clue how to incorporate into my own home. Can anyone recommend a designer who may be able to help me with a layout and selection? Serously, I live in the Boston area, but would be happy to work with someone fun, via computer…must be reasonably priced…lol. Thank you in advance for any help.

  94. Mary Beth says:

    I stumbled upon this while investigating how in the world my husband & I and our 2 young boys can downsize from our 5000 sq ft McMansion into a cute as can be little cottage with a FANTASTIC water view & small private beach. The house even has a yard that will fit our large playset and has a cabana for outdoor dining – & still has plenty of space for the kids to run around. There are 4 bedrooms – kind of – one is a “walk-through” that may need to be the office/den. We’re planning on the boys rooming together to use the last left over bedroom as a playroom/guest room. The kitchen space will be 1/4 of what I have – & I cook A LOT. There is a great attic space for longer term type of storage, but not much space for every day storage. Closet space is at a minimum. My husband & I are in the throes of figuring out how we can simplify our life to make this work. How did we end up with all this stuff? Waking up to the rising sun over the water would be amazing…

  95. Lois Snow says:

    My husband and I moved into my Mom’s house last year, an inheritance from her passing. All our children are grown so it’s just the two of us and 3 cats. The house is just a little less than 1000 sq.ft. and I am struggling to make things look nice. There is only so much I can get rid of or store in the garage. I, too, would love to see HGTV do some features on making the most of space in a small home. Our floor plan is not very open and I would love some tips on how to make it more welcoming.

  96. A good way to make any room look bigger is to have plain walls and one or two large mirrors,this will spread light a round the room and give it a sense of been larger than it is.

  97. ann kennedy says:

    my twin and i are now thinking of living together, smallness is what we fear most as we are like chalk and cheese and have lived separately all our lives, we also use wheelchairs, how can you make a twin disappear in a small home!!!!?

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