Living in a small home can be a challenge when it comes to space-saving. It can be especially so if you’re thinking about expanding your family, getting a pet (or two), or basically just wanting more space to move around. We understand that sometimes looking for and moving into a bigger house or apartment is not so simple, especially with the current real estate prices — yikes! — making renovation a much more feasible route.
The graph displays the gap between median home prices and median household incomes in 12 cities in North America in 2016. Vancouver is shown to have the highest gap, with average housing prices 11 times higher than average household incomes. This is followed by Los Angeles with housing prices 8.8 times higher than incomes. San Jose and Toronto are tied with a gap of 8.3, closely followed by San Francisco at 8.2. These are followed by New York (5.9), Seattle (5), Montreal (4.9), Calgary (4.5), Kitchener (4.5), Cleveland (2.8), and Syracuse (2.4).
One good thing that came out of the property price hikes is the tiny house movement. No, this isn’t a suggestion for you to join the movement and build your own tiny house, but this is, however, an encouragement to learn from their ability to make the most out of their space. Because of the increasing preference of smaller homes, builders and homeowners alike have developed innovative strategies for managing the limited space.
Space is a valuable asset in a small home. Decluttering is crucial if you want to maximize the use of your space and keep it from looking like a house out of Hoarders. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that you have to make a dramatic switch to a minimalist lifestyle. Decluttering is just a means for you to let go of less important items to make room for those that are.
In this video, one of TODAY’s hosts, Sheinelle Jones, welcomes into her home the modern guru of decluttering, Marie Kondo. Kondo is the renowned organizing consultant and the architect of the KonMari Method of decluttering who authored the popular books “Spark Joy” and “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which have sold over 6 million copies worldwide. The video follows this global phenomenon as she reveals to Jones a few simple tricks to make everyday living a little easier. These tricks can help save time, maximize space, and restore order into the home. They first go through Jones’ purse, with Kondo advising to only keep the things she needs every day. Kondo then goes on to show Jones the proper way of folding clothes so they are easy to find in a drawer. Lastly, Kondo helps Jones deal with the clutter in one of her closets, removing what was no longer needed and organizing what was.
Not only does cutting the clutter help you get through the day and find items much more easily, it can also make your home look so much bigger.
Ask yourself what you value and how you want to use your home and why you’re renovating in the first place. Do you need more space for your home office or art studio? Are you looking forward to welcoming a new member to your family and need to add another bedroom?
For example, if you just started working from home and do not have space for an office or study desk, you can opt for a mounted wall desk. You can also mount shelves above the desk as storage for books, documents, or other items you may need for work or study.
Another example is if you like having visitors over and want to have space reserved for overnight guests. You can designate a room with bunk beds or a pull-out and maybe a couch that can double as a bed.
Invest in items that can be used for a variety of purposes. The market now offers a lot of these types of furniture, ranging from the simple to the complex. The former refers to everyday items that can be used to pull double — or triple — duty. One example is an ottoman with a removable lid. This can serve as a (1) seat, (2) makeshift coffee table, and (3) storage for books and/or photo albums.
The more complex items refer to the intricately designed multipurpose furniture that can transform into a completely different piece when unravelled. Examples of these are the chair/sofa bed, a retractable table you can hang on your wall as decor, and the classic Murphy bed you can fold into the wall so you can use the foldable table and shelves on the underside.
Just because you have limited space does not mean that you have to sacrifice storage. Here are a few ideas:
Although it may seem counterintuitive, one big piece of furniture is better than several small pieces. Having small pieces of furniture littered around the home can make it look cluttered, and the space they take can add up, making it seem more cramped. Larger pieces of furniture, on the other hand, can be more compact and can make a room look more organized and more spacious to boot.
Walls can take up a lot of space and can make a room look busy and cramped — especially in small houses or apartments. Tearing down those walls has several advantages, including making your house less compartmentalized and less isolating. This, of course, exclude bedrooms and areas that are dedicated to privacy.
An open floor plan is best applied to the main areas of the house, i.e. the living room, dining room, and kitchen. By taking out the walls in the equation, there is more space to walk around, and people in different areas can easily communicate with each other. You can, for example, talk to visiting friends lounging in the living room while you cook in the kitchen.
Take advantage of one of the oldest tricks in the book — mirrors. They can do more than just beautify a place.
By simply installing a large mirror in one part of the room, you can really open up the place and make it seem larger than it really is via optical illusion. Mirrors can also brighten up a room by reflecting any source of light. You can place a mirror opposite to your windows to reflect the natural light and make the room look bigger and brighter.
Another great way to trick the eye into thinking that your home has more space than it really has is to choose your colours correctly. Just as with mirrors, more light can make a space look bigger. Dark colours absorb light and have the opposite effect. Light colours reflect light and can brighten up the space, giving it an open and airy feel.
You can add dimension by adding a bit of contrast. Dark blue, navy blue, and teal furnishings can complement crisp white, off-white, or light gray walls. You can also go for black accents, but this works best if you opt for a monochromatic colour scheme. Of course, depending on your preferences, you can also go wild with other colour combinations that work just as well.
It may be more difficult for those who are renting their space to pull off a massive renovation. Try speaking to your landlord and ask about your options. If you can’t renovate, you can start with decluttering and moving things around.
Don’t let the limited space cramp your style. There are plenty of creative ways you can make use of what you have. Just following these simple tips can help you make your space that much more inviting and livable.