written by:
July 26, 2014
Originally published in Small Space Big Design
In our September 2014 issue, we feature compact homes from British Columbia to Los Angeles that make the most of their compact square footage. Here, some of the featured homeowners share their tried-and-tested tips for maximizing a small space.
airstream trailer berkeley small space

"Light colors make [your space] feel more spacious and airy," says Macy Miller. Miller's compact home in Boise, Idaho, built for only $11,000, is featured in our September issue.

1 / 18

Miller's second tip: "Find storage in unusual spaces—between wall studs of a non-insulated interior wall for example, a rod under a shelf for hanging cups/towels, or storage in stairs which would otherwise be wasted space."

2 / 18
Modern bayfront house in Chile

"Windows with a view to the outside open up the space and make it feel much larger," Miller says.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Simple Geometric Bayfront Home in Chile
3 / 18
<p>In the new kitchen, taking maximum advantage of the southern exposure was key. "I'm always conscious when doing townhouses about the fact that they limit daylight to only two directions," Willmer says. She raised the roof to a create a taller

"Skip cupboard storage at eye level, it makes a space feel tighter and more closed in," suggests Miller. "Open shelving reverses that and become usable storage."

Originally appeared in Park Street Renovation
4 / 18
Perforated screen in Manhattan apartment

"Think of ways in which your space can suit multiple purposes," Miller adds. "My table is my desk, my sewing space, my drawing table, etc. You'll only be able to do one thing at a time, so make one space fit you and all of your needs."

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Space-Efficient Renovation in New York
5 / 18
Almost every element of the interior—from the kitchen cabinetry to the art on the walls—was created by Dollahite himself.

"Keep it clean—and more importantly, keep it neat," advises Karen Kiest, whose compact prefab cabin is featured in our September issue. "It’s easier to clean that it is to tidy. Things tend to pile up, and once that happens, the space turns into a series of clutters."

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Salvage Love
6 / 18
Engawa house interior kitchen and dinning room

"I have been very careful to pare down the furniture requirements, and to make the few furnishings do double duty." Kiest says. "My dinner table is technically an outdoor table, and with the paired side table and chairs it’s easy to set up indoors or out."

Originally appeared in The Long Hall
7 / 18
Carpenter describes the FSC-certified cypress structure as part sculpture, part architecture, and part landscape.

"A deck doubles the size of a living space," Kiest says.

Originally appeared in Dominey Pavilion and Carport
8 / 18
New Zealand backyard playhouse plywood and plastic

"Have a shed for storing stuff," Kiest says.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Modular Backyard Playhouse in New Zealand
9 / 18

"Use light colored wood for floors," suggest Ned and Brenda Drew, whose New York City apartment is featured in our September issue.  "We chose to use Bamboo primarily because it’s environmentally friendly, but a major side benefit was that it opened up the space and made the apartment feel much larger than it really was."

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Small Space Living by LifeEdited
10 / 18
A reflective light shelf sits atop the lower window units. “When light hits the shelf, it reflects back on the ceiling,” Woo explains. “This is a very deep space, so we tried to bring the light as far back as possible.” The Neo sectional chaise by Niels B

"White walls make a big difference," the Drews say. "By leaving the walls white and neutral we were able to create visual interest by hanging quirky or interesting artwork and personal mementos."

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Big City, Little Loft
11 / 18
Modern living room of with maple bookshelves

"'A place for everything, and everything in its place.' It sounds simple enough but this is probably the most important rule we have," the Drews say. "Making sure that things don’t pile up, putting them away as they come helps us avoid clutter and reduces the impression of a cramped space."

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Space-Saving Wood-Paneled Apartment in Manhattan
12 / 18
Anderson Remodel by <a href="http://www.shedbuilt.com">Shed Architects</a>. Custom cabinetry by <a href="http://www.kerfdesign.com">Kerf Design</a>. Photos courtesy of the architects.

"Storage in ceiling—we were lucky in that we live on the top floor so our ceilings are taller than most," the Drews say. "We took advantage of this by converting space above the bathroom into storage. Also, our architects designed storage spaces above our closet and in the hallway."

Originally appeared in Built-In Beauty
13 / 18
Modern open-plan kitchen and dining room with decorative cabinets

Ruth True and her husband Bill own a converted garage in Washington that's featured in our September issue. Ruth says that "flexibility" is key in small spaces. "We love to have vintage folding chairs around."

Photo by 
Courtesy of 
©Andreas Meichsner
Originally appeared in Warsaw Loft with Multifunctional Furniture
14 / 18
Modern dining room area with minimalist colors

She also recommends creating "room for some movement." Avoid "trying to do more than the space can do," she says.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in All Together Now
15 / 18
Foldable Murphy bed in the bedroom

"Hidden beds in the floor are one of my favorite features of the garage," Ruth says.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Stow Aways
16 / 18
The combination dining table/countertop, says Woo, “is both a demarcation and connection between the kitchen and main living space.” Originally, the architect considered a concrete surface, but balked at the delivery time and expense. “I kind of like it a

"Great lighting" is key according to Ruth. "LED strips are our new best friend!"

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Big City, Little Loft
17 / 18
modern living room connecticut

Another way to maximize a small space: "Large openings to the outdoors," Ruth says. "You can always expand into the outdoors!"

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Striking Angular Cottage in Connecticut
18 / 18
airstream trailer berkeley small space

"Light colors make [your space] feel more spacious and airy," says Macy Miller. Miller's compact home in Boise, Idaho, built for only $11,000, is featured in our September issue.

You May Also Like

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...