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floor plan illustration

Smaller spaces have their challenges. Here are some ways to make them more efficient, including floor plan creators, wall space, and plain old vigilance.

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Recent news stories show that some early proponents of the “tiny house” lifestyle seem to be adopting larger spaces after deciding it was just too tough to live tiny. I’ve been a big fan of the tiny movement for a while now, but I thought it wasn’t realistic for most people. It’s a lifestyle that demands austerity and restraint, and that can be okay for a while, but it’s a lot to ask of folks. It doesn’t surprise me to see people walking away from 250-square-foot homes.

Having a littler footprint and living eco-consciously with small-space floor plans doesn’t need to be done to such an extreme. It’s really okay to have room to breathe.

If you want a simpler life, absolutely downsize some. There’s a lot of brilliance in that plan. But maybe a good small space for a couple is 600 or 700 square feet. Maybe a family needs 1,000 square feet.

More vigilance needed in a smaller space

Small spaces mean constant vigilance, because leaving anything untidy means the whole place is gone to the dogs in a matter of minutes. If you don’t have the discipline, and you spend a lot of time at home, it could be a non-starter for you from the get-go, no matter how appealing the finances and other logistics of tiny home life may be to you.

Instead of trying to have a super-small home, it’s important to focus on smart floor plans. Use your space wisely. Think of your home as a whole that requires smart interplay between floor planning and furnishings. For instance, just because a big overstuffed L-shaped sectional sofa is too large for your smaller home doesn’t mean a sectional is a bad choice. Instead, it’s about trimming the fat and getting a lean sectional that’s a smaller profile and tucks right into a corner.

Floor plan creator

A floor plan creator can really help you get unstuck when imagining the most efficient use of your space. Here at BuildDirect we’re working on a total home floor plan creator, but right now (as of this writing) it can at least help you figure out your bathroom for a smart lay-out in our bathroom design center.

If the size of the home counts, then what’s inside counts too. Everything from kitchen appliances to chairs to sofas, it all needs to be as space-economizing as it can be. You may not think an extra six inches on the length or width of your sofa or bed matters, or that the two-inch difference between the side tables you’re considering is a big deal, but when you compound every single thing you own and all those extra inches, soon you’re talking some serious square-footage. Having access to a floor plan creator of any kind will help you figure out the details (try ours!).

bathroom layouts

Saving floorspace

Beyond space-saving furniture and home floor plans, though, there are your walls. If you want a more compact, simpler life, it’s critical to use your wall space creatively. Instead of table lamps or floor laps, you’ll want to use installed lighting. You can use installed shelving in place of side tables.

To succeed at living with a smaller footprint, you’ll need to declutter every few weeks. Some even recommend doing it weekly, because it’s incredible how quickly our consumerist lives get out of control. From magazines and books you’ve read to clothing isn’t being worn, it’s the best way to stay on top of things.

Much to love in a smaller home

If you’re going for “smaller space living” as opposed to “small space” or even “tiny,” then all these things are still relevant to that lifestyle choice; it’s just that you literally get a little more room to breathe or mess things up.

What’s also still relevant is the sanity savings you’ll enjoy with everything from lower utility costs to faster clean-up and probably even a cheaper mortgage or rent. There is much to love with a slightly smaller home and it won’t be as severe a shift in lifestyle as a tiny one requires.

Your small space

What are some ways you’ve made the most of a small space? How has that helped to inform you on how to be more efficient with larger spaces, too? Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.