8 Design Tips for Small Homes

Building On Slopes

The design of small houses plays a huge part in how well they work – designed with care they can be efficient and functional homes, but if not thought through they can be cramped, impractical and unpleasant to live in. Read on for some tips on how to get the most out of your small home.

Design useful spaces

To make efficient use of space it is important to design spaces around exactly the way you and your family want to live in your home. Think about what suits you, not what a future owner might want, and don’t waste a single square metre!

Work out how big your furniture is going to be, and ensure you create suitable spaces for everything.

Make sure you have plenty of corners and walls to put things against – often large open spaces are more wasteful as furniture ends up positioned centrally with lots of circulation space around it.

Full-height windows can restrict furniture placement – by lifting them 600-800mm above the floor you’ll be able to put a dining table or seating against the wall while still enjoying the same outlook.


Think about lighting

Lighting plays a huge part in how we perceive spaces, so it is important to think about how you can work with both natural and artificial lighting to enhance a compact home.

Rooms that are well-lit will feel larger and more inviting compared to dimly-lit areas.

Don’t forget about the ceiling – uplighting can do wonders to make a room feel more spacious, whereas downlights by themselves can create dark walls and ceilings.

Use light paint colours to improve the amount of reflected light.

Don’t forget about natural light – ideally position windows on two sides of each room to get balanced light levels and reduce glare.

Skylights and roof windows can bring huge amounts of natural light into a room, and can increase the sense of space by opening up the ceiling.


Built-in furniture

By having furniture custom-made you can make optimal use of the available space, rather than using off-the-shelf pieces that aren’t a perfect fit.

Window seats are a great space-saving idea – they don’t take up as much room as a conventional sofa and because they’re built against the wall there’s no wasted space behind them. You can also utilise the space underneath them for extra storage.

Look for other spaces to create useful and interesting storage, such as cubby holes under stairs.


Make use of underutilised spaces

By using the hidden spaces in and around your home you can free up more of your floor area to use as you wish.

Ducted heat pumps are a great way of heating your home, and by hiding the indoor unit and ducting in the ceiling or floor space you’ll free up space in each room.

Create more storage by using attic trusses which allow you to form spacious storage areas in the roof, and attic stairs that provide convenient and safe access.

Simplify your home entertainment area by recessing the TV in the wall, using in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, and concealing hi-fi equipment in a cupboard or study nook.


Study nook

Creating a study nook in a corner of the living or family room will use a fraction of the space of a dedicated study or home office.

Screen it off behind sliding doors or a wing wall to keep mess out of sight.

It’s an ideal central location for all sorts of things: charging phones, printers, laptops and even as a hub for your internet and entertainment networks.


Efficient kitchen and dining areas

Use a dining table instead of an island bench in an open plan kitchen to save on the need for a separate dining space.

Look into space-saving fittings: pull-out pantries, ‘Lazy-Susan’ corner units and overhead storage that can help you fit the most into the available space.

Take cupboards right to the ceiling – high level cupboards are great for storing items you only require occasionally, and as an added bonus you won’t need to dust on top of them!


Make the most of outdoor spaces

If you’re short of space inside a well-designed outdoor area can provide much-needed overflow space.

Level access to balconies and decks will make them much more functional as extensions of the indoor space.

Consider how they can be used year-round. By incorporating retractable roofing, screen walls and even outdoor heating you’ll be able to spend time outdoors when it would otherwise be too hot or cold.


Multi-purpose rooms

Pinpoint rooms that are only required occasionally and think about ways you can incorporate them into other spaces.

A second living area or study could be used as a guest room by providing a sofabed or fold down bed.

If you can do without a dedicated laundry room you can make great space savings by locating your laundry in the garage or a hallway cupboard, or even just keeping the appliances under the kitchen bench.