When we bought our house, we knew space would occasionally be a challenge. The house we bought is about 1,400 square feet which might be considered small for a growing family with two adults that work from home and who host family from out-of-state many times every year.
Pretty much everyone we know told us we should get a bigger house, suggesting we should get a house with a separate office and a playroom. But, the truth is I never wanted a big house. I like the coziness of a smaller home and it’s much easier to clean and take care of. I also like that it forces us to constantly evaluate what we have to avoid having too much. While we do have down-the-road plans to add a small addition in 5-10 years, right now we fit perfectly in this house and both feel like we have room to grow.
That all being said, you do have to make some compromises in a smaller house. You have to be smart about what you buy and how you fill it. So, today I’m going to share some basic tips for living in a “smaller” space without feeling like you’re bursting at the seams.
Have Versatile Furniture
It can be easy to want to buy furniture 100% on style, but I always look for pieces I call “smart.” This is furniture that is flexible and versatile. This might mean a sofa with a sleeper in it, a kitchen island with a flap that extends, or a coffee table with extra storage.
An example of this is in our family room, we have an extendable table. About 97% of the year, only Michael, Miles, and I eat at our table. So, we don’t exactly need an 8 person table taking up a bunch of valuable space that could be used for better things like dance parties and driving Miles’ toy truck around. That’s why I opted for a table with a leaf extension. For those 3% of nights we do have guests over or host potlucks or dinners, we can just pull our table open and easily seat 8 people comfortably. (We use a bench in our sunroom for extra seating or grab our outdoor patio chairs.)
Add Extra Beds Everywhere
If you have a smaller house, you most likely don’t have an entire room that you can dedicate to being a guest room. So, you need to find places to add extra sleeping spots in every corner. We opted for a couch that has a sleeper sofa in it. We also put a twin bed in Michael’s office (that will eventually be Miles’ bed) that has a trundle underneath. This allows us to easily sleep 2 adults without taking up space for a Queen bed.
We put Tuft & Needle* mattresses on our guest bed. In our previous house, we had a Tuft & Needle mattress in our office/guest room and everyone who slept over commented on how comfortable it was. So, we knew we wanted to get one again. We got their new Hybrid mattress for the main mattress. It’s their standard mattress wrapped it in an ultra-luxurious plush pillow top as well as heat and moisture-wicking, making it comfortable and breathable. However, I needed a smaller mattress (]under 8 inches) to put on a trundle. This typically limits you to uncomfortable spring mattresses without pillow tops. Luckily, Tuft & Needle has their Nod mattresses, exclusively through Amazon, which offers the same comfort of their mattresses but at only 8 inches in height. They are also a lower price point.
Smart Storage: Use all Available Space
Small houses are great because you can clean them so much quicker than larger houses. But, they are also tricky because they look messy A LOT faster. Just 1-2 out-of-place items can start to make it look cluttered quick. The key comes down to everything having a place. If every item in your house has a place it belongs, keeping your small house picked up and organized in a snap.
But, in a small house, this usually requires thinking out-of-the-box on where you add storage so you make the most use of all your space. Here’s are two examples:
- Our downstairs bathroom was awkwardly large for a space that was only used for a toilet and sink. I knew I could use the space more effectively. I brought in some by adding a shelf along the top wall for added storage. It makes use of the unused space along the ceiling and gives us a place to store necessary items we don’t need every day.
- Our house doesn’t have a coat closet (or any downstairs closet at all for that matter.) So, I added a wall coat rack just inside the stairs leading down the basement. It’s just as quick to access as a coat closet, get all our winter gear out of sight and makes use of an unused wall.
Pretty much every space in our house can be used a few ways. Our family room doubles as a play area, Michael’s office is a guest bedroom, our breakfast nook is also my filming studio. You have to embrace spaces being used in multiple ways and find furniture and storage that allows it.
You Don’t Need to Be a Minimalist
I think most people think in order to thrive in a small house you have to essentially be a minimalist. People think you would want white walls, minimal decor, and light furniture so the house doesn’t feel smaller than it is. But, this is so not the case. The first thing I did when we moved into our house was to paint a wall dark navy. The next thing I did was paint our guest bathroom dark green. I hung art, bought fun patterned rugs, and embraced color.
While having too much clutter certainly can make any space feel smaller, part of the charm of a smaller house is that cozy feeling. You don’t need to avoid patterns, decor, and color.
*Tuft & Needle gifted me two mattresses in exchange for this post. However, as always, comments and thoughts are 100% my own. I truly like, use, and recommend Tuft & Needle.