Downsizing Like a Pro: 5 Tips to Make the Most of Small Homes

While some people still dream of living in luxurious, sprawling mansions, more and more homeowners are opting to downsize their square footage. A smaller home has a lot of advantages, including reduced utility costs and less time spent cleaning and maintaining the property.

The obvious disadvantage of a smaller home is there’s less space for your stuff. If you’re already filling up a larger space, you may need to make some tough decisions to pare your life down to a lower square footage.

The good news is, there are some easy adjustments you can make as part of your moving preparation. Read on to learn how you can make more efficient use of your space. With the right furnishings and a smart design eye, you can make any size of home feel spacious and comfortable.

Tip 1: Modernize your electronics.

As technology improves, things tend to get smaller. You can use this to your advantage to make the most of a small space. Instead of moving your bulky 60” flatscreen TV, for example, upgrade to a laser projector, which can project a big image without taking up much space.

Tip 2: Take advantage of vertical space.

Moving things up off the floor frees up space to move, maximizing the square footage and keeping small spaces from feeling cluttered. A lofted bed can make a world of difference in a small bedroom. And they’re not just for kids, either. Stores like Ikea sell lofted beds that will fit an adult (without making you feel like you live in a dorm room). Other common ways to take advantage of a home’s vertical space include floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, floating shelves, and stacked appliances like washer/dryer combos.

Tip 3: Integrate your storage.

Some of the bulkiest pieces of furniture most people own are storage items like dressers, shelves, and armoires. These large furnishings are particularly troublesome in tight spaces. Rather than struggling to find a place for that heavy oak wardrobe, look for a home with lots of closet space and recessed shelving. Keep an eye out for places you can easily add built-in storage, too, like the empty space under staircases.

Tip 4: Use multi-function furnishings.

A piece of furniture that can serve double-duty saves you lots of space. A daybed or pull-out sofa can serve double-duty as a guest bed (or even a main bed, as is often the case in tiny homes). Buying a bed with storage underneath or in the headboard can eliminate the need for other furnishings, like dressers or end tables. You can also find coffee tables and end tables that have storage built-in.

Tip 5: Integrate peripheral structures and outdoor space.

Unless your home is in a very urban area, you probably have at least some space on the outside of your home. While it’s more difficult to make outdoor spaces livable year-round in places with cold winters, the added space is often worth the investment in a small home. Sliding glass doors and a portable heater can turn a front porch into an all-year sunroom. Other structures on the property, like detached garages or garden sheds, can become offices, playrooms, mancaves, or home gyms with a few modifications.

What’s the bottom line?

Even taking advantage of space-saving techniques, you may need to get rid of some stuff when you move to a home with less square footage. With a few smart design touches, however, you can avoid the clutter and claustrophobia that can plague small living spaces.

If you have a lot of large furniture, figure out which pieces your heart is set on keeping, and which you’re less attached to. The more bulky items you can replace, the easier your transition into a smaller home will be.


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